Janice Shaw Crouse, an Evangelical, positively reviews Mary Eberstadt's book Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution (Ignatius, 2012) for The Family in America: A Journal of Public Policy:
Eberstadt is at her best in highlighting both the ironies and tragedies of sexual liberation. She laments the “sexual doublespeak” of popular women’s fashion magazines, a la Cosmopolitan, as they reveal “a widely contradictory mix of chatter about how wonderful it is that women are now all liberated for sexual fun—and how mysteriously impossible it has become to find a good, steady, committed boyfriend at the same time.” Children and young people, too, have suffered. A major legacy of the sexual revolution, she laments, “is the assault unleashed from the 1960s onward on the taboo against sexual seduction or exploitation of the young.” Young people imbibe a “toxic collegiate social brew made possible by the sexual revolution,” a revolution that now includes date rapes, hook-ups, binge drinking, and pervasive pornography. The toxic brew of today’s permissive culture, portrayed by Tom Wolfe in his 2004 novel I am Charlotte Simmons: A Novel, also features what Eberstadt calls contraception’s “permanent backup plan”: abortion. Instead of “liberating women from the slavery of their fertility” as some adversarial feminists claim, the Pill empowered a sexual revolution by absolving men of responsibility and, as Kay Hymowitz documents in Manning Up, left far too many in permanent adolescence. The net effect is a climate of “sexual obesity”—a phrase that Eberstadt borrows from University of Pennsylvania psychiatrist Mary Ann Layden—a perfect storm that includes pervasive pornography and attempts to mainstream pedophilia.
An unexpected dimension of the poisoned culture is the imposition of ersatz morals, evident in new obsessions with so-called safe sex and healthy eating, which have filled the vacuum left by the rejection of common-sense morality. Citing shifts that took place in public attitudes toward tobacco and pornography, Eberstadt believes these developments reveal a great deal about our current situation. In the 1950s, pornography was morally repugnant and tobacco smoking was entrenched in the culture. At that time, family-centered morality governed sexual behavior while food choices were morally neutral. Today, the moral valences have been reversed: anything goes sexually, but food choices carry moral significance. Borrowing from Friedrich Nietzsche, Eberstadt terms these shifts “the trans-valuation of values,” meaning “the ways in which the existing moral code would become transformed in a social order no longer centered on Judeo-Christianity.” We can only hope that by continuing to shine the spotlight of truth on the sexual-revolution juggernaut, we can halt and then reverse the cultural pollution, the widespread discontent, and the collateral damage.