Second wave feminists fought for the sexual liberation of women. What they meant by this was that sex should no longer be directed toward romantic love or toward family, which were thought to be ploys of the patriarchy to oppress women. Instead, women were to throw off sexual restraints and engage in casual sex on their own terms, just as it was supposed men did.
There were to be no limits on sex, with the one exception that sex was to be consensual (so that the autonomy of either party would not be breached).
Feminists succeeded in changing the culture (with the assistance of men like Hugh Hefner). But how has it all worked out?
Consider the Julian Assange case. In one sense, he is among the winners of the sexual revolution. For most men, it has become more difficult to form a stable relationship with a woman of their own level. That's because women are now more likely to pursue their hypergamous instincts and to use their sexual power to try to attract a small number of "alpha" males (or else to select more crudely on the basis of sexual markers such as risk-taking behaviour or thuggish appearance etc).
But Julian Assange was one of the favoured few who was actively pursued by many women. He went to Sweden and had sex with two women there. The women did, initially at least, give their consent. But now he has been charged with rape.
What went wrong? The details of the charges aren't exactly clear yet. But I'd suggest that underlying it all, several factors are at play.
First, in the new conditions, men like Julian Assange don't have to treat women that well. He has a steady stream of willing female sex partners, whom he can treat as brusquely as he likes. So women like Anna Ardin or Sofia Wilen might well feel, after the act, as if they've been used or have somehow been put at a disadvantage or have experienced a lack power in the exchange.
Second, it's likely that numbers of women don't really respond that well to casual sex and have regrets later. The two Swedish women seem to have worried that they might have left themselves vulnerable to STIs and felt physically violated in this sense.
Third, Anna Ardin is a feminist who believes in patriarchy theory. She believes that men use sex to maintain social dominance over women. She is primed, therefore, to think of sex as an act of exploitation or oppression.
It's a toxic combination. Let's say you're a 31-year-old Anna Ardin. You've been brought up to believe that you should engage freely in sex. You've directed your efforts to winning over a leftist alpha male. Along comes a real leftist alpha, Julian Assange. You have sex with him. But he is not a considerate lover and you find out he's having sex with another younger woman at the same time. You're now 31 and starting to worry about your age. It's not working out. You feel used and violated. Your feminism tells you that men as a class use sex to oppress and control women. What recourse do you have?
It's difficult in the new conditions to appeal to moral or cultural standards. After all, the idea of the sexual revolution was that men and women were to be treated exactly the same and that both would be liberated by engaging freely in casual sex.
Nor can women like Anna Ardin exercise the kind of influence over men that wives or girlfriends traditionally could. When a woman is in a relationship with a man, she has power to influence his behaviour. But when she is simply another notch in the belt of an alpha male she has no power over him at all.
So it's not surprising that feminist women like Anna Ardin look increasingly to a more formal, legal control over men, including using a range of "date rape" laws to try to control male behaviour.
It's difficult to see this working out, though. It's an unwieldy tool to use to control personal relationships. And it doesn't solve the underlying problems: it won't cure the disappointments of women like Anna Ardin who are unlikely ever to win the romantic commitment of alpha leftist males, nor will it undo the contradiction within feminist politics in which it is believed, on the one hand, that sex should be "liberated" from the restraints of romance or family commitments, whilst on the other hand believing that sex is an oppressive instrument of male control over women.