Unintended Consequences

When does an unintended consequence turn into a decision? How about when enough time has passed for one to recognize that even if the consequence was undesired, it is to be expected? I was thinking of this question when I read a plaintive article. The female author was decrying the “unexpected consequences of feminism and the sexual revolution.” While her opening words insisted that she would never want to go back to the way things were before “feminism’s hard-won victories,” she acknowledges that all is not well and gives examples ranging from increased pornography to a decrease in rates of marriage and births.

For those who shrug their shoulders and see no problem with any sexual choices or with a birth-rate that is below replacement level, I would like to connect some dots. The UK organization, Aging Well Without Children, estimates that by 2030 about 2 million adults over the age of 65 in the UK will not have children to help them. Other first-world countries face similar problems. However, despite the organization’s hopes that the British government will fill in the gaps, governments cannot solve loneliness and mandate loving care. The government of Scotland has just budgeted £10M to “tackle social isolation and loneliness.” Individual families do that in ways that no bureaucracy can mimic. There is also a direct line between being alone and an increase in needing medical care. Governments will waste shiploads of money trying to address these issues.

The writer whose words I quoted above has had an exciting career. While her heartstrings might be plucked by the idea of an aborted baby, her emotional tug is more toward the woman who might not achieve professional success if she gave birth at a time not of her choosing (while choosing to be sexually active). The author counts homosexual marriage as one of the great advances of a virtuous world. And yet…

And yet she is appalled at the transgender assault on teens, at the intolerance and lack of free speech in society, and at the increased sordidness of the world in which she lives. I’m pretty sure that she doesn’t connect the dots the same way I do. I simply don’t believe that the transgender movement would have legs had the homosexual movement not paved the way. I see a conflict between telling women that their fulfillment will come through a career and that is what they should focus on when they are in their twenties and thirties, and expecting that these same women will get married and have families at rates that benefit society (and most of them).

I see a connection between many more of today’s ills and the sexual revolution, some easier to explain than others. I certainly think that bewailing the, “unexpected consequences of feminism and the sexual revolution,” while applauding those two movements, demands deep introspection and thought. It is just possible that we can’t change one without reversing many “hard-won victories” of the other.


What do you think? We’d love to hear your thoughts on this Susan’s Musings post.
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