Free Love: Boulevard or Cul-de-Sac

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Conventional wisdom tells us that if you tell a lie often enough people begin to believe it.

In the 1920s era of the Flapper, both smoking and hard drinking were considered sophisticated. It was chic to smoke and the elegant movie stars and urbane socialites all dangled their cigarettes and drank their cocktails with elan. Remember the three-martini lunch? It took 50 years for data to finally get through to the elites that smoking is bad for health; that alcoholic beverages are dangerous for pregnant women and that to drink and drive is dangerous, period.

In today’s era, smoking and drinking to excess are considered dlass and have been replaced by health club memberships and mineral water. Sophistication today is achieved through sexual cynicism.

On sexual realities, however, the truth still hasn’t gotten through. The radical feminist rhetoric of the past 30 years is not quite as in vogue as it used to be, but its ethic of sexual experimentation is widespread – not surprising really, since the popular media has saturated our culture with the feminist lie of sexual freedom.

On a recent plane trip, I watched a real-life Sex and the City vignette unfold in front of me. While I was waiting in a gate area of a Florida airport, a very confident, well-dressed and handsome 40-something Mr. Big entered and sat near me. His expensive country-club clothing and self-assurance set him apart from the other travelers — many of them waiting in jeans and t-shirts. Shortly, he was joined by a lovely, equally elegant woman around his age.

She was not a jaded sophisticate; neither was she an angry, hard woman. Instead, her demeanor was diffident and uncertain. I watched as he looked everywhere but at her; aloof and detached, he never even glanced in her direction. She, on the other hand, would glance at him and then look away. She would lean toward him and make a hesitant, brief comment with a slight, tentative smile. He would nod, but never did even turn in her direction or make eye contact.

Intrigued by the difference in their self-confidence and the lack of “connection” between them, I noticed that neither was wearing a wedding ring. They were obviously returning from a vacation together. Equally apparent was the fact that the man held all the cards in their relationship.

Watching their pas de deux, it all seemed so dismally predictable to anyone with an ounce of real-world experience, unindoctrinated by the faux cheer (and easy resolution during sweeps time), of a Friends storyline. She appeared insecure and uncertain about her role in the life of a man she loved. Was she worried about their future as a couple after their tryst at the beach? He appeared to be giving her ample reason for concern.

She had traveled a boulevard of sexual freedom to a relationship cul-de-sac where there was emotionally neither a way out, nor a way to turn back the clock. Their future as a couple was now totally dependant upon his whims.

She may have been yearning for permanence and a future together, but to all appearances, she’d have to settle for merely that vacation in Florida . . . such are the paltry rewards of sexual freedom.

The devotion to this cynical credo is particularly evident on the college campuses where I am a frequent speaker. Sometimes the hostility is palpable toward traditional views of family and motherhood; more often it is merely a below-the-surface attitude that today’s women don’t particularly need men, nor do they want to step off the fast-track of career success in order to accommodate a husband and children.

Sadly, the data tells us that contemporary cultural trends are not any more female-friendly than they have been for millennia. Sexual competition is still a young woman’s playing field. But apparently many of today’s young women, playing around with Mr. Big, aren’t aware that they should be competing to find “Mr. Right” before their fertility runs out. Most of them don’t realize that, after college, their marital options greatly shrink at the same time that their window of opportunity for children is closing.

Young women need to hear the whole truth: by focusing on career over marriage and family in their 20’s and 30’s, they strengthen the likelihood that career is all that they will have left in their 40s.

I continue to be the bearer of bad news on college campuses — sexual promiscuity and careerism at the expense of biology are destructive to a woman’s well-being. Ultimately, women bear the brunt of the social trends that accompany so-called sexual freedom.

But, just as the image of death from smoking countered Hollywood’s pictures of glamorous stars holding cigarettes, today there are glimmers of hope in the data that is piling up against the myths of “free love.” Out-of-wedlock births are down, abortions are down and the number of sexually experienced teens is declining.

A new generation needs to get the news before they end up like the lovely woman in Florida, impeccably dressed, undeniably free. . . and utterly lonely. I saw the pair again at baggage claim when we arrived at our destination. Apparently, she had finally succeeded in securing his attention. He reached over and fondled her intimately, indiscreetly and possessively. I couldn’t see her facial expression, but her body stiffened and she leaned away from the inappropriateness of his groping.

Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse is a columnist and Senior Fellow of the Beverly LaHaye Institute of Concerned Women for America.

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