Review: The Case Against the Sexual Revolution by Louise Perry
Perry can see the problems and where our cherished “freedom” has led us. The powerful abuse their privileges. The weak and the poor are exploited. Many of our desires are damaging or outright evil. Perry can see and feel the damage these things do, and her common sense—under the sway of common grace—helps her to trace the outlines of a better way. But she cannot bring herself to acknowledge the One who created sex; who declares that women are made in his image and must be treated with respect; who says that there is a right way to live after all.
This is the book that every Christian pastor should read if they’re dealing with anyone under the age of 75. And yet, it is probably the book that no Christian pastor would want to read. Louise Perry exposes some very dark aspects of the sexual revolution. It’s not titillating in any way, but it certainly describes some nasty things that people do to each other. Unfortunately, pastors should probably have some awareness of them.
She begins with a brief account of her personal story,
As a younger woman, I held the same political opinions as most other millennial urban graduates in the West—In other words, I conformed to the beliefs of my class, including the liberal feminist ideas about porn, BDSM, hookup culture, evolutionary psychology, and the sex trade, which will all be addressed in this book. I let go of these beliefs because of my own life experiences, including a period immediately after university spent working at a rape crisis centre. If the old quip tells us that a “conservative is just a liberal who has been mugged by reality,” then I suppose, at least in my case, that a post-liberal feminist is just a liberal feminist who has witnessed the reality of male violence up close.
A History of Violence
Perry then walks us through the last 50 or so years of the sexual revolution. She tallies up the damage done to women—especially young, or poor, or uneducated women—and shows how feminism has failed to help. Neither liberal feminism, striving for freedom, nor radical feminism, dreaming of utopia, can help.
Perry’s own concerns are much more sober:
How can we best promote the well-being of both men and women, given that these two groups have different sets of interests, which are sometimes in tension? (10).
To explain these differences and tensions, Perry provides a chapter on the physical differences between men and women—particularly the overwhelming imbalance of strength between the sexes. She reminds us that 98 to 99% of convicted sexual offenders are male (37) and urges women to consider what this might mean for their decisions about dress and intoxicants:
If you wanted to design the perfect environment for the would-be rapist, then you couldn’t do much better than a party or nightclub filled with young women who are wearing high heels (limited mobility) and drinking or taking drugs (limited awareness)… So my advice to young women has to be this: avoid putting yourself in a situation where you are alone with a man you don’t know or a man who gives you a bad feeling in your gut. He is almost certainly stronger and faster than you, which means that the only thing standing between you and rape is that man’s self-control. (43)
Perry has a disturbing chapter where she argues that “some sexual desires are bad” (the fact that she has to argue this is in itself troubling). Responding to those who say that there is no such thing as sexual morality, she argues that sexual codes do not necessarily “progress” and that some things are simply wrong. She gives the example of Jimmy Savile (the UK television presenter who died in 2011), who was posthumously discovered to have raped or sexually assaulted up to a thousand girls and boys. Sexual desires like those need to be repressed.
Conversely, she argues, some traditional behaviours need to be recovered.