In severing sex from procreation, humankind set into motion forces that have by now shaped and reshaped almost every aspect of life in the Western world. Families are smaller, birthrates have dropped, divorce and out-of-wedlock births have soared. Demography has now even started to work against the modern welfare state, which has become harder to sustain as fewer children have been produced to replace aging parents.
The sexual revolution has transformed economics, culture and law. But has the sexual revolution made women happier?
Granted, happiness is a personal, imponderable thing. But if the sexual revolution has really made women as happy as feminists say, a few elementary questions beg to be answered.
Why do the pages of our tonier magazines brim with mournful titles like "The Case for Settling" and "The End of Men"? Why do websites run by and for women focus so much on men who won't grow up, and ooze such despair about relations between the sexes?
Why do so many accomplished women simply give up these days and decide to have children on their own, sometimes using anonymous sperm donors, thus creating the world's first purposely fatherless children? What of the fact that 26% of American women are on some kind of mental-health medication for anxiety and depression and related problems?
Or how about what is known in sociology as "the paradox of declining female happiness"?
Using 35 years of data from the General Social Survey, two Wharton School economists, Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, made the case in 2009 that women's happiness appeared to be declining over time despite their advances in the work force and education.
The authors noted that women (and men) showed declining happiness during the years studied. Though they were careful not to draw conclusions from their data, is it not reasonable to think that at least some of that discontent comes from the feeling that the grass is greener elsewhere—a feeling made plausible by the sexual revolution?
If the sexual revolution offends you, stay away from it. If, say, you don't approve of birth control, then choose not use it. The sexual revolution, which rode into town on the backs of those pink plastic cases of birth-control pills, was, after all, not so much a matter of sleeping around as it was of having the ability to decide when you were going to have a child, and then deciding how many children you wanted to have. It meant the freedom to choose not having children at all. It was a quiet use of a revolution, but a completely appropriate one.
Reproduction is the very purpose of life on earth. No matter which aspects of the act and its consequences are debated, mandated, outlawed or rolled back, sex will keep on keeping on. Let's make a country into which any baby would be proud to be born.
Source: The Wall Street Journal, March 24, 2012
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