We have been sold on the line that birth control has increased a woman’s power over her own life. However, along with turning children into the number one threat to a woman’s happiness, birth control has changed the way women and men mature emotionally and psychologically. Writing for the Institute for Family Studies, Meg T. McDonnell asserts that the prevalence of birth control “inhibit[s] the development of emotional maturity, flexibility, and relational trust among Millennials.” She writes:
The work of biological anthropologist Helen Fisher and others have confirmed the impact of sex and love on the brain, including that women particularly are more vulnerable to developing feelings of attachment to a sexual partner, regardless of romantic intentions or commitment, because of the hormones activated in the sexual act. Numerous books—Sex and the Soul by Professor Donna Frietas, Unhooked by Laura Sessions Stepp, Unprotected by Dr. Miriam Grossman, to name a few—have told stories about the emotional and relational strain caused by casual or nonmarital sex, showing, too, how that turmoil seeps into other areas of life, leading to more depression, less success at work and school, and more trouble in relationships. To wit, the connection forged through sex makes it much more difficult to properly discern other important elements of compatibility, such as maturity, emotional connection, and trust.
Did feminists, in an attempt to liberate women, actually stunt their emotional and psychological growth? Has this generational growth problem stalled many a Millennial woman’s ability to achieve happiness and contentment? The answer in one word is yes.
You don’t need to look very far beyond Sex & the City to prove that McDonnell’s point about pursuing “maturity, emotional connection, and trust” over sexual gratification doesn’t just apply to low-income teen moms. Take, for example, Melanie Notkin’s strange piece in the New York Post highlighting a series of Manhattanite Millennials so obsessed with marriage and kids that they just can’t commit to getting married and having kids. Basing your dating life on who’s hot or not has created a mindset focused on instant gratification instead of long-term commitment.
And then there’s the money issue. The career push has liberated women from being financially dependent on men, giving both partners even less impetus to connect with and trust one another. It’s no wonder then that Millennial women who out-earn their male partners cite money as the number one problem in their relationship. This isn’t just because their guys want to be the breadwinners, but because they want their guys to be the breadwinners. As one writer noted, “The women most frustrated by their breadwinner status never considered it could happen, didn’t expect it to last, or can’t find a way to do things differently even when they want to.” The headline “Millennial women are ‘worried,’ ‘ashamed’ of out-earning boyfriends, husbands” says it all. Before birth control, women were “worried” and “ashamed” if their boyfriend didn’t do the right thing about a pregnancy out of wedlock. Now they’re freaking out that something as material (and fleeting) as a paycheck will keep their guy from ever saying “I do.”
The widespread use of contraception before marriage has stunted the emotional and psychological growth of an entire generation, forcing both women and men into a state of permanent kidulthood and utter bewilderment regarding their lack of happiness and long-term contentment. Millennials parenting the next generation would be wise to keep these culturally taboo ramifications of birth control in mind when it’s time to have “the talk” with our own brood.