Sex and the Nanny State


Once again I find myself, pace Matthew Arnold, “wandering between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born.” Three articles I’ve looked at recently remind me again that I don’t know how to negotiate the difference between the cultures my parents were raised in and that my children are. In this case it’s the culture of sex. My parent’s world, small Frisian villages, was one of austerity, ignorance, and some repression. My children’s? Well, consider the following:

Today’s NYTimes has an article detailing a new show on MTV which explores the hypersexualized lives of teenagers, and features teenagers in leading roles. The article notes that the show is vulnerable to child pornography regulations; nonethless, it’s a big hit among teenagers. How would it even be possible to talk about sex intelligently with individuals who watch this show? (To preempt the inevitable comment: my children do not watch MTV, but I suspect some of my students do.)

The Times article notes that the MTV series is a near exact replica of a British series. If we suppose that the pathologies of English-speaking liberalism move westward, this article from London’s Daily Mail demonstrates that such pathologies are not simply matters of private concern. Indeed, when coupled with the nannyish properties of the modern state, such supposed pathologies (in a classic Umwertung aller Werte virginity is treated here as a pathology) are “corrected” through the use of taxpayer dollars.

Not that America isn’t capable of producing it’s own sexual dystopias, in this case the always compliant Duke University. Caitlin Flanagan in the January Atlantic highlights a case at Duke involving a young woman who catalogued her sexual encounters (via powerpoint no less) and submitted them as an undergraduate thesis.* The entire story will leave you feeling dispirited, and if this doesn’t convince you that the main victims of the sexual revolution are young women, nothing will. The always incisive Flanagan demonstrates once again that the contemporary feminist movement loves women not enough.

Child pornography on television? State institutions paying for individuals to fly to Amsterdam to get laid? Undergraduate theses detailing perverse, violent, and subjugating sexual encounters? Give me the “backward” world of the small Frisian farming village.

Hat Tip: MVDG

*EDIT: Readers noted my mistake here, that it was not actually submitted as an undergraduate thesis. Flanagan notes this in her article, but in my pique I forgot this.  The beginning of the powerpoint says: “Senior Honors Thesis. Duke University. Submitted to the Department of Late-Night Entertainment in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for a Degree in Tempestuous Frolicking.” Obviously not official coursework. This doesn’t alter the character of her debasement, however.

  • Share: