Having greatly enjoyed The Loser Letters by Mary Eberstadt I looked forward to her new book Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution. Talk about a timely subject considering the HHS mandate.
This book does not just cover the effects of contraception on the culture, but also related problems such as pornography and what she calls Toxic U. She draws out many very interesting paradoxes concerning the so-called sexual revolution. The sexual revolution is a real revolution in that it revolved around a individualistic and selfish view of self and maximizing pleasure. While some of those paradoxes are ones that have been noted before she also brings out some new insights and some rather surprising one. The chapter on how sex and food were once regarded and their switch places attitude-wise is very interesting especially how the moral weight of what food you eat has increased while the moral weight of casual sex has decreased.
When Humanae Vitae was released it was roundly mocked and ignored. The same year The Population Bomb was released and it sold millions of copies. One made many predictions which all turned out to be false and the other projected four things that all came to pass. It was Pope Paul VI who was able to project into the future what would happen with the use of widespread contraception and like most prophets he was ignored. This book explains exactly how he got it right demonstrates the consequences that flowed. This is backed up by plenty of research and the book contains a plethora of references at the end.
One of the parallels she uses is the comparison between those who were actively denying the evil effects of Communism and those that deny the evil effects of the sexual revolution. She references an article by ardent anti-Communist Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, “The Will to Disbelieve” on the subject. There certainly is a will to disbelieve to ignore or simply laugh at the toxic effects the sexual revolution has had. This is an “Emperor’s New Clothes” of the first order where everybody seems to pretend that what they can see with their own eyes is mistaken. The talk of effects on women and children is often brought up by liberals, but strangely never in regard to the massive damage that has occurred especially in the last fifty years. When the pill was being pushed it was promised as a panacea to cure social ills and to create stronger marriages and families. Even the pills strongest defenders don’t really push that line anymore. But just as how the facts of life in Communist countries was largely ignored, the facts of the sexual revolution are also inconvenient.
The topic of pornography is another one of those areas that gets so soft-pedaled. Talk about strange-bedfellows with radical feminism. The ideas concerning pornography have largely fallen into a libertarian attitude and when referenced it is usually with a wink-wink attitude. The destructive nature of pornography on families and specifically with men in families has a lot of growing evidence and it is just another area that the culture has turned it’s back on. I know first hand (not an intentional masturbation pun) the danger of pornography and it was sheer grace that turned me totally away from it.
Mary Eberstadt takes all of these subjects and just writes brilliantly on them. Her uses of explaining these paradoxes by backed-up examples illustrates the points in an entertaining manner.