17 Sep Rethinking the Sexual Revolution
The term, sexual revolution, can bring about many different positions, feelings, and arguments, but what can readily be agreed upon is that it has drastically changed society. With any dramatic change of norms it is easy for individuals to get swept away in the changing tides rather than being intentional about life choices.
Because of these changes we now view sex and its role vastly different than how our grandparents viewed it. The sexual revolution started in the 1960’s and left the world forever changed. Birth control and the increased focus on individualism were some of the major catalysts. None of these are inherently wrong, but they did have many unforeseen effects on the family. All of these things are still affecting families today, and each of us has the opportunity to be intentional about how we let them affect our decisions and our family life.
The birth control pill was first introduced in the 1960’s and was soon followed by other popular means of contraceptives. While this was beneficial for many and allowed parents to plan their children, it also drastically changed the way that sex is viewed. No longer were sex, marriage, and children viewed as linked together. It separated sexual intimacy from child bearing and families, and as such cohabitation and divorce began to rise.
When the birth control was first made widely public a reader’s digest article read” Everyone knows what The Pill is. It is a small object — yet its potential effect upon our society may be even more devastating than the nuclear bomb”(PBS, 2001). And while dramatic, this statement hits to the point that this small, seemingly helpful pill could have wider effects than what was originally thought.
The rise in individualism also changed the way that families were perceived. In Marriage-Go Round Andrew Cherlin looks at this new idea of an individualized marriage. When describing this concept he states: “It is not incompatible with lifelong marriage, but it requires a new kind of marriage in which spouses are free to grow and change and in which each feels personally fulfilled. Such marriages are harder to keep together, because what matters is not merely the things they jointly produce—well-adjusted children, nice homes—but also each person’s own happiness” (p. 90) This growing individualism also leads spouses to divorce when their own happiness is not being met, leading to more family break ups.
The effects of the sexual revolution have become widespread and well known. Cohabitation, single mothers and fathers, promiscuity, divorce, and sex at younger ages all began to rise. 48% of all first births in the US are now born outside of marriage, and 49% of young adult females (age 20-24) cohabit. (Hymowitz, 2013)
So once again while these things have changed the world we do not blindly need to follow the trends they are setting. Birth control, helpful for fathers and mothers as they plan their families, also has the negative effect of pre-marital relationships and sexual promiscuity. Individual happiness and satisfaction of life while essential, is now taking on a life of its own and leading many to throw away good things. However these new societal trends can be slowed and even reversed as individuals make conscious decisions about what they mean to them and make intentional choices in regards to their families.
Cherlin, A. J., The Marriage-Go Round. 2009.
Hymowitz, K., Carroll, J.S., Wilcox, W. B., Kaye, K., Knot Yet: the Benefits and Costs of Delayed Marriage in America. (2013).
PBS. People & Events: The Pill and the Sexual Revolution. 2001