Frannie Boyle, a 21-year-old Catholic at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., ignited a campus-wide debate when she repudiated the practice of casual sex and binge drinking.
That happened thanks to a recent CNN feature on this widely publicized trend.
“Casual hook-ups fueled by alcohol may be the norm across college campuses,” reported CNN, but Boyle “chose to stop. Her reasons to quit hooking up echo the emotional devastation of many college students, particularly girls whose hearts are broken by the hook-up scene.”
Vanderbilt’s fraternity leaders disputed Boyle’s portrait of campus socializing, while feminists chided the college junior for suggesting that female students wanted more from sex than their male counterparts. But the controversy helps explain why many Americans are not prepared to allow a related historical event — the 50th anniversary of the birth control pill — to glide by without scrutiny.
Decades after “The Pill” was supposed to secure a gender-free utopia — in sexual relationships, the home and the workplace — the data suggest it has produced a much more complicated legacy. The pill has been held responsible for unleashing the sexual revolution and for advancing the inclusion of women into the workplace, for fostering female independence and discouraging men from committing to marriage and children.
In the opinion pages of The New York Times, Elaine Tyler May’s “Promises the Pill Could Never Keep” suggested that contrary to the excited predictions of mid-century birth-control enthusiasts, the advent of the pill did not mark the decline of poverty rates, divorce or unwanted pregnancies. Quite the contrary.
Yet May, a professor of history at the University of Minnesota and the author of the forthcoming America and the Pill, argued that this new technology still fulfilled its fundamental mission: helping women “gain control of not only their fertility, but also their lives. They could decide whether to have children, and when. They could take advantage of new opportunities for education, work and participation in public life that opened up in the years following the pill’s approval,” she asserted.
This conflicted assessment of the pill’s impact on both individual lives and the broader culture underscores the difficulty of measuring its precise role in the ongoing transformation of American attitudes about the purpose and meaning of sex, the morality of abortion and contraception, women’s roles in the home and the workplace, and the relationship between human fertility and poverty rates.
For May, and many of the pill’s feminist supporters, the rise of woman-controlled fertility is a milestone in the fight for liberation. But some Catholic theologians, historians and natural family planning (NFP) experts contend that the push for “control” — though possibly well intentioned — unleashed destructive forces that still bedevil efforts to strengthen marriages, encourage mutual respect in college socializing, and embrace the full meaning and purpose of the human body, including the gift of fertility... Continued
For further reading, try the following links:
The Benefits of Natural Family Planning.