Yet Americans who’ve grown up since the blitz of the 1960s Sexual Revolution have been immersed in a culture that promotes and expects commitment-free hook-ups and casual sex, even very early in a relationship.
Turns out women feel disheartened, dishonored and coerced by this supposed “freedom,” and have good reason to be, says Britain’s Louise Perry in her spirited book “The Case Against the Sexual Revolution: A New Guide to Sex in the 21st Century” (Polity Press). She assails so-called “liberal feminism” for routinely handing countless women a raw deal.
Her preachments will be routine common sense for folks who resist fierce cultural pressure and remain guided by religious teachings of the past few thousand years.
What might especially intrigue reporters is that Perry, a fellow journalist with the Daily Mail and the New Statesman and an anti-rape crusader, makes a thoroughly secularized case that nonetheless coincides at many points with a religious tradition toward which she expresses zero trace of fondness.
Perry emphatically joins religions in blunt warnings about — let’s use the fuddy-duddy word — promiscuity. Along the way, she also skewers naïve liberal tolerance toward prostitution, pornography and sado-masochism. even while she embraces modern changes like legalized abortion and same-sex marriage.
What would your moral analysis sources and culturally savvy local clergy make of all this?
One book is not a trend. And indeed, the Perry tome reaches the market simultaneously with “Bad Sex: Truth, Pleasure and an Unfinished Revolution” (Plume) by Teen Vogue sex columnist Nona Willis Aronowitz, who was granted a lengthy (and paywalled) New York Times excerpt. She repeats some of Perry’s grievances but believes “the only way we can hope to solve the problems of our current sexual landscape” is “reaching for more sexual freedom, not less.”
But then the Times offered surprise counterpoint in an October 2 article (also paywalled) by Michal Leibowitz, an editorial assistant in its Opinion department, who offered a traditional Jewish view. Like Perry, who advises readers to shun all those anonymous dating apps, Leibowitz thinks it’s safer and more productive of close relationships to rely on guy recommendations from friends, family, even the hired matchmakers that remain important for immigrant communities.
She reports a 2010 study in an American Psychological Association journal showing that “couples who waited until marriage reported not just less consideration of divorce but also higher relationship satisfaction, better communication and superior sex” compared with couples that had sex within a month of their first date.
No absolutist on this, Perry urges women to hold off sex with any new boyfriend “for at least a few months” as “a good way of discovering whether he’s serious about you or just looking for a hook-up.” Also this: “Only have sex with a man if you think he would make a good father to your children” — not that you necessarily would intend this but as a good rule of thumb on whether “he’s worthy of your trust.”
Now: There’d be grist and potential gold in comparing Perry with fellow sex guru Sheila Wray Gregoire or getting her response to the book.
Gregoire criticizes as anti-biblical and damaging the restrictive sexual “purity culture” taught by some North American evangelicals. She does so in her 2021 book “The Great Sex Rescue: The Lies You’ve Been Taught and How to Recover What God Intended” (Baker Books), her To Love, Honor and Vacuum blog, and Bare Marriage podcasts.
Contacts: For Polity, Emma Nash, USpublicity@politybooks.com. For Perry, firstname.lastname@example.org and her website. Gregoire can be e-mailed via her website.