Baby-boomer feminists invented casual sex as a lifelong lifestyle choice. Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying elevated casual sex from the impulse purchase of randy teenagers to a carefully considered strategy for a lifetime. Marriage is for fuddy-duddies. True freedom means to be unencumbered by human relationships, always open to new possibilities. Now that this generation is about to retire, they are giving us a glimpse into how this investment program worked out for them.
They are writing their memoirs. God help us all.
Kay Hymowitz recently reviewed a few memoirs for a City Journal article called “Desperate Grandmas.” The grandmas are desperate to show that they are Still Doing It, and that it isBetter Than I Ever Expected. The author of a particularly exhibitionist book calledA Round-Heeled Woman actually advertised in TheNew York Review of Books for lovers to use as the basis for her book. “Before I turn 67–next March — I would like to have a lot of sex with a man I like. If you want to talk first, Trollope works for me.”
Gosh. When I’m 67, I expect to be having a lot of sex with a man I like, unless something untoward happens to Mr. Morse. I won’t even have to advertise.
As for Erica Jong’s latest, Seducing the Demon, Hymowitz describes it as “deeply embarrassing.” Jong doesn’t seem to realize that no one cares about her orgasms.
I certainly hope the City Journal gave Kay Hymowitz hazard pay for reading this nonsense.
She hits the nail on the head in her analysis of what is wrong with these women’s approach to aging and sexuality. It is “their enthusiastic display of that chronic boomer disease: narcissism.” Their excessive focus on the self has made it almost impossible for these women to form real relationships. By searching endlessly for self-actualization, they missed the growth that is only possible through self-giving. They spent their lives “finding themselves,” and never find anyone else.
But every “yes” is a “no” to its opposite. By saying “yes” to casual sex, easy divorce, and literary exhibitionism, these hip grandmas have said “no” to marriage and all the benefits it brings. Most happily married people don’t need to take out advertisements for sex. Nor do they take pleasure in writing books describing their sex lives to anonymous readers.
Married couples have more sex and more satisfying sex than singles or divorced people. In The Case for Marriage: Why Married People are Happier, Healthier and Better Off. Financially, Maggie Gallagher and Linda Waite cite the social science research on this subject: 42 percent of married women find sex “extremely emotionally satisfying,” compared with only 31 percent of those single women who had a regular sex partner. And of those women who have never married, 30 percent had no sex at all in the past year, compared with a mere 3 percent of married women. I am of approximately the same generation as the Desperate Grandmas. But I am not desperate. Far from it. Why? Because I am still married to the same man I married in 1984. Marriage helped us overcome our all-too-human tendency to self-absorption. We had to learn to accommodate each other, care about each other. Heck, sometimes it was an effort to even notice each other.
It wasn’t just our relationship that coaxed us out of our self-centeredness. Our kids helped, too. We have two kids. We have had eight foster kids. They drew us out of our self-absorption, quite against our will, I might add. I think my husband will concur that we each could have gone through life thinking My Life is All About Me.
Instead of a book called, Still Doing It, maybe I should write a book called, Still Doing It (With the Same Man!). Or maybe, Better Than We Ever Expected, instead of Better Than I Ever Expected, to indicate that our sex life is not about me, but about us.
The sexual revolution tried to give us sex without relationship. But sex is fundamentally relational. No wonder the baby-boomer grandmas are so desperate.
The generation of twentysomething women has a choice about what path to follow. Which will it be: Sex without relationship, or lifelong married love? We baby boomers have made our choices. Now the choice is yours.