Author-researcher to shed light on sexual revolution myths
By Nissa LaPoint
It’s one of the more impactful cultural revolutions in the history of mankind, but what did the sexual revolution leave in its wake?
Mary Eberstadt, author of “Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution,” says it’s not the unmitigated boon it’s often touted to be. The post-contraceptive pill world ushered in by the revolution is rather one of decreased happiness of women, increased male pornography addictions, a “hookup” culture, victimization of the unborn and a rise in broken homes.
Eberstadt is bringing her keen insights to Denver this month.
She will discuss her book and the myths of the sexual revolution as a guest speaker at the Archbishop’s Lecture Series 7 p.m. Feb. 11 in Bonfils Hall on the John Paul II Center campus, 1300 S. Steele St. in Denver.
The lecture series, started by former Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput—now archbishop of Philadelphia—and the Augustine Institute, is a tradition for the archdiocese. Some of the holiest and brightest thinkers come to speak in Denver at the lecture series, said J.D. Flynn, chancellor of the Denver Archdiocese. Eberstadt will be the last lecture before the spring lecture series.
“I think Mary is talking about the impact of the so-called sexual revolution and contraceptive mentality in a way that is refreshing and in a way that can be appreciated by people of faith, but also people with a more secular outlook,” Flynn said. “Mary makes incredible rational arguments to counter the confusion of the sexual libertarianism that plagues our culture.”
Archbishop’s Lecture Series
Speaker: Author-researcher Mary Eberstadt
Title: “Myths of the Sexual Revolution”
When: 7 p.m. Feb. 11
Where: Bonfils Hall, John Paul II Center, 1300 S. Steele St., Denver
Seating: Open seating
Questions: Call 303-715-3230 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
In her book, Eberstadt unpacks the revolution and the development of the birth control pill in the early 1960s.
Until the 1930s, many churches and faiths acknowledged the danger of a “sexually free” society via artificial contraception. When condemnation of it began to end, birth control spread and impacted the lives of men, women and children.
“Many people think the concern over contraception is ‘just a Catholic thing,’ but that isn't true,” Eberstadt told the Denver Catholic Register. “It isn't true historically, for instance, all the Protestant churches were also united in banning contraception up until the 1930s, when the Anglicans broke with Christian teaching on that subject and most of the rest of the Protestant churches later followed them. It isn't true intellectually, either, that this revolution has proceeded without concern on the part of social observers.”
She addresses the revolution’s impact specifically on women, men, children and young adults.
Eberstadt artfully shows how the paradoxes of the revolution are rampant, from a release of women from the “chains” of fertility to an actual drop in reported happiness, and from less burdened men to men who’ve actually been weakened and more addicted to pornography. Furthermore, the intended sexual “freedom” of women has led to a college campus culture of date rape, binge drinking and “hookups.”
Her book is not a manifesto or a call to activism, Eberstadt notes, but a hope that readers will seek to understand the fallout of the revolution that may be the most consequential of all.
In her last chapter, Eberstadt highlights the truly prophetic encyclical by Pope Paul VI titled “Humanae Vitae.”
“Outside the Catholic world, and sometimes even within its dissident ranks, ‘Humanae Vitae’ is the most reviled and mocked global document of the last half century,” Eberstadt told the Register. “There's a great irony in that fact, as I argue in the book, because if you actually read that document, you see that it predicts the fallout of the sexual revolution better than any other single text one can name.”
Many of his grim predictions about the moral and cultural consequences of the pill are true today, she writes, noting that “there are more than enough ironies, both secular and religious, to make one swear there’s a humorist in heaven.”
Eberstadt is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution, consulting editor to Policy Review and a contributing writer to First Things. Her previous books include “The Loser Letters” and “Home-Alone America.”