Monday, July 23, 2012

Is the Sexual Revolution Over?

Most sophisticated thinkers don’t believe in God. They do not attend religious services, considering them unworthy of their splendid intelligence.

That does not mean that they believe in nothing or that they worship nothing.

To a man or a woman, they believe in sex. They worship at the altar of the great god Eros.

For the record Aphrodite was created when the god Cronos cut off his father, Uranos’ genitals, and flung them into the Aegean. Out of the foam rose Aphrodite. And then Aphrodite begat Eros.

In Roman mythology the characters are called Venus and Cupid.

Worshiping Eros means paying obeisance to a love god. But Eros is not just any love god. Clearly, erotic love is meant to replace the adoration offered to the god of Agape, the god of Christian love.

If Eros is love, then other forms of love are precluded. That would include the adulation of authority figures and the love involved in friendship.

People worship Eros for the same reason that they worship other gods. They believe that the ritual enactment of their love for Eros will bring them health, happiness, salvation, redemption, and, of course, pleasure.

Rarely do people think of orgies as religious experiences, but clearly, they would not participate if they did not believe that they were gaining more than a mere physiological benefit.

Still, those who worship Eros do not see themselves as practicing religious rites. They believe that theirs is a political act, one that makes them part of the sexual revolution.

When a comely coed drinks herself into a mystical ecstasy by consuming what are commonly called spirits she might take the modern form of profaned communion, by dropping to her knees and taking a man’s body and fluids into her mouth.

She might not consider it a religious experience, but if she doesn’t, why is she doing it?

Through the sexual revolution, Eros has become a cult figure. His acolytes and adepts believe that the soul’s salvation depends on the prayerful worship of Eros. They will fight you to the death if you dare suggest that there be any restrictions on the free expression of your sexuality.

Presumably, the sexual revolution was about liberating sexuality. It promoted the transcendent virtue of sexual freedom.

By now sexual freedom has come to mean the freedom to do what you please when you please with whom you please, and not have to pay for the consequences.

But then, Mary Eberstadt points out, if you dare suggest that the free expression of your sexual vitality should be limited, those who love Eros will attack you with uncommon ferocity. Some things you are not free to say.

 At the least, you will be taxed with the imputation that you are sexually defective.

“What’s the matter with you, don’t you like sex?”

It’s a confidence game. You are forced to declare publicly that you worship Eros because otherwise you will be assumed to be revealing that you have a sexual problem. 

The revolution has not quite gotten to the point where people are obliged to provide visual evidence of their sexual skills-- though that time seems to be fast approaching-- but adults feel obliged to talk about sex all the time. Unfortunately, all of the sex talk has shredded the veil of modesty and that used to surround sexuality. The result: we are becoming desensitized to sexual stimuli.

The sexual revolution has not really delivered on its promise.  Eberstadt suggests that all the articles about how women are unhappy these days demonstrate the failure of the sexual revolution.

In her words:

Or you could just peruse the last few years of tony secular magazines like the Atlantic for writing on relations between the sexes. What are these women saying? Some are giving up on marriage. Some are giving up on men. Some are creating purposely fatherless homes because they can’t or won’t have a man in their life. And all of them wonder aloud about what’s killing romance and sex.

Why are all these educated, enlightened, relatively well-off women so unhappy, in their very own words? Well, one explanation could be that contrary to what they’ve been told to believe all their lives, the revolution and its cheerleading squad, modern feminism, haven’t delivered the human goods.

If, as Eberstadt and many others have suggested, the sexual revolution flooded the market with easily available sex, the result has been that sex has been cheapened. It costs less, it entails less responsibility. Now sex is merely a way to pursue pleasure, a form of mental and physical hygiene.

To use an economic metaphor, in the sexual revolution the market in sex was deregulated.

The forces that want to impose every manner of regulation on the free market—because human beings are suffering from so much “cupidity” that they are not to be trusted—strongly favor deregulating the market in sex—because if sex is freed from regulation it will naturally express itself in wholesome and healthy ways.

Of course, the proponents of sexual deregulation insist on the phrase “consenting adults.” Between condom-sheathed consenting adults, anything goes.

More and more articles are showing that women are displeased with their current sexual prospects. Some writers have even discovered that single motherhood is not such a good thing. I have to keep readers of this blog informed about these developments.

To Eberstadt they are a sign that the sexual revolution is coming to an end.

She explains:

The revolution is like a big party that a lot of people really looked forward to, but that’s now gotten way out of control. Nobody wants to be the first to leave, and nobody wants to tattle on anyone else — but everybody knows things have run seriously amok. At this point in the evening, we’re like a bunch of drunks reassuring ourselves that everything’s going to be fine tomorrow, even as most people know deep down that it isn’t.


n.n said...

The "sexual revolution" can be generalized to instant gratification without consequence. It encompasses not just physical, but also material and ego gratification in varying degrees.

It is these "dreams" which justify elective abortion of a developing human life, subordination of others, and, of course, redistributive change. These dreams contribute to progressive corruption of individuals, society, and even humanity.

It didn't start with the "sexual revolution", but that was a notable milestone which marked a progressive devaluation of human life and an increasing dissociation from reality.

I suppose the self-esteem movement was designed to mitigate the consequences of progressive corruption. Instead, it exacerbated them.

Boys and girls just want to have fun.

Robert Mitchell Jr. said...

I wonder. There has always been war between Mothers and Daughters. But to end the Sexual Revolution, we must go back to a place where casual sex, divorce and Abortion gets you exiled from polite society. How will this be done with our current, oh so guilty, crop of Mothers? To the extent that they make those things abhorrent, they strip themselves of Authority.

epoche* said...

Stuart, what some people such as Kay Hymowitz fail to note about single motherhood is the plain fact that people who wait until they are married to have children should have material and status advantages compared to those who arent. I have friends, both men and women who graduated from college and are trying to start a life together and wont have as many kids as they would like because they are responsible. I know you dont get to choose your parents but why is it any more fair to push this burden on to the shoulders of disinterested third parties?

Dennis said...

I have mentioned this before, but a lot of movements like "feminism" started out with laudable goals. Just as unions, environmentalists, revolutions, et al all started out having a goal that needed to be addressed. Then the "iron rule of movement politics" takes over. The radicals take over, as in feminism, the Democrat party, unions, the Arab Spring to name a few, and alter the movement to something total foreign to those who began it.
The Sexual Revolution, as well as "feminism, is a self limiting philosophy that is destined to destroy itself. In the long run it will also help to damage the hopes and aspirations that those who originated the revolution had in mind.
Much as all revolutions become rigid, law bound, ever totalitarian, the Sexual revolution/Feminism cannot survive its own desires to control everyone else. It gradually sells itself to government and becomes nothing more than a facade. It gradually creates its own form of slavery. It never recognizes that as they ask the government to take over more of what should be their responsibilities the more they have ceded their, and our, rights. What government can give government can quickly take away as power shifts from one interest group to another.