The Problem of Sex

Pretty soon, writes Douglas Murray in the The Spectator, "there'll be no sex at all." With the paralyzing spate of assault accusations roiling the West, it seems that the sexual revolution begun in the 1960s has reached the Reign of Terror stage. Fear hangs over political offices and workplaces everywhere. Murray writes:

We are in the middle of a profound shift in our attitude towards sex. A sexual counter-revolution, if you will. And whereas the 1960s saw a freeing up of attitudes towards sex, pushing at boundaries, this counter-swing is turning sexual freedom into sexual fear, and nearly all sexual opportunities into a legalistic minefield.

The rules are being redrawn with little idea of where the boundaries of this new sexual utopia will lie and less idea still of whether any sex will be allowed in the end.

If sex is finished, it will be bad news for the human race not simply because homo sapiens, like nearly every other species, rely on it to stave off extinction, but because sex has defined humanity's hopes and posterity for millennia. From Robert Jordan urging Maria to leave with the rest because "what I do now I must do alone" to Rick Blaine explaining to Ilsa that "where I'm going you can't follow," sex forms the bridge between a mortal individual and the immortal species. For generations, there has been nothing so masculine as to die for the woman you love.

But like all powerful urges, sex was dangerous. Only by taming it was civilization possible. Communities required the invention of the family, and at the family's core lay the injunction against molesting women within it. Though its origins are lost to history, the incest taboo remains one of the most universal and enduring of human prohibitions. Its ubiquity is indicative of its importance. "All human cultures have norms that exclude certain close relatives from those considered suitable or permissible sexual or marriage partners, making such relationships taboo... Debate about the origin of the incest taboo has often been framed as a question of whether it is based in nature or nurture."

However, its utility was not in question. The family and other social institutions like gender segregation prevented women from being dragged off caveman style. They provided the original "safe space." For all their defects -- some studies today show 15 percent of girls and four percent of boys are molested by "someone they knew well" -- these institutions performed a key role in society until the sexual revolution tore them apart.

The Sexual Revolution, also known as a time of Sexual Liberation, was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the United States and subsequently, the wider world, from the 1960s to the 1980s. Sexual liberation included increased acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationships (primarily marriage). The normalization of contraception and the pill, public nudity, pornography, premarital sex, homosexuality, and alternative forms of sexuality, and the legalization of abortion all followed.