The Atlantic: The Fight To Decouple Sex From Marriage

Years ago, I read and reviewed a couple of books on the history of marriage during an argument with incels. The books confirmed what I already knew which is that there has been more change in the West in the norms around sexuality and core institutions like marriage and the family which used to restrain and channel sexual desire toward constructive ends in the last 60 years than in the previous 2,000 years. As Christianity faded and lost its grip on the American elite (the trend had been accelerating since the end of the Victorian era), sexuality was decoupled from marriage, religion and reproduction.

The Atlantic:

“In 1991, as the supreme court hearings of Clarence Thomas were turning sexual-harassment allegations into television, Helen Gurley Brown, the editor and muse of Cosmopolitan magazine, was asked whether any of her staffers had been harassed. “I certainly hope so!” she replied.

The sentiment would not have come as a surprise to readers of the book that had, roughly three decades earlier, shot Brown to fame and infamy. Sex and the Single Girl, first published in 1962, is part memoir and part advice manual, offering tips about careers, fashion, beauty, diet, hobbies, self-care, travel, home decorating, and, yes, dating. The book—like its author, both ahead of its time and deeply of it—often reads as resolutely backward. But it is best remembered, today, for one of the arguments it put forward: Sex, as Brown summed it up in her introduction to the book’s 2003 reissue, “is enjoyed by single women who participate not to please a man as may have been the case in olden times but to please themselves.”

Sixty years ago, that was a radical proposition. That it remains an argument at all helps explain why Brown’s book, progress and backlash in one tidy text, continues to resonate. The Supreme Court, very soon, will likely strike down Roe v. Wadea final, fatal slash following the thousand cuts made by state legislatures across the country. Some lawmakers, delivering on their desire to make America 1950 again, are weighing measures to criminalize contraception itself. These grim developments threaten to return sex to what it was for so long, for so many: a pleasure that becomes, all too easily, a punishment. They also bring gravity to a new anthology that reconsiders Brown’s complicated classic. Sex and the Single Woman, out this week, features 24 essays that take on, among many other timely topics, consent and polyamory and interracial dating and in vitro fertilization and sex as an activity and sex as an identity. The pieces are testaments to the hard-won freedoms of the sexual revolution that Brown both stirred and stymied. But they also read as elegies. They suggest all that is lost when sex is ceded to the state. They warn of what can happen when “the personal is political,” that elemental insight, is remade into a threat. …

Brown’s book debuted a year before Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique came along to argue that housewives, far from living the American dream, were living lives of tidy desperation. Both books took aim at marriage. Both spoke to a moment in which women’s options were so stridently assumed—the wedding, the kids, the making of homes, the keeping of them—that, for many, they ceased to be options at all. Before “family values” was partisan ideology, it was simply an inevitability. It implicated everyone. Sex might have had its pleasures, the logic went, but more important, it had its purpose—and that purpose was to make babies, and thereby make families, and thereby make a nation. Sex was social infrastructure. It ordered people, in every sense of the word. It was everyone’s business, even when it wasn’t.

Sex and the Single Girl rebels against all of that. In a culture that conflated sex and motherhood—each scripted as a gift given to others—Brown claimed to celebrate women’s sexuality on its own terms. That claim itself puts her book in loose conversation with feminist works of the era, among them Shulamith Firestone’s The Dialectic of Sex, Audre Lorde’s Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power, and Anne Koedt’s The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm—the 1970 essay that introduced many people to the functions of the clitoris. Brown’s manual mocks one of the foundational myths of a patriarchal order: that women are sex’s passive recipients. It refuses to entertain mythologies that take men’s sexuality for granted and take women’s sexuality away. Brown’s insistence that sex is enjoyed by single women “to please themselves”—this was one battle in a wide-ranging war. …”

Modernism, of course, with its signature obsession with the inner world of the Self and all of its base and evil desires, which is romanticized, is the sensibility that lurks underneath the surface of these debates. The thing that changed is that the Self was put up on a pedestal in our culture. God was knocked of the pedestal and replaced by the Self in the Sexual Revolution. We take for granted today that there can be no limits on self-exploration, self-expression, self absorption, self care, etc. Nothing is owed to anyone else including our own biological offspring because we really owe everything to ourselves. This is why Margaret Atwood sees pregnancy and motherhood, not as a natural biological process of human reproduction, but as slavery to an unwanted child in service to the state.


  1. The cultural changes followed the economic and technical changes, especially the mass electronic media. Obviously when a population urbanizes it is going to have more cosmopolitan values.

    It is not that some nefarious Yankee Liberal in New York just invented “sexual liberation” one day and tricked everyone into it.

    A lot of what people call “Christian sexual values” have nothing at all to do with Christianity, but are instead white middle class social standards. And there is nothing wrong with that – a lot right with that, because women who don’t have white middle class respectability are treated horribly in American society.

    • We spent a long time tracing the genealogy of this garbage back to bohemian enclaves in 19th century France. Small groups of artists and social deviants used to live this way. It was well established in Europe before it arrived here around 1910. New technologies like film and television popularized these values. The 1960s and 1970s was when the cultural shift hit a critical mass due to television and higher education, but elites adopting these sick values goes much further back.

      • “Helen Gurley Brown, the editor and muse of Cosmopolitan magazine”

        Helen Gurley Brown and her (((husband))).

        Cosmo has been a major root of toxic feminism.

    • “The cultural changes followed the economic and technical changes”
      They followed legislative changes. Nothing about technology implies the cultural changes we have seen in the West. Proof of this is the existence of numerous countries that have similar levels of technology but did not undergo such changes (many Muslim countries like Saudi Arabia for example). And economic changes are largely a result of government policy. The cultural changes were all consciously implemented by American oligarchs.

      “Obviously when a population urbanizes it is going to have more cosmopolitan values.”
      This isn’t a given. It’s a result of government policy.

      “A lot of what people call “Christian sexual values” have nothing at all to do with Christianity, but are instead white middle class social standards”

  2. Marriage has already been dead for decades. What we call marriage today is more like a best friends celebration or agreement to be roommates for an indeterminate period of time. Nobody in the past would recognize it as marriage in any way.

    • We’re living through an experiment. I doubt the experiment is sustainable in the long term.

      • The problem is that the experiment is going to kill off the white race, because whites are not having enough reproductive sex.

        Children are basically a trophy possession of those who can afford it, like a BMW in the garage. Gay white couples with dual incomes of $200,000 each in Manhattan have children.

        Whites who do have children have one or two. The days of working-class Irish families with seven or eight white kids are over. That is a problem — whites in the 19th century were able to conquer the globe in part because they had much higher fertility than today. British India had 300,000 brown people in 1900, while Britain had 44 million whites, roughly a 7:1 ratio. Today India and Pakistan combined have 1.5 billion nonwhites, while Britain has 67 million people (fifteen per cent of whom are nonwhite) for a ratio of about 26 million to one.

        In other words the British white population has barely budged in 122 years, whereas the Subcontinental population has increased fivefold.

        You can extrapolate these figures worldwide. Birthrates are below replacement level in nearly all white countries, while birthrates have exploded far beyond replacement in brown countries.

        Whoever said that “feminism is the suicide of the West” sure got it right.

        • The experiment will come to an end before that happens. The demise of Roe us an indicator of instability ahead

    • Dodge Dart: Marriage was originally a business or legal partnership. It was also done for the sake of attaining social respectability by marrying into the right family. Many marriages were also arranged. Eventually the husbands and wives of such marriages learned to live with each other. But then all those Victorian and bourgeois notions of marriage being something based on “love” took over and made a mockery of that institution.

      • Yes. It’s almost always a joke now.

        A few years ago, I went to a wedding for an old friend from high school. I hadn’t really seen him for years, but it turned out that since the end of high school he had become a libtard. He was marrying a fellow libtard and she wrote her own wedding vow, which was just a long feminist speech with gems like “I am my own woman” and “you don’t own me.” It was seriously just 2-3 minutes of feminist boilerplate that came across as borderline antagonistic towards her future husband.

        I was trying to keep from cracking up laughing because of how stupid the whole situation was. Two atheist libtards having a wedding, which is absurd enough on its own, then making “vows” that amounted to declarations that neither would actually commit anything to the other person.

  3. If “modernism” is the sin of excessive selfishness, tradcuckery is the sin of pursuing the interest of an imagined community even when the other members of said community show no sign of reciprocating his allegedly altruistic acts. Hunter Wallace wants to restore the correct Trad values to all those thots and stoners out there. They do not appreciate his altruistic action. Nor will the children he “saves,” who will regard him, at best, as a bumbling man who’s living in the past, and at worst as evil.

    • We’ve had to swallow a lot of shit and live in a modernist dystopia for the last 60 to 70 years. If the pendulum swings back in our direction, well, I am sure the other side will suck it up and deal with it. I mean … there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t see things that offend my sensibilities. I have to tolerate that and so will the other side

      • Your sensibilities are going to be offended by a lot more out of wedlock births if you succeed in banning abortion.

        • Nah. That’s a trope from lefty criticisms of the Religious Right in the 80s and 90s. While I’ll admit that the social conservatives of that age got too uptight over premarital sex and out of wedlock births, its a dead horse now. No one cares anymore. Right Wing sensibilities aren’t offended by out of wedlock births like they used to be.

          I don’t see how a White single mom in a red state raising her kids with salt-of-the-earth values is any worse then two married shitlib parents in a blue state raising their kids with modernist values. And in any case, it should be normative for a mother to have her kids and raise them decently then have an abortion.

          The ideal scenario is two married parents with traditional values where the mother raises the kids from home and the father brings home the bread. But since that ideal has fallen apart since the 1960s, what I just described will have to do for now.

          Modernists such as yourself desperately want to cling to your failed values and causes. You want the Pro-White Movement to integrate them.

          Forget about it.

    • @Anon

      We are heading into a socioeconomic cataclysm in the West (all by design). Humans respond to incentives. The world that is coming will not incentivise you go girlism, quite the opposite.

      Everything runs in cycles, and, as the great American genius Frank Herbert wrote,

      Every cycle is a reaction to the preceding cycle.

      Female behaviour will change and women will remember what they have always known, in a harsh, dangerous world, women without provider/protectors dont do so well.

  4. What does your ideal society look like, Hunter? What percentage of people marry, and at what ages? Who uses contraception and when? What do you with people who tell you they don’t want to have children? What do you do with people who tell you they don’t want to have children and then prove to be terrible parents? Is premarital sex allowed and, if not, what are the punishments?

    • HW wants to see a return to the values of the antebellum South, although I’m not sure such values could be successfully introduced into today’s decadent, cosmopolitan society.

  5. Although there were radical changes in the last 60 years, it’s really not new, it’s happened before, for example in the ancient Roman Empire, where women could divorce men easily and have lots of lovers etc

    Romans 1900 years ago had just about all the stuff we have – women’s rights – alimony – sexual ‘freedom’ – finally collapse of civilisation (lots of migrants were brought in too) … it happened in some other societies as well

    1934 book by Oxford scholar J D Unwin, ‘Sex and Culture’, talks about this … it’s free online to read, pretty impressive

    Unwin argued that the fundamental mistake leading to all the rest, is feminism … every time it always ends the same, feminism leads to forms of modernism / progressivism and then end of marriage and finally societal collapse

    Unwin said unless most men can have a stable wife and family, they tend to get permanently un-nerved and become somewhat useless as they sexually struggle, and then civilisation retards and implodes

    Unless you have patriarchal stable monogamy imposed by culture, women do what they are doing now … they exercise their hypergamic tendencies and monkey-branch, the vast majority of divorces started by women … who, if let loose, focus on a narrow 20% of men, and despise the ‘beta’ males whom they sometimes ‘settle’ for

    And of course modern women themselves are miserable after age 20s of whoring around and then finding after they ‘hit the wall’ that the ‘ideal man’ they think they deserve is not there for them … so they become angry miserable feminists

    Single women voting are often like migrants … they want the working, earning males to pay for them and support them whilst those men get nothing in return, and at some point the men finally get sick of it and society gets turned upside down

    Those trying to destroy white societies understand this, which is why the first big agenda was feminism & ‘women’s lib’

  6. Marriage is a part time partnership for most. As soon as there’s a little controversy or hardship it usually dissolves and the kids suffer. Marriage used to be for better or for worse, now its for better or it’s over.

  7. A group of revolutionary fanatics have been obsessed with sexual revolution for a long time. Some might say that is one of the pre-eminent goals of this revolution. How did they achieve this madness, where children are told in elementary schools that it’s normal to mutilate genitals to become another sex? Or the madness where abortion is a right enshrined in the Constitution? Or that homosexuals can marry? This is madness, and it has an religio-ideological basis. Not an economic basis. As Communism itself is not about economics, it is a movement intended to serve Jewish interests from beginning to end.

    If your heritage is the plantations and ascendancy of 16th Century Ireland, you never represented the “real America” – you just happened to belong to people who assumed their backwoods life represented the whole continent and even forgot your origins, so you refer to yourselves as “Americans.” You’ve always been on the periphery of America, and your function is to growl at anyone who tells the truth about judeo-masonic America, and to fight like dogs in wars.

  8. Let every one be persuaded by their own mind. This would give everyone the opportunity to discover what makes sense, and what is foolish.

  9. This is, I think, the 89th anniversary of the public burning of the archives of the morals-corrupting “Institute of Sexual Research” by the Nazis: Not everything the Nazis did was wrong.

    The U.S.S.R. prohibited pornography until Glasnost (“opening up,” i.e. introduction of capitalism) when nude images began to appear, leading to the destruction of the Soviet Family and Russian socialism.

    Today is also the birthday of Black nationalist Malcolm X, who said “No black person married to a white person can speak for me (…) only a man who is ashamed of what he is will marry out of his race. There has to be something wrong when a man or a woman leaves their own people and marries somebody of another kind.”

  10. Even in my high school there have been girls who have slept around with dude after dude after dude. Many of them black. There is a lot race mixing and gay activity. It makes me physically sick. Rampant internet porn has ruined a generation.

  11. Unlike some, I do not blame the subject here on “liberal brainwashing” or some ((())) group. Rather, I see it as an inborn depravity that many humans have, expressed when the social leash proscribing it is cut.

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