“It's a modern changing world
Everything is moving fast.
But when it comes to love I like
What they did in the past” -- The Everly Brothers, 1962
Call me old-fashioned — and I've been called worse — but do I sense the possible end to the sexual revolution, which exploded in the '60s and whose fallout continues today.
Women complain that men won't commit, whether in a dating relationship or marriage. The #MeToo stories that have emerged since the exposure of Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual harassment of numerous women in Hollywood have also contributed to their frustration. Harassment victims feel used and abused by men who, apparently, were never taught that women are co-equals in the human race and thus deserving of respect, even honor. I know, that last part sounds old-fashioned.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd has written about a new book by Joanna Coles, chief content officer of Hearst magazines and the former editor of Cosmopolitan and Marie Claire, titled Love Rules. The book focuses on avoiding unhealthy relationships in the digital age.
Coles spoke to Dowd about the young women she knows who feel “obligated” to have sex with men they don't particularly like and what appears to be a growing “disillusionment with the hookup culture” at Middlebury College, as expressed by Leah Fessler in an article for the website Quartz.
What especially intrigued me about Dowd's column was this line from Coles: “No one wants to go back to sock hops and going steady, but to attempt to separate emotions from sex is not only illogical, given that emotion intensely augments pleasure, but also impossible for almost all women.”
As a product of the sock hop and going steady generation I rise to its defense.
So, “no one” wants to return to a system that largely prevented the emotional, relational and, yes, physical problems encountered by modern lifestyles? Isn't it the very definition of “insanity” when one expects different results while repeating the same behavior?
There were certain “rules,” way back when, about how men should treat women (though Hugh Hefner would later blow them up). The rules mostly worked for people who conformed to them. Yes, I know women experienced other problems then.
The societal wreckage caused by the hookup culture, easy divorce and co-habitation without commitment doesn't need studies, though there have been some, chiefly by the late Judith Wallerstein, who spent 25 years studying the effects of divorce on children. She ultimately found that the pain from their parents' breakup continued to cause them distress well into adulthood.
Common sense and experience also reveal certain things about human relationships, which work best and which don't, especially for women, who mostly bear the burden when men don't “love, honor and cherish” them until death they do part. For those of a certain age, that's what couples used to pledge to each other when they married.
Dowd quotes Coles as saying modern sex is “bleak.” It doesn't have to be. Millennials would do well to consult their old-fashioned and long-married grandparents. Or they can put on a “Golden Oldies” radio station and hear Don and Phil Everly sing:
“I'm the kind who loves only one
So the boys say I'm old fashioned.
Let them laugh, honey I don't mind.
I've made plans for a wedding day for you and me.
That's old fashioned.
That's the way love should be.”