The lesson to be learnt from recent decades is that when promiscuity is accepted, the young women of a society experience a situation of "abundance" - no shortage of offers - and that large numbers will then spend their 20s trying to hook up with the "hottest" men available to them. But this damages the ability of these women to pair bond with just one man. Karley Sciortino calls this being jaded:
Now, being jaded doesn’t simply mean that you’re “over it.” It’s more that you’ve become sick and tired after overindulging in something. And I’m pretty sure that my current state is the result of binge-eating on sex and relationships for the past 15 years. Some of the telltale signs include: Being around cheery, optimistic people makes me nauseous...I often swipe through Tinder in front of my friends, sighing unnecessarily loudly and saying things like, “See, this is what I have to choose from!”...When I see engagement notifications on Facebook, I think, She must have settled. (Or, if I’m in a particularly bad mood: She just ruined her life.)
It’s gotten to the point where I’ve pretty much convinced myself that my options are either to be single forever or eventually be like, “Eh, you’ll do.”...But even if you know you’re jaded, that doesn’t mean you have the power to control it.
Young adults have an instinct to save themselves for the person they will ultimately commit to, but they also have an instinct to want to experience sexual pleasure and variety. The question then becomes: what is the highest good? Is it a lifelong, loving marriage in which two people successfully bond together? Or is it the pleasure of sexual variety?
What Karley is reminding us is that sexual variety loses its lustre over time and that it undermines the opportunity to experience love with a person of the opposite sex. Traditional societies chose the higher path.
Which brings me to the remarkable Daily Mail column by sixties feminist Jeannette Kupferman. She was one of those young women who initially embraced the feminist sexual revolution but who now wonders about its effect on relationships between the sexes:
It makes me wonder what happened to the Brave New World we’d envisaged for our daughters and granddaughters. A world of unlimited possibilities, choices and equality for girls to become or do anything?
A world I — like many women — fought for in the Sixties.
Has feminism made life worse, not better, for today’s generation of girls?
Certainly, women have never existed in such a bleak emotional landscape.
Note the orthodox liberalism here. She wanted unlimited choices for girls to become or do anything. But she didn't think through what this would logically lead to. If the important thing is not the quality of what you choose, but the fact that you can choose to do or to be anything, then the older moral rules will be thought to limit the individual and his choices. Those who transgress these rules will then be admired as cutting edge and liberated.
She now thinks it has all gone too far. She reminisces about what life was like before the sexual revolution, finding many positives. She writes,
I feel so sad for young girls who will never receive a beautiful love letter or go on a romantic date with no strings attached.
And she wishes the following for her recently born granddaughter:
...I want her to feel euphoria because of the rare richness and uniqueness of life, and because of pride in her own innate womanhood — not be sozzled with booze or worse, ending up destroying body and soul in some demeaning, meaningless sexual encounter.
And yet it was she, and her liberal values, which pushed society along this path. It has been pointed out many times that there is no stop button built into the liberal ideal. You can't push liberalism so far and then say "this is good, but we shouldn't take it any further". It is going to keep logically unravelling, to ever more radical and socially dissolving outcomes.