It’s now more than 50 years since the revolution began. Sexual “liberation” has been endlessly ballyhooed by the national media, promoted in the movies, embraced by Playboy guys and Cosmo girls as a freedom more delicious than Eden’s apple. No American under 40 can honestly remember a time when sex on TV was taboo, when “living together” meant married, when “gay” meant happy, and when almost every child lived with both parents.
If truth be told, the revolution has been a disaster. Before the push to loosen America’s sexual mores really got under way in the 1950s, the only widely reported sexually transmitted diseases in the United States were gonorrhea and syphilis. Today we have more than two dozen varieties, from pelvic inflammatory disease (which renders more than 100,000 American women infertile each year) to AIDS (which presently infects 42 million people worldwide and has already killed another 23 million). According to a report by scientists at the National Cancer Institute, a woman who has three or more sex partners in her lifetime increases her risk of cervical cancer by as much as 1,500 percent. In another finding that runs contrary to all that the sex researchers preached, a survey at the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center showed that married men and women, on average, are sexually happier than unwed couples merely living together. And even if live-in couples do marry, they’re 40 to 85 percent more likely to divorce than those who go straight to the altar.
So what happened? Was science simply wrong? Well, not exactly — the truth is more complicated than that.