This month’s blog post is submitted by Mr. Jonathon Van Maren, member of the NRC in Norwich. He writes the following:
There is no series of historical events that has impacted every human living in the Western world today—and even beyond—more than the Sexual Revolution.
What is the Sexual Revolution? How did it come to be the new norm? Do we even realize how much we, as Christians, are influenced by it today? Jonathon shares his research and views on how we got where we are today.
The forgotten and misunderstood history of the Sexual Revolution
The 1970s blew to smithereens an entire structure of sexual morality. Revolutions like that do not last forever. They cannot. But the ending of a revolution is not the same thing as the restoration of the old order. It is the institutionalization of a new one.
–David Frum, How We Got Here
The Sexual Revolution and the new normal
There is no series of historical events that has impacted every human living in the Western world today—and even beyond—more than the Sexual Revolution. And yet, while many are certainly familiar with the term, almost no one can explain what the Sexual Revolution is. Internet pornography, legalized abortion, the gay liberation movement, hook-up culture, contraception, public nudity, transgenderism, and threats to religious freedom are all either part of or the direct result of the Sexual Revolution. Television, the film industry, advertising agencies, academia, the media, and the music industry have all been shaped by the Sexual Revolution, and play an incessantly active role in promoting it. We are so saturated by these influences that rarely do we even notice. We simply take it for granted that this is the way things are, often without questioning how or why these things came to be.
For example, consider hook-up culture on campuses, now considered the norm and lionized in dozens of stupid campus comedy films. When I was attending Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, it was just accepted that the binge-drinking that took place was accompanied by casual sex—and if that wasn’t happening, it wasn’t for lack of effort on behalf of the students. There was even a “Campus Hook-Up Bingo” game in the student newspaper, featuring great places to have sex like the baseball diamond and the lecture halls. One student had reportedly managed to convince someone to have casual coitus with him in every one of these locations.
I had discussions about campus hook-up culture often. One friend demanded to know why I wasn’t sleeping around. I responded with a question: “How many of the people that you were with do you wish you hadn’t hooked up with?” After a pause, the thoughtful response: “Most of them, I guess. Maybe even all of them.” Another classmate demanded to know how I could call myself a “dude” if I wasn’t “sleeping with chicks.” I simply asked him whether it took more of a man to keep one woman happy for a life time or dozens for ten minutes. To that one, I got an arched eyebrow, an appreciative chuckle, and no follow-up questioning.
The thing that shocked me? Almost none of them had considered the idea that perhaps waiting to have sex with someone you loved, inside of marriage, was worth it. Not one. Hook-up culture is the new normal. It is Christian sexual ethics that are the counter-culture. And it is imperative that we understand what happened to make it so.
As I travel across North America speaking on abortion and pornography, one of the things I often hear is a hopelessness and despair that the West is being flattened by the juggernaut of spreading moral decay. There is a feeling among many people that the restriction of religious liberty, the continued legality of abortion, and the redefinition of marriage are inevitable.
This is, of course, one of the most prominent and successful strategies of the secular left—they create an aura of inevitability while concurrently demonizing all those who oppose this new and mangled “progress” as Neanderthals on the cusp of being left behind by history. That inevitability becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, because many people don’t realize that the various battles in the Sexual Revolution actually all correlate to one another—that what we are seeing now is the end game of an incredibly vast and well-planned cultural project.
To understand the Sexual Revolution, it is essential to first understand the academic underpinnings that paved the way for the massive social change that swept the West during the 1960s and beyond. And the fact is that almost nothing you’ve heard or been taught is true. History has been presented to us in a deliberately false way. As George Orwell once noted, “The most effective way to destroy people is to deny and obliterate their own understanding of their history.”
In today’s culture, knowledge of history is itself fast becoming history. Late-night hosts have been known to make comedic hay of this growing cultural Alzheimer’s by asking people in the street mundane questions such as “Who were our allies in World War II?” to hilariously cringe-worthy responses.
But there is a distinctly unfunny side to our forgetfulness. We are very much at risk, as the old saying goes, not just of repeating history because we have forgotten it, but of repeating it without even being aware that we are repeating it. It was this point that veteran Canadian journalist and author Ted Byfield, now in his eighties, emphasized over and over when I spoke with him some time ago. “We are swiftly abandoning many of the fundamental social and moral principles upon which our civilization is based,” he said. “That is, we’re zealously cutting off the branch we’re sitting on…very few people, whether educated or uneducated, know where those principles came from, and how we came to embrace them. We are dangerously ignorant of our own heritage and history.”
Byfield is right. When I began researching the social history of the West several years ago, I found myself consistently stunned by the simple fact that much of what I’d been taught—or at least led to believe–was untrue. While many university professors are lovely teachers and impressive academics that I count myself privileged to have met, there are also many aging hippies who abandoned their communes after the first good rainstorm for a more fertile way of disseminating their ideology—academia. In lecture halls in front of thousands of students, they sell their own version of how history has unfolded, leaving most of us completely unaware of how things have actually happened.
I’ve thought of this often since completing my own degree in history—Christian parents struggle against the influences of the culture to inculcate their children with traditional values and a Christian worldview, and then often pony up tens of thousands of dollars to universities just to give their faculties four years to dissuade them of this worldview.
This has often created in Christian parents a despair as they see their children drift farther and farther from their beliefs, heritage, and worldview—and these parents are often not equipped with the arguments to explain how their children are being sold a false bill of goods.
And they are. Consider, for example, a woman who could quite accurately be called “The Mother of the Sexual Revolution.”
Margaret Mead and 1928 Coming of Age in Samoa
Margaret Mead was a young anthropologist with a set of very specific ideological goals. She set out to help anthropology professor Frank Boas of Columbia University prove a thesis: that a person’s upbringing and environment shaped a person’s actions to a greater extent than genetic factors did. Together with another young scholar named Ruth Benedict, Mead set off to research the indigenous peoples of Samoa, spending nine months there—and the result of their time there was her 1928 book Coming of Age in Samoa.
The so-called revelations in this book left many in the academic world both thunder-struck and ecstatic. Margaret Mead described an idyllic island Eden in which people lived in an almost utopian harmony, with very little competition with one another and, most importantly, no draconian moral codes that restricted people’s sexual behavior. Rather, teenage Samoans had many sexual partners and were encouraged to engage in this free love South Seas hook-up culture. As Margaret Mead wrote admiringly, a young Samoan girl, “thrusts virtuosity away from her. … All of her interest is expended on clandestine sexual adventures.”
In other words, Christian morality and natural law were nothing but a hoax or a dangerous social construct.
The impact of this book cannot be underestimated. According to one historian (writing in Ted Byfield’s epic history of Christianity The High Tide and the Turn ), “This would prove the most highly circulated anthropological book ever written. It became required reading for all first-year anthropology courses, and played a key role in shaping sex education, criminal law, government social policies, and the popular view of acceptable sexual conduct.”
In other words, it changed everything.
As John Horgan put it in the Scientific American, Mead’s book “posed a challenge to Western sexual mores, which according to Mead inflicted needless suffering on young men and women. The metatheme of Coming of Age and all Mead’s subsequent work was that the way things are is not the way they must or should be; we can choose to live in ways that make us happier and healthier. Her writings helped inspire feminism, the sexual revolution, the human potential movement and other countercultural trends during the 1960s.”
It is mind-boggling to realize when looking at the body of “scholarly work” produced by people such as Margaret Mead that brought about such cataclysmic changes in traditional sexual mores that most of this work was shoddy research and wishful thinking. (For example, Margaret Mead’s daughter later revealed that her thrice-married mother had many sexual relationships with women, including her fellow anthropologist Ruth Benedict. When she left for Samoa in 1926, Mead informed her husband that, “I’ll not leave you unless I find someone I love more.” ) Yet academic communities, eager for any shred of “evidence” that could disprove Christianity, seized onto Mead’s work as yet more proof that Judeo-Christian values were outdated at best, and damaging at worst.
Much of Mead’s work has since been revealed to be a hoax. Mead set off with conclusions she needed to prove, and simply found the information she needed to substantiate those conclusions, never living with one Samoan family or learning the language in her entire nine-month stay. Her information on the sexual culture of the Samoans, it turns out, came almost entirely from two young girls.
Mead, working on several projects at once, found herself running out of time to interview adolescent girls. So instead, she decided to befriend two of her female Samoan companions, win their trust, and then obtain from them the information on Samoan sexual culture that she needed. She did not realize that by asking the sensitive and explicit questions she was asking, she was breaching Samoan code of etiquette—and the girls responded by playfully feeding Mead precisely the type of information she wanted to hear. Mead was triumphant, feeling sure that her friendship with these girls had led her to discover the real truth about sexual customs in Samoa. The girls thought the joke they had played on the nosy Western anthropologist was quite funny. Little did they realize that their playful joke would end up informing entire fields of academic study in North America, with decidedly unfunny consequences.
When scholar Dr. Derek Freeman decided, years later, to follow up on Mead’s research and travel to Samoa himself, he found that virtually all of her conclusions had been wrong. Samoans held to a very strict, if not puritanical, code of sexual ethics. There was no South Seas hook-up culture. He even tracked down the two girls Mead had based her analysis of Samoan sexual practices on. As Byfield puts it: “He found these individuals, by now elderly women, and reminded them of Mead’s visit. They began to giggle in embarrassment, he reported, recounting how they had told that white lady such awful lies and stories, not expecting her to believe them. They were sorry now to have so misled her, they said.”
Many in academia, seeing the foundation of so much of their worldview threatened, have savaged, personally maligned and slandered Freeman and other Mead critics. But most of them are now forced to admit that her work on the Samoans was fatally flawed. Unfortunately, our culture has already heeded the wishful thinking of Margaret Mead to such a great extent that much of the damage she has caused cannot be undone.
The Kinsey Reports
Mead was not the only one – another famous scientist, Dr. Alfred Kinsey, soon followed in her footsteps. His name will be immediately recognizable to most university graduates – he is heralded as the “Father of the Sexual Revolution.” Originally a zoologist who specialized in studying wasps, Kinsey decided to branch out into a new field, that of “sexology.” His resulting work, the Kinsey Reports, captured the imagination of the American people like nothing else had. His 1948 Sexual Behavior in the Human Male and his 1953 Sexual Behavior in the Human Female were cultural game-changers.
TIME magazine marveled at the reaction in its March 1, 1948 issue: “It weighed nearly three pounds, its 804 pages were a dreary morass of technical jargon and statistical charts, it cost $6.50. But last week the U.S. was taking to Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, commonly known as ‘the Kinsey report’ the way it had once taken to the Charleston, the yo-yo and the forcing two-bid. Not since Gone with the Wind had booksellers seen anything like it. Out less than two months, it had already sold 200,000 copies.”
It was the content, of course, that fascinated and perhaps titillated those who flocked out to purchase Kinsey’s work. Everything that anyone had ever known about sex, it turned out, was wrong—because most of the country was engaging in sexual behavior that was at best immoral by traditional standards, and at worse deviant and downright shocking. Kinsey wasn’t advising people to engage in these behaviors in his Kinsey Reports—at least not explicitly—he was saying that everyone was already engaging in them.
This too is taught in history classes as fact: My professor of American History taught our class during my first year in university that the Sexual Revolution hadn’t actually happened—because Kinsey revealed that everyone had been scandalous hypocrites all along. No one had ever really believed in or bothered to adhere to Christian morality in regards to sexuality—and our society just needed Alfred Kinsey to come along and break the conspiracy of silence.
Just like Margaret Mead, however, Kinsey had more personal reasons for turning from the study of wasps to an exploration of sex. As one writer noted recently in a New York Times review, “Kinsey presented himself to the world as a scientist and a conventional husband and father — Professor Kinsey, whom even his wife called Prok. It was an essential disguise for a man exploring controversial territory, but he was in fact far more complex. James H. Jones, a historian at the University of Houston, reveals in…[a] rich, awkward biography that Kinsey was energetically bisexual — Jones says ’homosexual’ despite Kinsey’s continuing sexual relationship with his wife — and a serious masochist. Kinsey also organized group sex among his senior staff, their spouses and outside volunteers, which he observed and had filmed, evidently to condition his investigators to their work and bond them together under his paternal authority as well as to record sexual behavior directly.”
And research they did. According to David Kupelian in The Marketing of Evil:
Funded by the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation and based on thousands of interviews, Kinsey had “discovered” that while American men of the World War II “greatest generation” pretended to be faithful and monogamous, virtually all of them—95 percent—were, according to 1948 law, sex offenders. Specifically, Kinsey claimed that 85 percent of males had intercourse prior to marriage, nearly 70 percent had sex with prostitutes, and 30-45 percent of husbands had extra-marital affairs. Moreover, from 10 to 37 percent of men had engaged in homosexual acts, according to Kinsey. In fact, the oft-repeated claim that one in ten human beings is homosexual—a cornerstone of the “gay rights” movement until it was debunked—came directly from Kinsey’s published research. In endless and graphic detail, Kinsey painted a picture of Americans as being amoral sexual animals in search of constant gratification.
When researching the true history of the Sexual Revolution and the cataclysmic cultural changes that swept the West over the past fifty years, it is constantly inferred that Christians have an inherent bias, making up a consistently noticeable double standard. That bias, of course, is their Christianity, which provides the lens through which they see the world and the foundation that underlies their work. Today more than ever, any opposition to abortion, pornography, or hook-up culture is often dismissed outright by intellectuals, the media, and the political establishment as Christian theology rather than evidence-based fact. The idea that those two concepts could coincide is ridiculed, although never disproven.
However, those intellectuals whose work supposedly debunked essential tenets of Christianity, especially in the area of sexuality, are bestowed with secular sainthood. Their biographies often read more like hagiographies, and even as their followers openly admit that cultural figures such as Margaret Mead and Alfred Kinsey were themselves flagrantly adulterous and promiscuous bi-sexuals, this obvious bias is never highlighted as evidence that they may have had powerful personal interests underlying the conclusions they brought forward.
A further and far more horrifying bias is evident in the historical treatment of Dr. Alfred Kinsey: The media, the scientific community, and the authorities ignored the fact that Kinsey facilitated the brutal sexual abuse of many children in his quest to prove that all human beings are sexual from birth until death. This information was not highlighted publicly until scholar Dr. Judith Reisman decided to take a look at Kinsey’s research on child sexuality, which forms the foundation of modern sex education.
Her resulting book, Kinsey, Sex and Fraud is so devastating that it requires, as she asks of the reader in the book, the suspension of disbelief. Alfred Kinsey not only invented and falsified much of his data—he facilitated brutal sex crimes against children:
Kinsey solicited and encouraged pedophiles, at home and abroad, to sexually violate from 317 to 2,035 infants and children for his alleged data on normal “child sexuality.” Many of the crimes against children (oral and anal sodomy, genital intercourse and manual abuse) committed for Kinsey’s research are quantified in his own graphs and charts. For example, “Table 34” on page 180 of Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” claims to be a “scientific” record of “multiple orgasm in pre-adolescent males.” Here, infants as young as five months were timed with a stopwatch for “orgasm” by Kinsey’s “technically trained” aides, with one four-year old tested 24 consecutive hours for an alleged 26 “orgasms.” Sex educators, pedophiles and their advocates commonly quote these child “data” to prove children’s need for homosexual, heterosexual, and bisexual satisfaction via “safe-sex” education. These data are also regularly used to “prove” children are sexual from birth.
The simple, chilling fact is that Alfred Kinsey and his companions actually defined children screaming, thrashing about in pain, passing out, and convulsing as “orgasm.” Most of these children were too young to speak, so the only way they could express themselves was by showing just how much they were suffering. And, stop-watches in hand, the Kinsey men recorded their reactions as evidence of child sexuality. The evidence of those sex crimes would then be used to justify many things we now take for granted, like modern sex education.
It is not an accident that in all likelihood, you’ve never heard of the truth behind the Kinsey Reports. Just as with Dr. Derek Freeman and his expose of Margaret Mead, the intellectual heirs of the Sexual Revolution have come out defending Dr. Alfred Kinsey fiercely by attempting to discredit and defame Dr. Judith Reisman in whichever way they can. Beginning in 1983 when Kinsey co-author Dr. Wardell Pomeroy refused to debate Reisman’s findings on CNN and instead threatened to sue her, CNN’s Crossfire, columnist Patrick Buchanan, Phil Donahue, and many other media outlets were threatened by the Kinsey Institute with lawsuits should they interview Dr. Reisman or feature her work.
Ten years later, Reisman discovered that the Kinsey Institute (which defines itself on its website as working “towards advancing sexual health and knowledge worldwide” and that “for over 60 years, the institute has been a trusted source for investigating and informing the world about critical issues in sex, gender and reproduction”) had been distributing defamatory materials about her, informing people that her research was not peer-reviewed (it was) and asking universities to forbid her research. Included in these materials was a warning to the recipients that the information should “not be attributed to the Kinsey Institute.”
The Kinsey Institute has had to fight Dr. Judith Reisman’s revelations tooth and nail—because time and time again, she’s illustrated that virtually everything about the Kinsey Reports is inaccurate and unreliable. Some time ago, I spoke with her about her book in which she systematically takes apart what she refers to as “Kinsey’s defaming of the Greatest Generation”:
1. [Dr. Kinsey’s team] ‘forced’ subjects to give the desired answers to their sex questions, 2. Secretly trashed three quarters of their research data, and 3. Based their claims about normal males on a roughly 86 percent aberrant male population including 200 sexual psychopaths, 1,400 sex offenders and hundreds each of prisoners, male prostitutes and promiscuous homosexuals. Moreover, so few normal women would talk to them that the Kinsey team labeled women who lived over a year with a man ‘married,’ reclassifying data on prostitutes and other unconventional women as “Susie Homemaker.”
Dr. Reisman, unfortunately, is often a lone voice crying in the wilderness. The cultural elites are determined to hide the fact that the intellectuals that provided the framework for the Sexual Revolution were frauds. Instead, Kinsey is celebrated in Hollywood bio-pics and held up as one of our society’s most influential thinkers. Unfortunately, he is.
The liberation of sex from love
It is impossible to underestimate the scale, speed and impact of the Sexual Revolution, set loose by the carefully orchestrated campaign Kinsey and his cohorts embarked on. There are many theories as to why a generation across the West—the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and beyond—decided to abandon the Judeo-Christian codes of sexual morality that had been the standard, to one extent or another, for well over a thousand years. It may have been the fact that a generation who had survived the Great Depression and fought World War II tried too hard to ensure that their children had everything, and literally spoiled them. It may have been the fact that official religion had not fared well through two world wars and its association with nationalism, and that Christianity was less and less a part of people’s personal lives. It could be that the Vietnam War, with the US government drafting young people who wanted no part in it and sending them off to fight in the jungles a world away, was the final straw in an already stirring rebellion against authority that galvanized the Left across the Anglosphere. In all probability, it was a combination of all of these and more. But whatever it was, it changed everything for everyone.
A young man named Hugh Hefner led the charge, launching Playboy in December 1953, the first step in mainstreaming pornography. He had been inspired by the work of Alfred Kinsey, writing later that, “If Kinsey had done the research, I was the pamphleteer, spreading the news of sexual liberation through a monthly magazine.” Hefner married in 1949, but the marriage did not last long as he began to live out the “liberation” he championed. He separated from his wife in 1956—according to biographer Steven Watts, their marriage had been marked by Hefner’s hedonism: “wife-swapping (Hefner slept with his sister-in-law), bisexuality, orgies, homemade porn films and serial affairs that go unmentioned here. Hefner had a bedroom next to his office and had taken to wearing his pyjamas to meetings as the boundaries between work and pleasure broke down.” His divorce was finalized in 1959, and Hefner soon publicly advertised himself as the playboy embodied by his magazine.
In short order, Playboy faced even cruder competitors as Penthouse and Hustler emerged, abandoning the veneer of sophistication Hefner tried to maintain for Playboy and selling precisely what the customers were looking for: Raw, crude, and unattached sex. After all, everyone knew that no one bought Playboy for the articles—that was a joke that everyone was in on.
With the lid of Pandora’s Box irreparably twisted from its hinges, pornography began to seep in everywhere—and women disinterested in visual porn began to drive a market for new obscenities. Novels like 1972’s The Flame and the Flower and 1974’s Sweet Savage Love, sex-drenched novels with graphic rape descriptions, sold millions of copies, the precursors to the soon-to-be booming Harlequin “romance” industry and the 50 Shades of Grey craze. It’s hard to discern whether or not these books were so popular because of changing attitudes on sexuality, or if these novels were part of the cultural engine changing those attitudes in the first place. Whatever the case, polls soon highlighted the fact that while Kinsey may have had to lie in the early 50’s about American attitudes towards sex, Kinsey’s prophetic deceits were becoming a reality of American life.
With the invention and dissemination of the birth control pill aiding the process, sexual promiscuity exploded into North American life. In his brilliant history How We Got Here, subtitled The 70’s: The Decade That Brought You Modern Life—For Better or for Worse, author David Frum lays out just how swiftly views on sex were transformed:
As late as 1972, when the National Opinion Research Center first began probing male and female sexual attitudes, a solid majority of American women condemned premarital sex as immoral…only 20% said that premarital sex was ‘not wrong at all’; almost twice as many men, 35 percent, did so…
Between 1970 and 1980, those lingering inhibitions flew straight out the window. Feminists like Germaine Greer championed promiscuity as a means to break women’s ‘doglike’ devotion to men, and the young women of the 1970s listened and obeyed. More than two-thirds of the women who turned eighteen between the end of the Korean War and the Kennedy inauguration acknowledged sleeping with only one man as of their thirtieth birthday—their fiancée or husband, presumably…
Between 1972 and 1982, the proportion of American women who fully or conditionally endorsed premarital sex jumped by nearly 20 percentage points, to 58 percent, with fully 36 percent of women now espousing the ultra-permissive view that premarital sex was ‘not wrong at all.’ Tentatively at first, but with rising confidence, women were claiming unrestricted erotic freedom. Their parents sighed and shrugged their shoulders. In 1967, 85 percent of the parents of college-age young people condemned premarital sex as morally wrong; by 1979, only 37 percent of parents still held out against the trend of the times.
Those numbers have not improved, and in our society today, the very idea that sex would be confined to a monogamous, heterosexual marriage is considered quaint and outdated, if not dangerous and “repressive.” Overt sexuality is virtually everywhere—as with all revolutions, the carpet-baggers and the profiteers were the first to show up. As corporations realized that “free love” was on the “free market,” they began to utilize sex as the most powerful tool in their arsenal. What pornographers and porn novelists could do, they could do, too. Newsweek magazine commented on the trend in 1967, as businesses, corporations and marketing firms began to get bolder:
The old taboos are dead are dying. A new, more permissive society is taking shape. Its outlines are etched most prominently in the arts—in the increasing nudity and frankness of today’s films, in the blunt, often obscene language seemingly endemic in American novels and plays, in the candid lyrics of pop songs and the undress of the avant-garde ballet, in erotic art and television talk shows, in freer fashions and franker advertising. And, behind this expanding permissiveness in the arts stands a society in transition, a society that has lost its consensus on such crucial issues as premarital sex…marriage, birth control and sex education; a society that cannot agree on standards of conduct, language, manners, on what can be seen and heard.
It is hard to fully comprehend just how far our society has come since then, but one example may help to highlight it: In the early 1900s, people would be arrested for indecent exposure should they decide to expose too much skin on the beach—or anywhere else. It was generally accepted that civilized people covered up, and that immodesty was not a virtue. In fact, when designer Louis Reard announced the release of his new bathing suit design, the bikini, in 1946, not a single fashion model would agree to wear it for him. Instead, he had to hire a stripper to model it for a rather shocked and scandalized public. Today most Christian families—even those who would consider themselves conservative—have been so brainwashed by the non-stop hyper-sexualisation of everything around us that they don’t even consider the bikini shocking or unacceptable. Most Christians don’t think twice about teenagers heading off to hang out together wearing virtually nothing. That the Christians of a short 60 years ago would be busily arresting most of the Christians of today for public indecency is a powerful testimony to how far the Sexual Revolution has advanced.
Since the 1960s, this is the cultural water we’ve all been swimming in. Hollywood, the music industry, television—each of these push the envelope with increasingly explicit sexuality of all forms. As each boundary comes down, the “artists” of our day plunge forward to the next one—and very rapidly, we all become used to it. Who can say anymore that they are shocked by sexually graphic billboards or advertisements? Who doesn’t take it for granted that virtually every corporation and industry is going to use sex, innuendo, and scantily-clad models to sell virtually everything? It’s very hard to be shocked or appalled by anything when you’re bombarded by it, day in and day out. Instead, we become acclimatized to the culture and simply accept the new normal. What poet David Muar wrote of pornography certainly applies to our culture generally as well:
Attributing pornography’s growth to demand by individuals ignores what we know by experience: if one walks down the street and sees ten images of women as sexual objects, one may certainly be able to reject those images; yet it is also true that one will have to expend a greater amount of energy rejecting those images than if one saw only five or two or none at all. Assuming that human beings have only a limited amount of energy, it is obvious that the more images there are, the harder it will be for the individual to resist them; one must, after all, expend energy on other activities too…The greater the frequency of such images, the greater likelihood that they will overwhelm people’s resistance. This fact is known, of course, by all those involved in advertising and media, and is readily accepted by most consumers—except when it comes to pornography.
That, of course, is precisely how the sexualization of our culture has worn so many people down. When the academic and author Allan Bloom was trying to explain the marriage of the Sexual Revolution and the corporations in his 1987 masterpiece The Closing of the American Mind, he painted a picture of the modern teenager that resonates still:
Picture a thirteen-year-old boy sitting in the living room of his family home doing his math assignment while wearing his Walkman headphones or watching MTV. He enjoys the liberties hard won over centuries by the alliance of philosophic genius and political heroism, consecrated by the blood of martyrs; he is provided with comfort and leisure by the most productive economy ever known to mankind; science has penetrated the secrets of nature in order to provide him with the marvelous, lifelike electronic sound and image reproduction he is enjoying. And in what does progress culminate? A pubescent child whose body throbs with orgasmic rhythms; whose feelings are made articulate in hymns to the joys of onanism or the killing of parents; whose ambition is to win fame and wealth in imitating the drag-queen who makes the music. In short, life is made into a nonstop, commercially prepackaged masturbational fantasy.