Yesterday, I interviewed Donna Freitas, author of "The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy."
In our dialogue, we agreed that her book subtitle was accurate, but we disagreed as to the cause. Freitas, who holds a Ph.D. in religious studies, blamed it on peer pressure, the sex-drenched social media of young people and the ubiquity of pornography. I blamed three other culprits: feminism, careerism and secularism.
I was in college and graduate school during the heyday of modern feminism. And the central message to women was clear as daylight: You are no different from men. Therefore, among other things, you can enjoy sex just like they do -- just for the fun of it and with many partners. The notion that nearly every woman yearns for something deeper when she has sexual intercourse with a man was dismissed as patriarchal propaganda. The culture might tell her to restrict sex to a man who loves her and might even marry her, but the liberated woman knows better: Sex without any emotional ties or possibility of future commitment can be "empowering."
Feminism taught -- and professors on the New York Times op-ed page continue to write -- that there are no significant natural differences between men and women. Therefore, it is not unique to male nature to want to have sex with many partners. Rather, a "Playboy culture" "pressures" men into having frequent, uncommitted sex. And, to the extent this is a part of male nature, it is equally true of women's natures.
Another feminist message to women was that just as a woman can have sex like a man, she can also find career as fulfilling as men do. Therefore, pursuing an "M-R-S" at college is just another residue of patriarchy. Women should be as interested in a career as men are. Any hint of the notion that women want, more than anything else, to marry and make a family is sexist, demeaning, and untrue.
One result is that instead of trying to find a potential husband, young women are under feminist pressure to show that they couldn't care less about forming an exclusive, let alone permanent, relationship with a man. And this provides another reason for her to engage in non-emotional, commitment-free sex.