I found it interesting that in 1999, when journalists were busy compiling lists of the biggest technological advances of the 20th century and / or 2nd millenium, the birth control pill was rarely mentioned. Neither were things like automated looms, or electrolytic capacitors (or soap, for that matter) -- because these are all things we take for granted.
But the still-capitalized Pill is getting press this week because it's celebrating its fiftieth birthday; and sex-symbol Raquel Welch, who is turning seventy this September, doesn't think it's necessarily been a good thing.
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.
Look, I don't want to pick on the woman too much. She's an actress, not a sociologist. But her argument doesn't even make sense on its face.
She says that the Pill has led to a lack of sexual commitment, which has led in turn to infidelity. Seems to me that you can't have infidelity without a commitment in the first place. Moreover, I suspect that infidelity pre-dated the advent of the Pill. I can't prove this -- I was born into this nightmarish post-Pill world -- but the word "infidelity" seems to have been coined before 1960. I tend to read a lot of old books and watch a lot of old movies, and damned if the word doesn't keep popping up.
I'm pleased that Welch is self-aware enough to acknowledge her own four marriages, as well as her own role in creating the highly sexualized culture we inhabit today.
But the fact that she acknowledged these things don't make her any less a hypocrite. The truth is, a woman who's been married four times isn't in a position to lecture the rest of us on how to "honor a commitment". And a woman who spent her career trading on a pretty face and a big pair of gazongas should not be lecturing America's youth on the virtues of modesty and chastity.
There is no question that the birth-control pill helped to throw our society's sexual norms and expectations into chaos. Sorting it all out took decades, and it wasn't always pretty. But the good thing -- the truly wonderful thing -- that the Pill did was to make it possible for a woman to make her sexual decisions not out of fear of an unwanted pregnancy, but for her own reasons and on her own timetable.
There is nothing more immoral than a "morality" enforced by fear; and it is amazing that fifty years after the Pill's introduction, there are still people out there who want the fear back.