March 23rd 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Federally, the pro-family voter is starved for choice

SPECIAL EDITORIAL Has Cardinal George Pell been wrongly convicted?

EDITORIAL For politicians: lessons from Europe's emerging pro-family parties

ENERGY Hundreds of years of oil and gas reserves; if we want to use them

THE CARDINAL AND THE MEDIA Four Corners: the third trial of Cardinal Pell

SOCIETY AND RELIGION The future belongs to those who possess the past

SCIENCE Are summer heatwaves caused by climate change?

CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE The roots of the breaking of a fundamental taboo

CARDINAL PELL CONVICTION Triumphalism over Pell verdict shows civilisation is just a veneer

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS President Donald Trump: an unlikely promise keeper Part 1

THE AUSTRALIAN CLIMATE Same old same old in our beloved sunburnt country

THE AUSTRALASIAN A three years' drought

ASIAN AFFAIRS Taiwan reaches out to its regional neighbours

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Covington boys: left hoist on its bigots' petard

MUSIC Time's unfolding: One of music's raw materials

CINEMA Stan & Ollie: Past joys, past sorrows

BOOK REVIEW The three-part attack on the home

BOOK REVIEW What draining the DC swamp turns up



Books promotion page

The three-part attack on the home

News Weekly, March 23, 2019

THE SEXUAL STATE: How Elite Ideologies Are Destroying Lives and Why the Church Was Right All Along

by Jennifer Roback Morse

TAN Books, Charlotte, NC
Hardcover: 420 pages
Price: AUD$55.95

Reviewed by Michael Quinlan

Dr Jennifer Roback Morse has a PhD in economics and is the founder of the not-for-profit Ruth Institute. The Sexual State is her fourth book.

In this book Dr Morse argues that the Sexual Revolution was the result of deli­berate actions by the elites. She argues that the positions taken in this revolution are false, counter-intuitive and contrary to human nature and that their spread was only possible due to the co-opting of the coercive power of the state. She argues that the Sexual Revolution has brought unnecessary misery, pain and hardship to millions, misery that would have been avoided to their benefit and to the benefit of society as a whole had the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church on matters of sexual morality been preferred.

While the book focuses on the United States, the arguments could equally be made in relation to Australia.

Morse argues that the Sexual Revolution consists of three main ideologies. These are the Contraceptive Ideology, the Divorce Ideology and the Gender Ideology. The Contraceptive Ideology claims that people need sexual activity understood as an entitlement but that childbearing is a choice that must be separated from that activity. This necessitates ready availability of contraceptives, and abortion should the contraceptives fail to be effective.

The Divorce Ideology claims that adults do not owe their children any serious rights or obligations, children do not suffer from divorce, and that divorce must be readily available without the assignment of any fault to a spouse, particularly on the grounds of immoral sexual behaviour. The Divorce Ideology supports cohabitation of non-married couples, sex outside of marriage and childbearing outside of marriage. In so doing it separates sex, childbearing, childrearing and family from marriage.

The Gender Ideology claims that there are no distinctions between men and women and that any perceived differences are unjust social constructs.

Morse considers and dismisses explanations for the Sexual Revolution that suggest causes other than the actions of elites. She rejects an explanation grounded in the march of history and impersonal forces such as the availability of new contraceptive technologies and social and economic forces. She argues that methods of contraception have always been available and that the deve­lopment of the contraceptive pill was not a revolution in and of itself. Morse argues that the revolution was rather in the way that individuals and couples began to think about sex, childbearing and marriage as mechanical and impersonal.

Morse also rejects a feminist narrative for the Sexual Revolution. She argues that the speed with which the Sexual Revolution was adopted is inconsistent with the feminist narrative, which claims that throughout history women have been powerless.

Morse rejects the liberationist narrative that people should be afforded more freedom to act as they like to the benefit of society as a whole on similar grounds. She argues that constraints powerful enough to last thousands of years could not disappear in a generation without consequence.

Morse argues that, contrary to the liberationist narrative, the Sexual Revolution has substantially increased the power of the state and reduced the freedom of individuals. The state, through its family courts, must now descend into the minutiae of the daily lives of children and their divorced parents (where the children go to school, how much time they spend with each parent, where they live, how much money one parent must pay the other towards their upkeep).

The Sexual Revolution has also necessitated increases in taxation as the state becomes involved in legalising, supporting and funding contraception, abortion, gender reassignment, artificial reproductive technologies and surrogacy. As a consequence of the Sexual Revolution, the state must also provide for children in greater numbers who have no permanent relationship with both parents and provide for the consequences of their increased likelihood of poverty, illness, low academic achievement and crime.

Morse argues that the state was and is needed to effectuate the Sexual Revolution because its ideologies are false: “Sex does make babies. Children do need their parents, and therefore marriage is the proper and just context for both sex and childbearing. Men and women are different.”

She argues that overriding nature and convincing people that there is no necessary connection between sex and babies and that biological connections are unimportant and that men and women are not different takes a lot of effort and requires powerful support:

“An ideology that cannot make room for the basic facts of human reproduction and sex differences is an ideology that will end up at war with the human body, with nature itself and ultimately with the entire human race. In that war, it will go looking for allies where it can find them. It finds its most powerful and indispensable ally in the state.”

Morse argues that the state’s purpose is no longer to promote general welfare or to protect people from force or fraud but “to give people the sex lives they want with a minimum of inconvenience”. She argues that the state has engaged in propaganda of the Contraception Ideology by promoting the scientifically inaccurate claim that contraception can render infertile unlimited sexual activity between an otherwise fertile couple. She points to statistics that demonstrate an average contraception failure rate of about 10 per cent and that failure is most likely in the very groups that are the target of most promotion of contraception: the young, the poor, the unmarried and racial minorities.

Morse also points to the downplaying of medical risks involves in hormonal contraception, the lack of focus on the risks of sexually transmitted disease and of the emotional, psychological and social consequences of casual sex. She also observes the lack of promotion of alternative and natural means of spacing pregnancies and the downplaying of medical and psychological risks associated with abortion.

Morse also argues that propaganda promotes the Divorce Ideology by downplaying the real impacts on children of divorce and by promoting the view that no-fault divorce is necessary to protect women from domestic violence. As Morse observes, the reality is that domestic violence is a greater risk to women in cohabitating non-marital relationships than to married women.

Morse also argues that, as the Sexual Revolution has resulted in greater loneliness, an unmet need for belonging, a craving for sexual stimulation and increasing vulnerability have all increased the power of big business, bureaucracy, media and mass entertainment.

Perhaps the most pernicious aspect of the Sexual Revolution identified by Morse is that its victims are not the elites who have developed and pressed the state to pursue and propagandise its ideologies but the less educated classes and those in the lowest socio-economic groups.

The college-educated managerial class in the Unites States, Morse observes, has a divorce rate and has children outside of marriage at a rate comparable with those of the 1950s; and those in that class and their children continue to benefit from stable family lives. It is the poor and less educated who are most likely to be raising children outside marriage and who are most suffering from the consequences of the Sexual Revolution.

Against each of the ideologies of the Sexual Revolution Morse provides the Catholic view, which recognises that men and women are different and sees marriage between one man and one woman as the integral and only proper place for the complete self-giving love expressed in sexual activity and childbearing. She argues that this alternative is to be preferred, particularly given the lived experience of the consequences of the Sexual Revolution.

Morse argues that society does not need to remain in the grip of the false ideologies which comprise the Sexual Revolution and concludes her book with a “manifesto for the family”, comprising 12 preferred changes to the law and three social and cultural changes designed to support families and children.

In The Sexual State, Morse has written a clear and detailed exposé of the damage wrought by the Sexual Revolution and produced a thesis for its causes. She has also set out the Catholic alternative to the three ideologies that she identifies as the key components of the Sexual Revolution.

Morse has not written a dispassionate, academic tome but a volume in which her personal views are transparent and her desire to persuade clear. Unfortunately the book is most likely to be read by those who already agree with its conclusions rather than by those who subscribe to any or all of the ideologies of the Sexual Revolution.

Nevertheless the book may inspire some to take up Morse’s call for action and over time these calls may start to bear fruit.

If you are interested in understanding how the Sexual Revolution took hold and what might be done to combat it, then you will definitely benefit from reading this book.

Professor Michael Quinlan is Dean of the School of Law, Sydney, and Acting Dean of the School of Business, Sydney, at the University of Notre Dame Australia.

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