Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution

Mary Eberstadt exposes the social and personal consequences of contraception in 'Adam and Eve after the Pill'.

No single event since Eve first took the apple has been as consequential for relations between the sexes as the arrival of modern contraception,” social researcher Mary Eberstadt writes in Adam and Eve after the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution, which was published this year by Ignatius Press.

The social consequences of the pill continue to make news, as the recent controversy over the Obama Administration’s HHS mandate requiring employers, including church-affiliated nonprofit groups and organizations with moral and religious objections, to cover their employees’ insurance coverage for contraception.

“The federal government – our United States federal government – is currently pushing the views expressed in this book to the sidelines” said Kathryn Jean Lopez, Editor-At-Large of National Review Online. Said Lopez, “Adam and Eve after the Pill is a protest vote.”

Government-mandated insurance coverage for the pill, critics maintain, has put many in the perilous position of acting against their beliefs or facing fines because they drop insurance coverage for employees in order to avoid being forced to pay for the pill against their deeply-held religious beliefs.

“The Catholic bishops didn’t just dream up a fight over contraception; it was forced on them, as Catholics’ conscience rights have been directly trampled on,” Lopez added. “It’s a moment for a badly needed education and reflection on the immiseration of the last few decades, one that has pitted Adam and Eve against one another in a most unnatural way. Mary Eberstadt’s book is a treasure and a resource, and a cultural catechesis.”

The recent controversy is mainly a question of religious liberty, but closely linked to it is the unease many people have about certain aspects of the sexual revolution. “Deep down inside, a lot of people are uncomfortable with the fruits of the sexual revolution,” Eberstadt contends, “but there is cultural resistance to acknowledging them.”

Virtually everyone agrees that the pill has changed American culture – but has it changed things for the better? Eberstad's study looks at the social impact of contraception. Eberstadt concludes that, paradoxically, the sexual “liberation” associated with the Pill has produced widespread discontent.

Eberstadt notes that many in today’s culture today see benefits of the Pill – along with what she calls its “permanent backup plan”: abortion. There are those who say the pill has “liberated women from the slavery of their fertility;” and that because of the pill, men no longer have “to take responsibility for the women they had sex with and/or for the children that resulted.”

“It is the contention of this book that such benign renditions of the story of the sexual revolution are wrong,” Eberstadt writes. “That is to say, they are critically incomplete when measured against the weight of the evidence now before us.”

Eberstadt exposes facets of the sexual revolution:

• Women have gained freedom; but according to both expert and popular sources, they have lost happiness;

• Men have gained freedom, but turn instead to often-described Peter Pan syndromes and unprecedented levels of pornography consumption – thus subverting true intimacy:

• Children are victims more than ever before of exploitation and sexual predators:

 College campuses are breeding grounds for the emotional and physical damages cause by date rape, binge drinking and casual “hookups”.


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