Thursday, October 27, 2005

Continuing Thoughts On Modern Culture and Gender Issues

In my previous post on the topic, I note that one point of agreement with Dan Edelen 's post on gender issues was his assessment of the increase promiscuity in modern American society.  Meghan O'Rourke has some insightful observations - albeit from a decidly non-evangelical perspective - the topic in her article at Slate.
In the article, she refers to Harvard professor Harvey Mansfield comments regarding the modern effects of the sexual revolution.  He claims that "it had merely "lower[ed]" us to the crass level of men, who pursue sex thoughtlessly and without hopes of marriage." WHe further writes and O'Rourke concludes:
"[Today's] women play the men's game, which they are bound to lose. Without modesty, there is no romance—it isn't so attractive or so erotic," said the professor. The solution to the problem, clearly, was for women to start saying no a little more often.
Which sounds very much like Dan's argument about the "girls-gone-wild" culture in his post and his lament regarding delayed marriage. 
Later in the article O'Rourke makes reference to Ariel Levy's Female Chauvinist Pigs and notes Levy as saying, "we do live in a culture that celebrates—in its magazines, TV, and movies—an unbridled sexuality that hasn't served women well. And she claims that the proliferation of pornography has posed some intractable problems. But her proposed solutions don't presume that experience follows a tidy script of wanting to get a ring on our finger right away. She takes into account lesbians (who mostly can't get married) and women who aren't looking for long-term commitment. Her willingness to rethink ingrained liberal assumptions—and to make women attentive to the consequences of promiscuous Girls Gone Wild-style behavior—is appealingly unpredictable "
My point here would be that I agree, as I said in my post and my comments to his post, with the assessment of the current condition.  I just don't agree that reversing the advancements of the equality of women in terms of education, job opportunity, protection under the law, etc. and a focus on younger marrying age is the correct answer.
Along those lines, O' Rourke also notes, "[t]he National Marriage Project reports that getting married after the age of 25 reduces the chance of divorce" which at least lends some counterpoint to the concerns about delayed marriage.  Note that the same study also concludes, " only 36% of single men agree that 'single men have better sex lives than married men.' And only 22 percent of unmarried men report feeling that marriage is "personally" not for them, even if they're not interested in marriage in their immediate future. "  Thus, while we may rightfully lament the increased promiscuity of our culture, it doesn't seem to be having nearly the devastating effect on society's view of marrage that some may have thought.
This isn't to say that marriage in modern society doesn't need help - it does.  Nor is it to say that the church is doing an adequate job of helping believers be prepared to make moral stands in the area of sexual behavior, because all the data suggests there is little difference in behavior in this area between the evangelical and the unchurched.
It is only to suggest that the answers are complex and elusive and will probably find final form in some mixture of lessons lost from the past and new interpretations of modern understanding.

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