Two weeks ago, I started a series based on Ross Douthat’s May 2nd New York Times “Redistribution of Sex.” It considered whether the peak romantic activity should be more universally available, and how, and whether, the right for people to have it might be achieved. I, as Douthat, considered it both a real problem, unsolved by any sexual revolution so far, and worthy of assessment.
Accordingly, how does it fit in?
First, while sex may be immensely valuable and a major part of life, it is not truly a need, and cannot be equated with the likes of food, water, or air. Therefore, it does not need to be government-assured.
Second, this issue is not political – if you disagree, would you consider it conservative or liberal, and why? Some opinions are bipartisan, and this is one of them.
Third, the world would be a better place if there were more truly consensual sex.
Fourth, we have no chance of returning to the pre-1965 sexual atmosphere. It has added too much to life quality, for those having it, to be rolled back. And, for example, we can no longer give, as Douthat put it, “special respect” to those choosing not to have it, especially when the best-known group of them, Catholic priests, are now known to make that choice from being gay (and, sadly, from being attracted to boys) instead of from being noble.
Fifth, there has been in recent years great hostility from many toward the male sex drive. That is not an appropriate feminist attitude, let alone a worthwhile mainstream one, and is not only sexist but destructive.
Sixth, there are several reasons for what Douthat called the “social and political chasms opening between” males and females. We are at a historical juncture between women and girls being specially protected (the past), having full equal rights (the present in the law), and drawing expectations consistent with those of boys and men (the future), with different people advocating only one, one and parts of the others, and, even, all three. Automation has hit men’s jobs, long necessary for sexual success as well as financial survival and prosperity, far harder than women’s. We steadily get reports on how, over all careers and personal choices, women’s averaging lower pay is indication of discrimination. There is, overall, a mixture of the past, the present, and the future, causing problems with what males and females expect from each other and, ultimately, with everything else between them.
Seventh, largely because of electronics and overattentive parents, sex between people under 18 is indeed falling.
Eighth, adding up the above, contrary to Douthat, we are hardly consistently “Hefnerian.” Though guilt is only a tiny fraction of what it was over 50 years ago, too many people’s lives are way out of synch with what was once called “free love.”
Ninth, pornography, sex robots, and other erotic machines have thus far caused no fundamental change. Could developing technologies help here? And what should we do about this overall situation? See Part III next week.