Society Needs Sexual Evolution: Permissiveness vs. Authentic Liberation

By Callahan, Sidney | National Catholic Reporter, June 4, 1993 | Go to article overview
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Society Needs Sexual Evolution: Permissiveness vs. Authentic Liberation


Callahan, Sidney, National Catholic Reporter


The scandal surrounding the 1991 convention of the Tailhook Association, that group of U.S. Navy aviators we've been reading about of late, provides more proof that America's sexual revolution is really a form of sexual aggression.

This month, the Pentagon's inspector general issued an investigatory report describing the convention as a three-day drunken debauch in which crowds of men sexually assaulted 83 women and seven men. Women were forced to run a gauntlet, others were pinched, bitten, fondled, stripped and harassed.

Officers who were not gentlemen were photographed in T-shirts bearing the motto, "Women Are Property." Raucous attendees competed in crude acts of exposing genitals, baring bottoms and biting buttocks.

Admittedly, some women in the melee were voluntarily engaged. A nude stripper and other female guests participated in consensual and public displays of oral sex, sexual intercourse and genital exposure. Apparently, at previous conventions of this group, spouses and cameras had been banned, and the only women present had been prostitutes and willing "groupies." But in 1991, unsuspecting women who appeared were assaulted.

This instance of deteriorating sexual behavior could be seen as one isolated incident if Americans were not regularly affronted by accounts of rape, date rape, spouse abuse, sexual harassment and other acts of violence against women. Moreover, reported cases of incest, pedophilia and child sexual abuse increase every year.

At the same time, more Americans are reported to approve and practice recreational sex or casual sex -- engaging in sex without any long-term mutual commitment with partners. Significantly, the major change in American sexual practices over the last three decades has been the increased sexual permissiveness of females. More women now act the way many men used to act when they could get away with it. And premarital sexual activity for both women and men starts at increasingly younger ages.

Permissive American sexual practices, before, during, between and after marriages result in a lifetime average of seven sexual partners per adult. Serial sexual encounters on the part of individuals produce a host of negative social consequences: AIDS, 56 million cases of sexually transmitted diseases and 1.5 million abortions a year.

In addition to abortions and venereal diseases (the brunt of which are borne by women), we see the decline of sexual sensibilities and moral responsibility. A glance at television, the press, movies and new music reveals the ways sexual crudity, exhibitionism and sexual exploitation coarsen our common life.

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