It seems to astonish some conservatives that rape and out-of-wedlock births were around before the sexual revolution.
Some right-wingers seem convinced that's not so. In their eyes, the past was a golden age where women stayed virgin until marriage and were much happier that way. If we could only roll back the clock'outlaw birth control again and force couples to marry when the woman got pregnant'it would be so wonderful, especially for the girls!
James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal
, for example, wrote
earlier this year that women having control of their own fertility has been a disaster for them because it 'broke down the institution of the shotgun wedding.' Men now figure if a woman gets pregnant, it's her own stupid fault for not using the Pill, so they feel no obligation to marry her. And because birth control makes it safer for women to have sex before marriage, they end up alone and unmarried, as men won't buy the cow if they get the milk free.
Similarly, Ashley McGuire wrote on the Acculturated blog last year
that women were better off in many ways back in the pre-feminist, pre-sexual revolution days of Downton Abbey: 'Did respect for a woman's reputation keep men in check and protect ourselves from winding up like Ethel, pregnant and scared?' (As Ethel did wind up pregnant and unmarried, the question answers itself).
Or consider American Conservative
columnist and rape apologist
Rod Dreher. Writing about a recent rape case at Swarthmore College, Dreher has no problem blaming
it on the fact the students don't stay virgins, because that inevitably results in rape''What do you expect from a culture that values casual hook-up sex ' until suddenly it doesn't?' Rape is the natural outcome of women wanting 'consequences-free sex without interference.'
One obvious flaw in this argument is that sex outside of marriage has been around as long as marriage itself. Couples hooked up in past centuries even when they had no way to prevent pregnancy. Even when a woman's reputation would be utterly destroyed if it was known she was unchaste. Not even criminal penalties made premarital sex stop completely. When a couple in any era really, really wants to have sex, they don't need 'a culture that values casual hook-up sex,' they just need a flat surface.
And shockingly, guys abandoning women didn't start with the availability of birth control either. Some guys married a woman rather than see her dishonored, some guys did it if forced to (hence the 'shotgun' in 'shotgun wedding') and some guys just didn't. Contrary to Taranto, eliminating women's access to birth control isn't going to increase chastity or marriage, it's just going to make life more miserable for a lot of women who have sex.
As for Dreher's delusion women wouldn't get raped if the culture didn't tolerate premarital sex ' well that's bullshit too. Women have been raped in every era and every culture, even cultures that keep the sexes rigidly separated. Christian colleges
for instance. Muslim nations
. Ultra-orthodox Jewish
In Dreher's world-view, it's impossible for a guy who's experienced 'casual hook-up sex' to grasp that a woman no longer wants it. In that case, the problem's not with the casual sex, it's that the guy's a rapist. A woman doesn't lose her right to say no just because she's had 'consequences-free sex
Both Dreher and Taranto seem to think they know better than women what women want. Women may believe they're happier using birth control but Taranto, in his vast male wisdom, knows they'd be better off if society eliminated the opportunity for sex without pregnancy.
I can't help but suspect that this is more about keeping women in their place than keeping them happy.