Debate on the Sexual Revolution

What Women Really Think
March 27 2012 4:39 PM

The Sexual Revolution is Dead! Long Live the Sexual Revolution!


Photo by CARL COURT/AFP/Getty Images

One thing Erica Jong always wants to make sure you understand is that nothing ever changes. Stale old white men still rule the world, the ‘70’s remain the only decade that ever mattered, Erica Jong is still being overlooked for “professorships and prizes,” women “still have wombs and breasts and need health care different from men so we can still be manipulated.”


Jong's piece in the Daily Beast  is responding to an essay I wrote in the Wall Street Journal defending the sexual revolution. But apparently I did not defend the sexual revolution in exactly the correct way, because I “just don’t get it,” she writes and what I don’t seem to get is that Erica Jong and her truly feminist contemporaries (as opposed to the fake feminists of my generation) marched in the streets in vain, because after all these years, all their marching has not changed the fact that we “still have wombs and breasts,” etc.   

Well forgive me, but if the disappearance of “wombs and breasts” is the only standard for victory how will we ever win? One thing that gets muddled in moments like this, by which I mean the current “war on women,” is just how much things have changed since, say, the 1970’s. Just because Rick Santorum exists (and in every American election, I can assure you, there will always be a Rick Santorum) does not mean we have been thrown back into the pre civil rights era. The most convincing responses to, say, Rush Limbaugh, are full of condescension and humor, because the only appropriate thing to say at this moment is some version of, “Are you serious?”

As Margaret Talbot pointed out in the New Yorker, a society that has become utterly dependent on the unfettered ambition of women can not with a straight face reopen a conversation about contraception. And that’s where things have changed. We can fight  Rick Santorum and Rush Limbaugh but we can’t be expected to take them seriously.  

Hanna Rosin is the founder of DoubleX and a writer for the Atlantic. She is also the author of The End of Men. Follow her on Twitter.


Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.


Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.