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.
Glamour finds it "poignant" that one woman wrote to her victim: "To my little angel, Please understand that you are better off in the hands of God than mine at this moment." (This is hard to debate.) "I smile when I think of you, even if I cry. You have given me reason to be strong and wise and responsible. You will always be my baby. I will see you in heaven, sweetheart. Love you! Love always and unconditionally, your mommy."
The hearts are posted in one Pittsburgh clinic, "rows and rows of them taped to the walls." Some are more fist-pumping feminist notes, such as: "Women: this is your life and your body. What you think is right ... Is! ... And if you think this is a 'sin,' remember, God forgives!" Glamour reported that counselors push this notion hard to the more religious girls. When one girl says she goes to church every Sunday, the counselor asks, "Do you think there are any things God considers completely unforgivable?" The clinics also invite more religious girls to "pray over their fetuses, even to sprinkle them with holy water in impromptu baptismal rites."
Even abortionists are conceding the "fetus" is a child of God; it's just a child of God they have the right to kill. Women can be forgiven for abortions, but that requires real regret and repentance, not paper valentines and happy talk. Abortion advocates also disdain this approach. The Glamour article mentioned that "mainstream abortion rights proponents don't think such candor is helpful." Kate Michelman of NARAL protests that it's not her job to "wear every woman's feelings publicly."
In today's culture we condemn women's magazines for encouraging girls to obsess about their appearance, their weight and the happiness that comes only from cosmetic products like "deep thermal refinisher." I'm waiting for the rebuke of these magazines for encouraging girls to indulge in sex without consequences, and when the consequences arrive, encouraging them to butcher them, then air-kiss them with a ridiculous love note.