Fifty Years of Sexual Suicide

It was 50 years ago this month that the contraceptive pill was launched. It sparked a worldwide revolution which we are still feeling the effects of. It was a major factor in the sexual revolution of the 1960s, and it was meant to be a leading feature of so-called sexual liberation.

One can ask however just who has been liberated. Men were certainly the big winners in the sexual revolution, and in the use of the Pill. They could literally love ‘em and leave ‘em, thinking sex was now fully loosened from any concerns about procreation.

But women were the real losers here. They certainly did not find liberation as a result of using the Pill. The Pill of course could never prevent a busted relationship or a broken heart. It did nothing to halt a whole range of sexually transmitted diseases. It did nothing for women’s self-esteem and sense of worth. And it did nothing to generate real love and commitment.

And then there are all the health risks associated with the Pill. Just how many women actually read that small folded piece of paper that came with the Pill? Once unfolded, it turned out to be a very large piece of paper with a huge amount of tiny print totalling thousands of words, warning of all sorts of nasty side-effects and negative consequences.

I am sure most young women on the emotional and physical crest of the wave, about to engage in sexual intercourse, did not tell their male partner to wait for ten minutes while they pulled out these instructions and carefully read through all the many warnings contained therein.

I and others have written elsewhere about the many devastating effects of the sexual revolution, and how we are all the worse for it. The Pill certainly must take a fair amount of responsibility for all this. But I can already hear the critics saying that I have no right to comment on all this – after all, I am only a mere male.

OK, then, let me draw upon two women – out of many – who have also decried the Pill and its horrendous consequences, especially for women. The first is Canberra-based newspaper columnist, Angela Shanahan.

She begins by noting how Big Pharmacy was also a big winner in all this. They have been raking in billions while ordinary men and women have suffered. She lists some of the dangerous side effects of the Pill, and notes how those marketing it want to play this down:

“Consequently, even though the pill has been linked to deep-vein thrombosis and enhanced risk of stroke and thyroid problems, and it is contra-indicated for women with migraines and liver problems and has been linked in many studies to enhanced risk of breast cancer and cervical cancer, we are still told it can have a ‘protective’ effect in some circumstances against some other cancers such as the much rarer ovarian cancer. This is also despite the fact its use is no preventive against sexually transmitted diseases and could worsen the spread of papilloma virus, which causes cervical cancer.”

But if it is so dangerous, why do women keep using it? “Why are more women not informing themselves? Women who pride themselves on their independence, a supposed result of the sexual revolution the pill itself initiated, are still swallowing a cocktail of hormones that has as its only purpose the suppression of the most delicately balanced part of our endocrine chemistry.

“The irony is obvious. So is the answer. Because the pill works well as a contraceptive, it has a weird catch 22 effect on women’s choices. Because the pill is effective, women did not gain independence in 1960: just another type of slavery. Women graduated from the slavery of multiple child births to the slavery of obligation to be always sexually available, and never to suffer the newly declared disease of unintentional pregnancy.”

Shanahan also notes how men are the winners here while women are the losers: “Frankly, the pill was the best invention men could have thought of for themselves. Rather than the contraceptive pill giving women independence, it made them solely responsible for contraception and took all the onus off men. Where once it was considered honourable for the male to accept his responsibilities, abortion or lone motherhood rapidly became the only alternatives for unmarried girls with pregnancies. Married women were now caught in the tyranny of the rigidly planned family. Hence the rise in abortions.

“Over the past 50 years, there was another unintended cultural effect of infertility. It was assumed the pill would be used to space children apart, not almost eliminate births as it has in so many parts of Europe. So now we live in a society that can no longer reproduce itself.”

She concludes, “Fifty years ago the pill was marketed like a lovely package of independence tied with the beautiful bow of sexual freedom. But after 50 years many women have found to their detriment that just like a series of empty boxes, one inside the other, there was nothing inside – but an empty box.”

My other female witness is a rather unlikely source of criticism of the Pill. The following telling remarks come from former Hollywood sex goddess, Raquel Welch. She is equally scathing of the Pill and what it has done to a generation of women. She notes that the very moral fabric of society has been savaged by the Pill and the sexual revolution:

“One significant, and enduring, effect of The Pill on female sexual attitudes during the 60’s, was: ‘Now we can have sex anytime we want, without the consequences. Hallelujah, let’s party!’ It remains this way. These days, nobody seems able to ‘keep it in their pants’ or honor a commitment! Raising the question: Is marriage still a viable option? I’m ashamed to admit that I myself have been married four times, and yet I still feel that it is the cornerstone of civilization, an essential institution that stabilizes society, provides a sanctuary for children and saves us from anarchy.

“In stark contrast, a lack of sexual inhibitions, or as some call it, ‘sexual freedom,’ has taken the caution and discernment out of choosing a sexual partner, which used to be the equivalent of choosing a life partner. Without a commitment, the trust and loyalty between couples of childbearing age is missing, and obviously leads to incidents of infidelity. No one seems immune.

“As a result of the example set by their elders, by the 1990s teenage sexual promiscuity – or hooking up – with multiple partners had become a common occurrence. Many of my friends who were parents of teenagers sat in stunned silence several years ago when it came to light that oral sex had become a popular practice among adolescent girls in middle schools across the country.”

She concludes with a personal note: “The 13-year-old daughter of one such friend freely admitted to performing fellatio on several boys at school on a regular basis. ‘Aw come on, Mom. It’s no big deal. Everyone is doing it,’ she said. Apparently, since it’s not the act of intercourse, kids don’t count it as sex. Can any sane person fail to make a judgment call about that?

“Seriously, folks, if an aging sex symbol like me starts waving the red flag of caution over how low moral standards have plummeted, you know it’s gotta be pretty bad. In fact, it’s precisely because of the sexy image I’ve had that it’s important for me to speak up and say: Come on girls! Time to pull up our socks! We’re capable of so much better.”

It is hoped that many more women will speak out on how the Pill in particular and the sexual revolution in general have done more harm for women than perhaps anything else in modern history. Thus we cannot celebrate what occurred 50 years ago. We must instead mourn.

[1322 words]

20 Replies to “Fifty Years of Sexual Suicide”

  1. Chesterton, who died in 1936 and therefore did not see the invention of the Pill, nevertheless described Birth Control as No Birth and No Control.

    Lots of intended and unintended consequences there have been with the munching of this little fella.

    Hilary Gilbert

  2. But it not only the pill that has reduced women to sex machines. Artificial insemination and surrogacy have also reduced them to breeding machines. As a friend of mine said you cannot put a condom on your heart.

    David Skinner, UK

  3. The sad aspect to the perception that oral sex is not really sex, as Raquel Welch alludes to, is the fact that there is greater disposition towards cancer of the tonsils, especially when there have been multiple partners.
    Wayne Pelling

  4. To be fair, the small proportion of the female population who have always been inclined to “whore around” have benefited… they no longer have “consequences” worth worry about, thanks to the pill, abortion if that fails, and latex STI barriers (and medical treatment, perceived to be better than it is).

    However, Marie Stopes (The abortion providers) did a survey recently and found that 60% of the women with unplanned pregnancies were using contraceptives at the time… so it isn’t the panacea it’s painted to be – on on hand, women should be available “because it’s not like you’ll get pregnant”. On the other hand, they still CAN (and do) get pregnant, and it’s somehow their fault.

    For the sake of discussion, a male pill is again being developed (we saw a clinical trial ad in the local paper). Aside from it not affecting women’s bodies, would it create the same situation – “you won’t get pregnant so just sleep with me”?

    Alison Keen

  5. Dear Bill,
    As usual, not only great thought and inspiration, but also great journalism, and great polemic!

    re: “the contraceptive pill … sparked a worldwide revolution”: There is some evidence that birth rates in Australia were falling before the widespread use of the [steroid] pill. In other words, the anti-natal mindset was [and is] the fundamental dynamic. The ‘pill’ was the ‘vehicle’, but the ‘fuel’ is our decisions and intentions.

    Gerard Flood

  6. Dear Bill, A much needed article on the Pill which ushered in the sexual revolution.However, I hope you will not mind me offering another perspective which you did not mention. I am old enough to remember when EVERYONE [myself included] was waiting with bated breath for Pope Paul V1th to approve its use for faithful Catholics. I lived in the north of England then and life was a struggle to make ends meet as wages weren’t very high and few women worked outside the home.Granted we were better off than our grandparents but even so not everyone had the luxury of bathrooms, running hot water, washing machines, refrigerators or disposable nappies which makes having a family so much easier.I remember going on a camping holiday with my young family and washing cloth nappies out in cold water! When Pope Paul disapproved of the Pill for Catholics the media had a ball condemning him for being callous and uncaring. He must have really suffered over the reaction but In hindsight everyone should be able to see now how right he was and how the Holy Spirit guided the Church in Truth. However, that doesn’t stop me from thinking that the Church as an institution lacked compassion at the time for young, healthy, fertile couples who for numerous reasons genuinely felt unable to cope with large families as their grandparents had. It should have been seen as a problem for the faithful much sooner and not swept under the carpet as we have found that the child abuse problem was. More resources and science should have been poured into researching a reliable natural method which has now been available for decades and widely promoted in the Church today. Surely this could have been done much sooner than it was.It would not just have given couples some much needed peace of mind to have some control over how many children they felt they could cope with but it would have strengthened their marriages. Perhaps then there would not have been so much divorce amongst Catholics. Instead, the pharmaceutical companies were the main beneficiaries of what was a genuine concern for couples.One that should not have been under estimated or swept under the carpet with the philosophy of ‘every child is a gift from God.’ The Catholic faithful already knew that in their hearts and thousands of Catholic women have been generous enough to give birth to a child they did not really want at first. It is not often I criticise Holy Mother Church because I love it dearly and thank God for it but it does make mistakes and in this it should have helped the faithful much sooner with a problem that was very real for many. The blame cannot always be laid at the feet of the faithful for the choices they felt they had to make.
    Patricia Halligan

  7. Bill,

    It seems like you, similarly to myself (also a protestant), are becoming “amost Catholic” on the issue of contraception. Hope I understand you correctly and haven’t misportrayed you …

    Graeme Cumming

  8. Patricia,

    Natural Family Planning was around for quite a while before the Pill came on the market. I don’t mean the Rhythm Method which went out with button up boots, but the thoroughly researched modern methods like the Billings Ovulation Method, which has been around for over 50 years.

    Pope Paul VI was well aware of the need to encourage scientific research into fertility. He wrote in Humanae Vitae,
    We wish now to express our encouragement to men of science who can considerably advance the welfare of marriage and the family, along with peace of conscience, if by pooling their efforts they labour to explain more thoroughly the various conditions favouring a proper regulation of births.”

    Great article Bill!
    It took a long time for the UN to acknowledge that the Pill is a Class 1 carcinogen (2005), though it has been implicated in a whole host of cancers for a long time.

    However it is the Pill’s “contribution” to enabling and promoting abortion that is the biggest indictment against it. If a pregnancy results when using the Pill, abortion is seen as the best method of correcting the failure. Maybe women using the Pill have been conditioned to think this way by the literature in the Pill packet. It euphemistically states,

    Although the primary mechanism of action is inhibition of ovulation, alterations in the genital tract including changes in cervical mucus (which increase the difficulty of sperm penetration) and the endometrium ( which reduce the likelihood of implanation) may also contribute to contraceptive effectiveness. (Emphasis mine)

    Put plainly, this means that the 6 to 8 day old embryo cannot implant in the womb and will be flushed out of its mother’s body.

    Even one of the inventors of the Pill, Carl Djerrasi, said there were better ways of managing fertility.

    Jane Munro

  9. Jane,

    Can you give a reference for the comment “the UN to acknowledge that the Pill is a Class 1 carcinogen (2005)”. I have heard this before but googling this a few years ago I could find no reference to it.

    Graeme Cumming

  10. Bill,

    As a child of the 60s, I too can attest to the devastation wrought by the pill. Instead of liberating women, it brought the unhappiness that invariably comes from casual sex. It was great for men, bu many women felt used and betrayed when men they had a sexual relationship with went on to other conquests.

    Let’s face it, most women want the stability that comes from a trusting monogamous relationship. Most women want marriage and children.

    I believe those of us who were young in the 60s, with it’s advocacy of free love, are responsible for the weakening of any moral boundaries today, which threatens the whole basis of our Judeo-Christian ethic, and has allowed Islamism and other totalitarian ideologies to enter our society.

    Abortion was also supposed to have liberated women, but women grieve for a lifetime after the quick fix of getting rid of an inconvenient baby. What is al;so never mentioned is the future health risks that having an abortion poses. We have health warnings on cigarette packets, so why not before women have abortions, so they can make an informed choice?

    Pam Renton

  11. Hi Bill,

    I know you had your tongue firmly in your cheek when you said that men were the “big winners” as the use of the pill allowed them to “love ‘em and leave ‘em”.

    But even though women have come off much worse, it’s important to point out that men have lost big-time because of the pill too.

    Men now have a greatly increased temptation to fornicate. And if they succumb, then they must deal with the guilt, remorse and subsequent difficulty of relating normally with women.

    Furthermore, the widespread growth of promiscuous and feminist attitudes concomitant with pill availability now make finding a suitable wife to build a stable family increasingly difficult.

    Mansel Rogerson

  12. Great article Bill!

    Raquel states another shocking truth, “..She concludes with a personal note: “The 13-year-old daughter of one such friend freely admitted to performing fellatio on several boys at school on a regular basis. ‘Aw come on, Mom. It’s no big deal. Everyone is doing it,’ she said. Apparently, since it’s not the act of intercourse, kids don’t count it as sex. Can any sane person fail to make a judgment call about that?”

    I made a judgment call 25 years ago about the risks of peer pressure and having my children brain washed into believing lies and self destructive philosophies, I home educated my five children and took the responsibility back home where it has always belonged. Parents can’t blame the system they so happily employ if the results are less than pleasing, can they?

    Also wise words and true Mansel, “…Furthermore, the widespread growth of promiscuous and feminist attitudes concomitant with pill availability now make finding a suitable wife to build a stable family increasingly difficult.”

    That is a situation often overlooked as another unwanted “side-effect” of the so called “sexual revolution”. I know so many celibate faithful young men who trust God to find them a partner but they don’t see celibate faithful young women around them to even contemplate a friendship with never mind a marriage. And they all go to church!

    Birth control = bondage, for men and women!

    thanks again Bill!

    Lynn Nerdal

  13. Dear Jane, I welcome your comment about my thoughts on a subject I have always felt very strongly about. I hope no one minds me adding a few more. The Billings research into the natural method of family planning may have been known about in Australia, the Billings doctors being an Australian couple but it was definitely not known about in the UK in the mid fifties when my husband and I were married. I thank God for their great work even though it came too late for me and my husband. Had we known about it we would have been only too happy to have made it work. My daughter and her husband used it with success when she got married in the eighties but by that time we had emigrated to Australia.

    Pope Paul V1 may have been personally very sympathetic to the problem mentioning the need for more research into a reliable natural method in Humanae Vitae but I still maintain that the Church as an institution with its massive resources did not try hard enough to encourage the practical help that the natural method offers to the faithful. If it had acknowledged that not all couples were psychologically suited for a large family or even had the economic means to support a large family and tried harder to find God’s own solution which was there from the beginning of time so many of the Catholic faithful would not have become so dissillusioned and left the Church. Don’t get me wrong I have great admiration for couples who are generous enough to want a large family especially these days when there is a real choice. I know of many couples who have had large families either planned or by accident and they have finally reaped the reward for their unselfishness and hard work. This is because in most cases their children gather round them in their old age and they are cared for. However, the stark reality is that not everyone can give so much and that should have been recognised because God made us all different. Apparently God knew this because according to my history studies I believe a natural method was known about amongst primitive people but was lost with time. A Loving, Wise and Good God who could visualise the future of the world He had created would not have created a woman without a perfect, natural method which could be utilised to enrich the relationship between loving, faithful spouses. This enrichment would have included the freedom from the anxiety of possible, unwanted pregnancies. Instead, many Catholic couples chose the Pill because they felt they had no other choice and as Bill has said men not women were the main winners. Even good men were given the green light to become selfish in sexual matters.

    In my opinion the reason the Church as an institution lacked real compassion and understanding about what many of the faithful were finding was a real problem was the attitudes amongst the clergy which prevailed then. A friend of mine from the early sixties in England remembers a priest telling her that she was being selfish not having any children when in fact she wanted children badly and was unable to get pregnant. He obviously assumed she was using artificial birth control. Had the natural method been known about she may not have had so many barren years. The priest’s attitude did not impress her husband who was not a Catholic. The idea that all women should be prepared to have lots of children to please Almighty God was a common one amongst the clergy then and if a woman didn’t want a large family then she was automatically labelled selfish when this was not always the case.Needless to say I am totally against abortion for unwanted pregnancies. I believe Motherhood IS a noble calling but the TRUTH is some find it harder than others to live up to because God made us all different.

    Patricia Halligan

  14. Graeme,

    The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) issued a press release on the 29th July 2005 classifying the combined estrogen-progesterone oral contraceptive (OC) as carcinogenic. The IARC is a division of the World Health Organisation (WHO). The Pill was given a Group 1 classification, the highest classification of carcinogenicity.

    Prior to that, in 2003, the National Cancer Institute (USA) had issued a warning that they had found a substantially increased risk of several types of cancer amongst OC users, citing a “significant increase” of the risk of breast cancer, as well as an increase in the risk of cervical and liver cancers.

    According to the IARC there are over 100 million women worldwide using combined estrogen-progesterone oral contraceptives. That is a lot of women facing an increased risk of cancer!


    I appreciate your comments, however I do know that obtaining research funding for a family planning method that is basically free, is very difficult. No pharmaceutical company, with share holders to satisfy would be interested. In spite of this difficulty a lot of excellent research is being carried out in several countries, particularly in Chile.

    I have no doubt some priests, counsellors, lay advisors and Church run organizations have given bad advice. Achieving perfect understanding and counselling from all ordinary, frail and fallen humans is a bit tricky. I agree there is room for improvement.

    Jane Munro

  15. yet another man attempt to be smarter than his creator. 42 never taken, one use abstinence. Married not easy road but am in for better or worse. hope to teach my girls before it too late.
    Adelaide Ntim-Duodu

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