Revisiting the Sexual Revolution
You know the sexual revolution has gotten out of hand when a “proud feminist” and a radical atheist start questioning what’s going on. Newton’s Third Law of Motion famously says that “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.” Take a rocket for example: The engines fire in one direction, which causes the rocket to move in the opposite direction. Now think about culture, specifically, the #MeToo movement. Anyone with a shred of decency would agree that the kind of behavior described in The New York Times and elsewhere regarding Harvey Weinstein is intolerable. But a growing number of people are already questioning whether the #MeToo movement has gone too far. What about due process for the accused? Isn’t there a difference between offensive behavior and sexual assault? And who sets the standards for what’s acceptable and what isn’t? Not only are people having second thoughts, some are even pushing back. This includes folks from liberal outlets such as Slate, The New York Times, and, most recently, “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO. Maher’s guest on Feb 9th was Bari Weiss, a staff editor and opinion writer at The New York Times. She describes herself as a “proud feminist” and a liberal. Weiss found herself at the center of controversy because of a column she wrote to a #MeToo story, about one woman’s sexual encounter with comedian Aziz Ansari. Weiss expressed some sympathy for the woman for Ansari’s behavior, but she also wrote that, “If you are hanging out naked with a man, it’s safe to assume he is going to try to have sex with you.” Weiss’ column set off a firestorm from both sides, and even became the subject of a Saturday Night Live skit. On “Real Time,” Maher and Weiss talked about how in this cultural and political moment, no one knows what the rules are when it comes to dating and sex. Weiss pointed out that 25 percent of millennial men believe that simply asking someone out constitutes sexual harassment. Maher joked that no one knows what to write in Valentine’s Day cards this year. But then Weiss went somewhere unexpected . . . and Maher followed. She talked about, and I quote, the “lies that the sexual revolution sold to women.” Lies such as, “gender is a social construct; nature doesn’t matter at all; and there’s really no difference between men and women.” Yes, she said that. She said that she hoped all of this cultural chaos would be an opportunity to “revisit the sexual revolution.” She complained that all of the talk about sex these days is about “consent and pain.” “Whatever happened to intimacy, love, and romance?” she asked. The audience applauded. Maher then pointed out the contradiction of a culture in which people simultaneously worry about whether courtship is harassment, and then use the app Tinder to “hook up” with total strangers twenty minutes later. It was an amazing exchange. Weiss the feminist and Maher the atheist underscored two truths we often talk about here on BreakPoint. First: Ideas have consequences, and bad ideas have victims. The lies of the sexual revolution have left an entire generation of people clueless about how to do what came naturally to our parents and grandparents: meet, fall in love and spend the rest of our lives together. Here’s the second truth it underscored: The real test of a worldview is the test of reality. Because the sexual revolution is grounded in lies about the human person, it can’t help but make a total mess of things. Bari Weiss was right. The #MeToo movement—even its excesses—is offering us all a great opportunity to “re-visit” the sexual revolution. So let’s take it. And even if our secular friends are late to this conversation, it’s a good thing that they’re joining in.