When I was growing up in the late Sixties and early Seventies the number one sex symbol going away was the actress Raquel Welch. What little I had heard of her opinions seemed to be those of a conventional Hollywood liberal. Therefore I was shocked by this column she wrote for CNN on the anniversary of the invention of the birth control pill:
Margaret Sanger opened the first American family-planning clinic in 1916, and nothing would be the same again. Since then the growing proliferation of birth control methods has had an awesome effect on both sexes and led to a sea change in moral values.
And as I’ve grown older over the past five decades — from 1960 to 2010 — and lived through this revolutionary period in female sexuality, I’ve seen how it has altered American society — for better or worse.
On the upside, by the early 60’s The Pill had made it easier for a woman to choose to delay having children until after she established herself in a career. Nonetheless, for young women of childbearing age (I was one of them) there was a need for some careful soul searching — and consideration about the long-range effects of oral contraceptives — before addressing this very personal decision. It was a decision I too would have to face when I discovered I was pregnant at age 19.
Even though I was married to the baby’s father, Jim Welch, I wasn’t prepared for this development. It meant I would have to put my career ambitions on hold. But “the choice” was not mine alone to make. I had always wanted to have Jim’s babies, but wasn’t at all sure how he would react. At the time, we were 19-year-old newlyweds, struggling to make ends meet. But he was unflinching in his desire to keep our baby and his positive, upbeat attitude about the whole prospect turned everything around. I have always loved Jim for how he responded in that moment.
During my pregnancy, I came to realize that this process was not about me. I was just a spectator to the metamorphosis that was happening inside my womb so that another life could be born. It came down to an act of self-sacrifice, especially for me, as a woman. But both of us were fully involved, not just for that moment, but for the rest of our lives. And it’s scary. You may think you can skirt around the issue and dodge the decision, but I’ve never known anyone who could. Jim and I had two beautiful children who’ve been an ongoing blessing to both of us.
Later, I would strike out on my own, with my little ones, as a single mother to pursue a career in the movies. It was far from ideal, but my children didn’t impede my progress. They grounded me in reality and forced me into an early maturity. I should add that having two babies didn’t destroy my figure.
But if I’d had a different attitude about sex, conception and responsibility, things would have been very different.
One significant, and enduring, effect of The Pill on female sexual attitudes during the 60’s, was: “Now we can have sex anytime we want, without the consequences. Hallelujah, let’s party!”
It remains this way. These days, nobody seems able to “keep it in their pants” or honor a commitment! Raising the question: Is marriage still a viable option? I’m ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.
In stark contrast, a lack of sexual inhibitions, or as some call it, “sexual freedom,” has taken the caution and discernment out of choosing a sexual partner, which used to be the equivalent of choosing a life partner. Without a commitment, the trust and loyalty between couples of childbearing age is missing, and obviously leads to incidents of infidelity. No one seems immune.
Go here to read the rest. Our society has gotten into quite a bit of trouble by celebrating the grand enjoyment of sex, while attempting to divorce it from the whole purpose of sex: kids. The phrase “safe sex” I have always found vastly amusing. “Safe sex”? One embarking upon sex with someone is never safe! The possibility of children, the emotional turmoil it tends to bring, the legal consequences, a potential lifetime with that person, none of these are “safe”, nor are they meant to be! As CS Lewis put it in The Screwtape Letters:
“His real motive for fixing on sex as the method of reproduction among humans is only too apparent from the use He has made of it. Sex might have been, from our point of view, quite innocent. It might have been merely one more mode in which a stronger self preyed upon a weaker—as it is, indeed, among the spiders where the bride concludes her nuptials by eating her groom. But in the humans the Enemy has gratuitously associated affection between the parties with sexual desire. He has also made the offspring dependent on the parents and given the parents an impulse to support it—thus producing the Family, which is like the organism, only worse; for the members are more distinct, yet also united in a more conscious and responsible way. The whole thing, in fact, turns out to be simply one more device for dragging in Love.
Now comes the joke. The Enemy described a married couple as “one flesh”. He did not say “a happily married couple” or “a couple who married because they were in love”, but you can make the humans ignore that. You can also make them forget that the man they call Paul did not confine it to married couples. Mere copulation, for him, makes “one flesh”. You can thus get the humans to accept as rhetorical eulogies of “being in love” what were in fact plain descriptions of the real significance of sexual intercourse. The truth is that wherever a man lies with a woman, there, whether they like it or not, a transcendental relation is set up between them which must be eternally enjoyed or eternally endured. From the true statement that this transcendental relation was intended to produce, and, if obediently entered into, too often will produce, affection and the family, humans can be made to infer the false belief that the blend of affection, fear, and desire which they call “being in love” is the only thing that makes marriage either happy or holy. The error is easy to produce because “being in love” does very often, in Western Europe, precede marriages which are made in obedience to the Enemy’s designs, that is, with the intention of fidelity, fertility and good will; just as religious emotion very often, but not always, attends conversion. In other words, the humans are to be encouraged to regard as the basis for marriage a highly-coloured and distorted version of something the Enemy really promises as its result. Two advantages follow. In the first place, humans who have not the gift of continence can be deterred from seeking marriage as a solution because they do not find themselves “in love”, and, thanks to us, the idea of marrying with any other motive seems to them low and cynical. Yes, they think that. They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion. (Don’t neglect to make your man think the marriage-service very offensive.) In the second place any sexual infatuation whatever, so long as it intends marriage, will be regarded as “love”, and “love” will be held to excuse a man from all the guilt, and to protect him from all the consequences, of marrying a heathen, a fool, or a wanton.”
Raquel Welch, to my vast surprise, and CS Lewis appear to be in agreement.