The Case Against the Sexual Revolution: Part 25, Listen to Your Mother

Today we reach the end of Louise Perry's The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, a conclusion entitled "Listen to Your Mother."

Perry starts her Conclusion by summarizing the big points of the book, captured in her provocative chapter titles, along with sharing a list of advice that she would offer her own daughter, advice that she wishes all young women being raised in hookup culture could hear. Some of Perry's advice to young women and daughters:

  • Distrust any person or ideology that puts pressure on you to ignore your moral intuition. 
  • Chivalry is actually a good thing. We all have to control our sexual desires, and men particularly so, given their greater physical strength and average higher sex drives.
  • A man who is aroused by violence is a man to steer well clear of, whether or not he uses the vocabulary of BDSM to excuse his behavior. If he can maintain an erection while beating a woman, he isn't safe to be alone with.
  • Consent workshops are mostly useless [in preventing rape]...
  • Get drunk or high in private and with female friends rather than in public or in mixed company.
  • Holding off on having sex with a new boyfriend for at least a few months is a good way of discovering whether or not he's serious about you or just looking for a hook-up.
  • Only have sex with a man if you think he would make a good father to your children--not because you necessarily intend to have children with him, but because this is a good rule of thumb in deciding whether or not he's worthy of your trust.
  • Monogamous marriage is by far the most stable and reliable foundation on which to build a family.

Perry admits that her advice isn't particularly novel or new. As she writes, "I wrote in the first chapter that none of my advice would be ground-breaking, and I stand by that."

You may like, or not like, Perry's advice. You might want to create your own list, different from Perry's or expanded. But what strikes me is simply the need for advice, perhaps even a desperate, urgent need. 

This reminds me of a post I wrote a while back, defending the likes of Jordan Peterson and Joel Osteen, two very problematic characters, to say the least. Why would I do something so unpopular and alarming in defending those two? Well, I wasn't defending them, I was merely trying to suss out their appeal, what makes them so popular. And what I surmised is that both Peterson and Osteen traffic in giving advice. Advice that is pretty obvious and banal. Not unlike Perry's advice above. But advice, nonetheless. And it raises the question: Why is advice so attractive?

Well, I argued, we are living in a world where families are broken. Young people aren't getting much parenting anymore. Our mediating institutions, like local churches, are also dying. Consequently, young people lack intergenerational friendships where wisdom was once imparted. To put the matter bluntly, PornHub and TikTok are raising this generation of young people.

In short, there is a need for some good old-fashioned advice. Wisdom, even the obvious stuff, can get a hearing if you're willing to share it.

And that's how Perry ends her book, with a call for parenting. Perry points to a 2021 viral TikTok post by young woman called Abby. In the post, Abby says:

I, like many other college students, am someone who is entangled in hook-up culture, and often hook-up culture makes it difficult for me to determine whether or not what I'm doing is good for me and kind to myself...

Abby goes on to share pictures of herself as a little girl. She imagines herself being her own mother, talking to that little girl. And as Abby reflects upon how she's been treated in hooking up with men, she asks herself the questions she thinks a mother would ask: "Am I OK with that for her?" and "Would I let this happen to her?" Watching Abby trying to be her own parent, Perry comes to the end of her book:

Abby is trying to mother herself, though she isn't quite sure how to do it. And thousands of young women in her replies are trying to do the same...They've been denied the guidance of mothers, not because their actual mothers are unwilling to offer it but because of a matricidal impulse in liberal feminism that cuts young women off from the 'problematic' older generation. This means not only that they are cut off from the voices of experience, but--more importantly--they are cut off from the person who loves them most in the world. Feminism needs to rediscover the mother, in every sense.

Until we do, each individual woman will have to learn on her own the lie of the promise of sexual liberation--the lie that tells us, as Andrea Dworkin phrased it, that 'fucking per se is freedom per se.' It was a lie all along. It's time, at last, to say so.

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