Custom CSS of Section contains Conditional Preview for See Life Campaign Elements

The Pill: Did It Cause The Sexual Revolution?

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Photo by Anastasiia Ostapovych on Unsplash
Does a woman really become strong and liberated by submitting herself to the rules of the male sexual market?

No student of the family can ignore this remarkable milestone: Mother’s Day marked the 50th anniversary of the FDA’s approval of a tiny tablet that dramatically changed the face of the family and culture.

This little pill – the first medicine ever designed to be taken by the healthy – chemically altered a woman’s hormonal cycle, preventing ovulation and thus, pregnancy.

What made this new development so remarkable was that it was, for the first time, contraception…

  • Wholly controlled by the woman
  • Remarkably easy to use and inexpensive
  • A genuine and therefore “respectable” medical product
  • Taken separate from the sexual act
  • Was relatively safe and highly effective
  • Paralleled already changing attitudes about sexuality and the roles of women

G.D. Searle applied for approval of their new product (Enovid) in 1959 and soon announced the Pill in this advertisement in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The image in this first advertisement was prescient; depicting the mythological Andromeda breaking free from her shackles, for this is what the new pill was to accomplish. Ironically, the name Andromeda literally communicates “to be considerate or mindful of the man.” This is a profoundly important point as we consider the long-term impact of the pill upon women, the family and culture.

What the Pill Did and Didn’t Do…

Didn’t Start the Sexual Revolution

There are compelling reasons why the Pill did not start the sexual revolution. First, there is no single event – not the Pill, the advent of pornography, taking prayer out of schools, etc. – that started the sexual revolution. In fact, historians refer to the American Sixties as the “the second sexual revolution” because there was quite a robust sexual revolution that took place in the 1910-20s, personified in the iconic Flapper as well as bold epidemics of sexually transmitted diseases and pornography.See Glenn T. Stanton, Why Marriage Matters, (Pinion Press, 1997), pp. 34-39.

A strong case can be made that cultural affluence, materialism and increasing secularism over both the 1910-20s and 1960s-to-present fueled the loosening of our sexual values. Consider also that the Pill has been available in most parts of the world for decades and some (i.e. Saudi Arabia, India) have not experienced sexual revolutions like ours. This revolution in sexuality was the result of many important factors converging, of which the emergence of the Pill was certainly key.

Did Contribute to the Second Sexual Revolution

Even though the Pill was not available to unmarried women until the late 1960s and early 70s – many clinics required young single women to provide a note from their minister attesting to an impending wedding date – there are few who would contend it didn’t play a significant role in fueling these changes. (More on this in the “Iron Curtain” section below)

Only Fine-Tuned Control of Family Size

The Pill did allow women to control the number and spacing of their children, but women knew how to do this for quite some time. In 1800, the average American woman had eight or more children. By 1850, the average was 7 births per woman, shrinking to 3.5 by 1900.Susan E. Klepp, Revolutionary Conceptions: Woman, Fertility and Family Limitation in America, 1760-1820, (U. of N.C. Press, 2009). While the Pill did allow women greater control of their fertility, it is just not true that wives were mere “baby-making machines”  held captive to run-away fertility prior to the Pill. Women being smart, long knew how their fertility worked and how to manage it.

Became a Virtual Iron Curtain Between Sex and Babies

Even though women long knew how to limit their fertility, the Pill made (along with corresponding legal and cultural developments) the separation between sexuality and the possibility of babies nearly an inalienable right. The fact that a woman could be sexually active and virtually guaranteed (by medical science no less!) of not becoming pregnant had the effect of making her feel cheated when an unexpected pregnancy did happen. Writing recently on the impact of the Pill, Al Mohler says the “severing of this relationship [between sex and childbearing] represents a quantum change in human life and relationships, not to mention morality.”Albert Mohler, “The Pill Turns 50 – TIME Considers the Contraceptive Revolution,” April 26, 2010. albertmohler.com.

Increases Abortion

This “iron curtain” between sex and the possibility of babies had the unintended consequence of dramatically boosting the rate of abortion, which spiked dramatically around 1968-70, well before 1973’s Roe v Wade. This was because of the growing sense of having a “right not to be pregnant” if a sexually active woman didn’t want to be. She could also face pressure toward abortion from her partner who didn’t want his sexual partner hampered by pregnancy. The Pill was expected to actually reduce abortion by reducing unwanted pregnancies.

Killed Shot-gun Weddings

Nobel prize-winning economist George Akerlof explained in a celebrated essay how increases in the use of the Pill and abortion contributed to the near extinction of the “shot-gun wedding” which were never about forcing people to get married. They were about “doing right by the woman,” an action of respect and honor toward her and her family. They formed a great many good, healthy, happy families. However, the Pill effectively let men off the hook, forcing the woman to alone deal with that which was never supposed to happen and was now her primary responsibility to prevent.George A. Akerlof, “An Analysis of Out-of-Wedlock Childbearing in the United States,” The Quarterly Journal of Economics, 151 (1996): 277-317.

Decreased Age of Sexual Debut / Increase in Delay of Marriage

Studies show the Pill contributed to a strong more delay in marriage as well as a lowering in the age of sexual debut. This is because the security that marriage provided – both in the terms of moral reputation (due to shifting cultural mores) and accidental pregnancy – no longer seemed as necessary. Claudia Goldin and Lawrence F. Katz, “The Power of the Pill: Oral Contraceptives and Women’s Career and Marriage Decisions,” Journal of Political Economy, 110 (2002): 730-770.

Burdens Women

Generally, the Pill is seen as a benefit to women, allowing them to better time their fertility to correspond with attaining a college education and early career establishment uninterrupted by surprise pregnancy. And this also made it more likely for employers to invest time and training in young women for higher level careers. Women have gained from this.

But it has hurt women deeply as well. Professor Bruce Wydick, an economist at the University of San Francisco, specializing in family relationships, explains that because of the different ways men and women are wired and

therefore value sexuality, “a world where social norms dictate that sex and commitment go together is a world that upholds the happiness and dignity of women.”

And as such, Wydick contends, “the revolution that brought sexual freedom allowed women to unwittingly undercut each other in the competition for men, providing men greater access to more sex for lower and lower levels of commitment, to the obvious benefit of the men.” Women thus became weaker players in the sexual market place and men became stronger.

He concludes, “Women’s sexual freedom became the greatest thing that ever happened to men who wanted as much sex as possible with as little commitment as possible, and hence made women much worse off.” Thus, he calls the embrace of this freedom by the woman’s movement “a mistake of incalculable magnitude” for woman. Personal correspondence between the author and Bruce Wydick, May 10, 2010.

Wydick is not alone in this conclusion. A 2009 study conducted by the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania finds that “women’s happiness has fallen both absolutely and relative to men’s…through much of the industrialized world” over the past 35 years, even as women’s social gains have increased.

Of course, the why? for this cannot be known conclusively, but the authors do conclude their study with this summary:

Finally, the changes brought through the women’s movement may have decreased women’s happiness…[as] men [possibly] garner a disproportionate share of the benefits of the women’s movement.Betsy Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, August 2009: 190-224. See pages 194 and 223 for last quotes.

Conclusion

The arrival of the Pill was supposed to have Andromeda unleashed from her chains, as its proponents told she would be. But maybe the proper analogy is not woman becoming unfettered from the chains of her biology, but rather her trading the God-given power of her femininity for the lie of thinking she will find happiness if she approaches sexuality more like a man.

Young women today should re-consider if such a trade was really in their best interest as women and take bold action relative to that conclusion.

After all, does a woman really become strong and liberated by submitting herself to the rules of the male sexual market?

The experience of the last 40 years or so can give women guidance for the future.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.
Emerson-Eggerich4-840w

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.

Reconnected: The Digital Experience

Is the love there, but not the spark? Reawaken fun in your marriage and move from roommates to soulmates again with the help of this 7-part online video experience. Learn how to connect emotionally and spiritually as husband and wife using techniques such as dreaming together and establishing deep, heartfelt communication. The Digital Experience includes 7 teaching videos, an online study guide and access to additional tools and resources to help spouses reconnect.

Next Steps: Marriage Assessment

We want your marriage to be thriving and healthy. Take the free Marriage Assessment from Focus on the Family to learn how to strengthen your bond with your spouse and get the tools to help you need to grow closer together. 

Next Steps: Fruit of the Spirit Devotionals for Couples

The Fruit of the Spirit Devotional is a free series of nine short videos to get you into God’s Word and inspire you to seek the Holy Spirit’s help in loving your spouse.

Share:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author

Read More About:

You May Also Like

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 5: It’s Going to be Amazing!

After a couple has chosen life, hear the heartwarming stories of children that culture would have cast aside, yet are making tremendous impacts in their communities. Whether the diagnosis was adverse or the circumstances were difficult, these stories will inspire you to come along side of families who have chosen life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 4: Sometimes the Choice is Hard

Hear real life stories of parents who have made the decision to choose life even though the circumstances were overwhelming. You’ll see why “ALL” life is precious to God and why choosing life is always the right decision!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 6: Families Helping Families!

So, after all you’ve seen through the SeeLife ‘21 Episodic journey; what can you do now? We’ll share how you can partner with some amazing organizations that are making significant impacts in the pro-life movement! You want to Celebrate Life!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 3: The Power of a Picture

Have you ever wondered what a baby looked like in the womb? With today’s technology, Moms and Dads can see the baby’s heartbeat, facial expressions, and movements! You’ll find out why more women choose life once they hear their baby’s heartbeat and realize it’s a real living human!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 2: Heroes Providing Hope

Discover the amazing work our PRC’s Directors, Nurses, and Volunteers are making in their communities! You’ll see firsthand testimonies of a PRC in action, and that there are other options outside of abortions! You’ll also discover how your family can support your local PRC!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!

Play Video

Newest Release - Episode 1: The Truth About Life!

In this episode, we will tackle tough questions like, “When does life begin?” and “What does the Bible
say about Life?” You’ll discover and understand the stages of pre-born life and that babies are more than
just a clump of cells!

Yes, I Promise to Pray for the Pre-born and Their Moms!

Will you pray for the pre-born and moms that are facing unexpected pregnancies? We will send you a 7-day prayer guide that will help guide you along this journey with us!! You can even choose to receive this great resource by text!