We know the ideal of sexual purity and a clarion call for abstinence are seen by Hollywood as quaint. In some Tinseltown circles it's even dangerous. Miramax recently released another in a series of Catholic-bashing movies, "The Magdalene Sisters," which takes the regrettable story of Ireland's Magdalene laundries, where young women who were sexually active, pregnant or even just too flirty were consigned to hard labor. Predictably, the movie turns it all into a broad-brushed propagandistic vision of a church pulsing with pure evil.
That is hardly the cultural predicament for young American women today. They not only are encouraged to be sexual by their male contemporaries, they are also heartily encouraged by women and women's media to rid themselves of purity.
The Chicago Tribune reported that the trendiness of HBO's "Sex in the City," as personified by Sarah Jessica Parker's cool booty-call chronicler, has resulted in a new sensation: "Sex columnists are as routine at college campuses as midterms." For example, the Tribune told the story of Julia Baugher, who writes a sex-advice column for the Hoya, the student newspaper at Jesuit-run Georgetown University. Her advice to the college audience: Get some sex.
Julia encourages incoming freshmen females to dump their distant boyfriends for some sex play away from the constraints of home: "If you left a high-school honey to come to college, don't spend your time hanging on to what's back home. You'll miss out on the fun of your new place, only to break up by February anyway." She suggests that if girls don't have a relationship, they ought not "go nuts," since "you don't want a bad reputation stalking you for the next four years." In other words, the only limits on a lady's "liberation" is her vulnerability to gossip. Even in Catholic corners of the culture, the notion of God sometimes seems to have disappeared.
In the September issue of Glamour magazine (circulation: almost 3 million, many of them teenage girls), actress Holly Robinson Peete gives this advice to the single girl: "You are in a blissful stage. Really enjoy yourself right now because it does change. I want you to have a lot of sex and get a lot of sleep."
But that's not the worst of it. This edition of Glamour also contains advice if that sex goes wrong and she accidentally becomes pregnant. It is, incredibly, this: You can not only get an abortion, but you can feel good about yourself while you do it. A group of abortion clinic operators calling themselves the "November Gang" is encouraging their customers to write little valentines on pink paper hearts to the babies they've killed.