The New Enemies of Eros


If you haven’t read Kate Bolick’s Atlantic magazine cover story attempting to celebrate her liberation from marriage and motherhood as ideals, it’s worth reading, especially between the lines.

My response on the Public Discourse is here (excerpt below):

Her essay reads like a dreary slog through the gap between myth and reality of the sexual revolution. Kate goes back to speak to younger women today, and is appalled by what she finds among 20-somethings:

Most of them said that though they’d had a lot of sex, none of it was particularly sensual or exciting. It appears the erotic promises of the 1960s sexual revolution have run aground on the shoals of changing sex ratios, where young women and men come together in fumbling, drunken couplings fueled less by lust than by a vague sense of social conformity.

What caused the “de-eroticization of sex,” she wonders.

Who exactly are the new enemies of Eros?

Sex has been divorced from meaning. Men are not being raised to be good family men, and women are not being raised to appreciate good family men. And men are failing to become the kind of men women want. Porn is available for all as a substitute for life. . . . .

The truth is celebrating singleness — i.e., celebrating “not doing something” — makes no sense. Loving is better than not loving. Choosing to love and commit to a husband or a child is a much higher ideal than choosing not to; that’s why it needs to be celebrated and idealized.

Of course, not everyone marries or becomes a mother, and of course every human life has other possibilities for meaning, and other forms of love to give.

But all of these other loves — the aunt, the grandparent, the best friend — came into being because somewhere some woman gave herself to the independence-shattering act of making a family.