The Sexual Revolution at 50: It Has Aged Like Harvey Weinstein

By Carrie Gress Published on June 2, 2018

It has been 50 years. That’s how long ago the Sexual Revolution took the West by storm. This year brought another revolution: the #MeToo movement, which exposed some ugly facts. Sexual assault and harassment are far more widespread than we’d admitted. But are these two realities unconnected? Or did the first storm lead to the second?

To learn more, I went to a conference. The Catholic Women’s Forum co-hosted “The #MeToo Moment: Second Thoughts on the Sexual Revolution.” (Other sponsors: the Ethics and Public Center and the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture.) The event brought together medical, psychological and legal experts. They unpacked just how profoundly the Sexual Revolution had changed life.

Making Women Cheap

The conference was moderated by Mary Rice Hasson of EPPC and Carter Snead of Notre Dame. It began with an introduction by D.C.’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

Next came Mary Eberstadt of the Faith and Reason Institute. She pointed out how the pioneers of the Pill never foresaw its consequences. But some of their critics did. Pope Paul VI, in Humanae Vitae, warned prophetically that women would see their value cheapened. Their dignity cast aside like a worn-out consumer product. Eberstadt described the #MeToo moment as an opportunity to hear women’s truthful stories of how the Sexual Revolution harms them.

Pressured into Hook-Up Culture

Dr. Suzanne Nortier Hollman of the Institute for Psychological Sciences tackled the mental fall-out for women from casual (“hook-up”) sex. They’re much more damaged by it than men. Hollman noted that only 26 percent of females in one survey reported a positive emotional response to a hook up. Why do the other 74 percent take part? Many women report that they feel pressured into sex. That’s even if they end up consenting. It’s not just eager male partners at fault; many young women succumb to peer pressure. They feel that “hook-ups” are simply expected of them.

New Plagues of STDs

“Planned Parenthood’s number one product is abortion. Their second product is contraception. Do you really think they would provide contraception if it was hurting their bottom line?”

Dr. Marguerite Duane of Georgetown noted that the Pill has been classified as a Class One carcinogen, like tobacco and asbestos. But we continue to ignore the very real health issues stemming from it. Few researchers want to look at the breast cancer link, for instance.
Monique Chireau, an OB/GYN at Duke University Medical Center, discussed the dramatic rise in STDs. In the 1960s, there were two of general concern: syphilis and chlamydia. It seemed like a problem science had just about solved. Instead, we face a pandemic. There are now more than 25 types of common STDs. These include genital warts and strains of the human papilloma virus. That’s causing a rise in number cancers, including those located in colons, mouths and throats.

Concerning the Pill, the annual numbers are sobering: 10 million women take it. The birth control industry in America earns $4 billion a year. And we still see 2 million unintended pregnancies every year. Tragically, people who expect perfect control over their fertility often turn to abortion as a backup. She noted: “Planned Parenthood’s number one product is abortion. Their second product is contraception. Do you really think they would provide contraception if it was hurting their bottom line?”

Chireau and Duane argued that oral contraception has caused feminism to become distorted. Rather than women demanding that the workplace accommodate their biological realities, they use dangerous medicine to beat biology into place. Dr. Duane added that the Pill has also stunted medicine because it became the panacea for every gynecological ailment. “Instead of treating the root problem, a woman’s cycle is just disrupted,” she explained. “Women deserve better medicine than that.”

Women and Kids as Commodities

A second panel looked at the commodification of women’s and children’s bodies.

Women get cast aside like a worn-out consumer product.

Jennifer Lahl of The Center for Bioethics and Culture opened. She addressed surrogate motherhood, and pointed out how it enables the abuse of women, and treats children as commercial products. The happy rhetoric of “helping would-be parents” covers a darker reality. Lahl explained the host of complications women endure. Egg donors suffer strokes and sterility. Surrogate mothers deal with manifold issues, since the womb was not designed to carry someone else’s child. She also spoke of the staggering numbers of frozen embryos. Upwards of 1 million tiny humans languish in freezers in the U.S. alone. Most will never leave.

Mary Leary of Catholic University’s law school gave the worldwide numbers on human trafficking: 27 million, mostly women and children. She warned that it is spreading across the U.S. as well. Estimates are that human traffickers earn $200 million in the city of Atlanta alone, $40 million in Washington, D.C. Their victims work as slave laborers in industries from domestic service to sweatshops to pornography.

Mary Anne Layden of the University of Pennsylvania addressed the epidemic of pornography. She talked about what happens in the minds of those in its grip, and the link to abuse of women and children. Layden explained the “magical thinking” that porn encourages. Some users become convinced of such fictions. They believe that aggressive, unwanted sexual advances are mutual, even invited. And that’s how the #MeToo phenomenon got started.

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The Revolution Has Captured Our Government

Helen Alvaré, George Mason Law Professor, wrapped up the event. She explained her new book, Putting Children’s Interests First in US Family Law and Policy: With Power Comes Responsibility. Alvaré warned that since the Sexual Revolution, the family itself has been under legal attack. Courts have whittled away many rights. The first, of course, was the right to life thanks to Roe v. Wade.

But it didn’t end there. The U.S. government has thrown its support behind promoting contraception, and offering social services to broken families. Meanwhile protections for the family unit and parental rights are falling away. Increasingly, the law and the courts view each citizen as an isolated atom whirling around the nucleus of the nanny state.

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