Blog Post

Women Rethink the Sexual Revolution

In a groundbreaking conference held in Washington DC last month, some of the Church’s most influential women spoke about how the #MeToo movement proves the abject failure of the now 50-year-old sexual revolution that was supposed to liberate us and set us free.

Writing for The Stream, Carrie Gress attended the May 31 conference entitled, “The #MeToo Moment: Second Thoughts on the Sexual Revolution,” which was sponsored by The Catholic Women’s Forum along with the Ethics and Public Policy Center (EPPC) and the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and took place in Washington DC.

Moderated by Mary Rice Hasson of EPPC, she opened the conference by saying that the #MeToo movement, which sparked widespread outrage over sexual harassment and the culture that condones it, has “created space” for women to ask questions about how the sexual revolution might have contributed to the problem.

“We step into that space today to begin that larger conversation,” Hasson said.

Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, Archbishop of the Diocese of Washington, spoke next, and addressed how the sexual revolution undermined the moral compass of life and led to increasingly acceptability of dissent from papal magisterium.

Mary Hassan

Mary Eberstadt of the Faith and Reason Institute spoke about the damages done by the pill and how its pioneers never foresaw the consequences even though some of their critics did, like Blessed Paul VI. In his document, Humanae Vitae, he warned that women would see their value “cheapened” and their dignity cast aside as a result of using artificial contraception.

Dr. Suzanne Nortier Hollman of the Institute for Psychological Sciences tackled the mental fall-out for women from casual ("hook-up") sex..

As Gress reports, Hollman noted that women were much more damaged by it than men and that only 26 percent of females in one survey reported a positive emotional response to a hook up.

"Why do the other 74 percent take part? Many women report that they feel pressured into sex. That’s even if they end up consenting. It’s not just eager male partners at fault; many young women succumb to peer pressure. They feel that ‘hook-ups’ are simply expected of them.”

Dr. Marguerite Duane of Georgetown spoke about how the Pill has been classified as a Class One carcinogen like tobacco and asbestos and yet we continue to ignore the very real health issues stemming from it.

Monique Chireau, an OB/GYN at Duke University Medical Center, spoke about the dramatic rise in STDs since the 1960’s when the main concern was syphilis and chlamydia. Now we’re facing a pandemic of more than 25 types of common STD’s which are causing a rise in cancers, particularly those associated with the colon, mouth, and throat.

According to Chireau, more than 10 million women take it, which puts the industry at $4 billion a year – and yet we still see two million unintended pregnancies a year. Unfortunately, those who expect perfect control over their fertility are often the ones who turn to abortion as a backup.

Dr. Monique Chireau

“Planned Parenthood’s number one product is abortion,” Chireau said. “Their second product is contraception. Do you really think they would provide contraception if it was hurting their bottom line?”

Both Chireau and Duane believe oral contraception has caused feminism to become distorted. For example, instead of demanding that the workplace accommodate their biological realities, they resort to dangerous “medicine” to “beat biology into place,” Gress reports.

As Dr. Duane pointed out, the Pill has “stunted medicine” because it became a panacea for every gynecological ailment. “Instead of treating the root problem, a woman’s cycle is just disrupted,” she explained. “Women deserve better medicine than that.”

Another panel of experts discussed the commodification of women’s and children’s bodies.

Jennifer Lahl of The Center for Bioethics and Culture addressed surrogate motherhood and how it abuses women and treats children like commodities. Beneath the happy rhetoric of “helping would-be-parents,” women suffer a host of complications from the procedures involved.

“Egg donors suffer strokes and sterility. Surrogate mothers deal with manifold issues, since the womb was not designed to carry someone else’s child,” Gress reports.

Lahl also spoke about the tragic plight of nearly one million tiny humans who are languishing in the freezers in the U.S. alone – a place from which most will never be rescued.

Mary Leary of Catholic University’s law school, spoke about worldwide human trafficking which involves an estimated 27 million people, mostly women and children. This practice is spreading across the U.S. where traffickers are earning $200 million just in Atlanta.

“Their victims work as slave laborers in industries from domestic service to sweatshops to pornography,” Gress reports.

Dr. Mary Anne Layden

Mary Anne Layden of the University of Pennsylvania also addressed the epidemic of pornography and how users begin to think that aggressive, unwanted sexual advances are actually mutual and even invited – which could be how the #MeToo phenomenon got started.

Helen Alvare, George Mason Law Professor, wrapped up the day by explaining how the family has been under legal attack ever since the sexual revolution. Beginning with Roe v. Wade, which stripped the unborn of the right to life, the government is now promoting contraception even while protections for families and parental rights are slowly eroding.

“It really did take some decades to have this many qualified women” who lived through the sexual revolution, Alvare said. “We could not have had such a conference 30 years ago.”

As the Catholic News Service reports, Alvare expressed her hope that the conversation that began at this conference will begin “an honest dialogue based on well-sourced facts had by honest women.”

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