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Christopher White reviews Adam and Eve After the Pill by Mary Eberstadt.
BY Christopher White
ADAM AND EVE AFTER THE PILL
Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution
By Mary Eberstadt
Ignatius Press, 2012
175 pages, $19.95
To order: ignatius.com
Throughout the centuries, mankind has endured various periods of great struggle and human obstinacy. One such case is the Cold War. It is no secret that the bleak economic conditions and widespread political oppression were dangerously bad for those under communist rule. Despite the evidence of this, many academics and societal elites still refuse to acknowledge the failures of the system — even when the historical record serves as evidence against them.
In a similar manner, others have failed — and are failing — to acknowledge the poisonous repercussions of the sexual revolution.
This “will to disbelieve” is the subject of Mary Eberstadt’s timely new book, Adam and Eve After the Pill: Paradoxes of the Sexual Revolution.
Eberstadt, a research fellow at the Hoover Institute and a prolific author, sees very clearly just what the last half century of supposed sexual liberation has wrought us. In an age where women are supposedly freer than ever, they have instead become slaves to the very thing that was supposed to liberate them: artificial contraception.
After reading Adam and Eve After the Pill, one is hard-pressed to consider just what about the sexual revolution, if anything, has actually been positive for women.
Full of the latest findings from various sociologists, Eberstadt allows the facts to speak for themselves. And the facts she presents are not encouraging. Not only has the pill radically altered the way in which women and men relate to each other sexually, it has created a society in which pornography is commonplace, premarital childbirth and cohabitation are considered the norm, and the hook-up culture of college campuses is not simply accepted, but, rather, expected.
The crescendo of Adam and Eve After the Pill is its concluding chapter, “The Vindication of Humanae Vitae.” Fewer documents produced by the Church have been so despised as Pope Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical condemning the use of artificial contraception.
Despite his countercultural stance toward contraception, Pope Paul was prescient to predict that the pill would open the floodgates to “a general lowering of moral standards throughout society; a rise in infidelity; a lessening of respect for women by men; and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments.” Forty-four years later, the consequences of the pill continue to plague us and will do so for years.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is intent on requiring all institutions — including Catholic ones — to provide insurance coverage for contraception, labeling it as a type of “preventive care.”
Pope Paul warned that the embrace of contraception would lead to such actions, and now we serve as witnesses to his foresight.
This will to disbelieve, as Eberstadt so acutely describes for us, is now shaping the hearts of our policymakers and the laws of the land.
Ever since Adam and Eve first ate of the forbidden fruit, we have been faced with the task of recovering a fractured version of human sexuality.
Adam and Eve After the Pill serves to remind us that the tree of knowledge is still yielding a rotten fruit.
Christopher White writes from New York.