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The Case Against the Sexual Revolution Paperback – 3 Jun. 2022
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Ditching the stuffy hang-ups and benighted sexual traditionalism of the past is an unambiguously positive thing. The sexual revolution has liberated us to enjoy a heady mixture of erotic freedom and personal autonomy. Right?
Wrong, argues Louise Perry in her provocative new book. Although it would be neither possible nor desirable to turn the clock back to a world of pre-60s sexual mores, she argues that the amoral libertinism and callous disenchantment of liberal feminism and our contemporary hypersexualised culture represent more loss than gain. The main winners from a world of rough sex, hook-up culture and ubiquitous porn – where anything goes and only consent matters – are a tiny minority of high-status men, not the women forced to accommodate the excesses of male lust. While dispensing sage advice to the generations paying the price for these excesses, she makes a passionate case for a new sexual culture built around dignity, virtue and restraint.
This counter-cultural polemic from one of the most exciting young voices in contemporary feminism should be read by all men and women uneasy about the mindless orthodoxies of our ultra-liberal era.
'This clear-sighted, compassionate book challenges the reigning sexual orthodoxy of “anything goes”, showing the many uncounted costs it imposes on women. A must-read for conservatives and feminists alike.’
Mary Harrington, Contributing Editor, UnHerd
‘In this thoughtful, timely and witty book, Louise Perry exposes the travesty of “sex positive” feminism as neither positive nor sexy and argues for new thinking which puts women’s true interests, desires and happiness at its heart.’
Janice Turner, Timescolumnist and feature writer
'Books such as Perry’s matter […] many of her arguments — that consent is an inadequate measure of what is and is not abuse, that the valuing of sexual freedom over mutual dependency benefits the most privileged at the expense of the least, that physical strength differences between men and women matter enormously — seem to me hugely important, yet completely absent from so much of the feminism I have known.'
''tackles the costs of the sexual revolution head-on… a brave and unflinching book''
Nina Power, author of What Do Men Want?
''This is a marvellously essential book, brilliantly argued. Perry has written the most radical feminist challenge to a failed liberal feminism.''
Phyllis Chesler, writer, feminist and psychologist, author of Women and Madness
''Brilliantly conceived and written, this highly original book is an urgent call for a sexual counter-revolution. A book as stimulating as the splash of icy water that wakes someone from a nightmare.''
Helen Joyce, author of Trans: When Ideology Meets Reality
''Those feminists who assume this book is not for them – give it a go. Brilliantly written, cleverly argued, packed with fascinating ideas and information: agree or disagree with the central premise, it is fresh and exciting.''
Julie Bindel, feminist and writer, author of Feminism for Women
“crisply readable polemic”
“It’s a combination of beliefs that will outrage almost everyone. Radical feminists, the old-guard 1960s firebrands, will agree with her on porn, but be aghast by the chapter on marriage; social conservatives will love the marriage chapter, but bristle at Perry’s approval of abortion; the new generation of liberal feminists, who have known nothing but sexual freedom, may well despise it all.”
The Sunday Times
Suzanne Moore, The Sunday Telegraph
“She’s right - and courageous.”
"urgent and daring and brave. It may turn out to be one of the most important feminist books of its time."
Rachel Cooke, The Observer
“…Louise Perry lobs a grenade into feminist discourse.”
"This is a provocative book. More than once, its author says the unsayable. It makes you think, and it makes you want for a better world. It is urgent and daring and brave. It may turn out to be one of the most important feminist books of its time."
Rachel Cooke, The Guardian
“challenging and thought-provoking”
Hugo Rifkind, The Times
“will ruffle liberal feathers all over the coop.”
“Perry undeniably has a sharp eye both for the ways in which contemporary feminism risks eating itself […] and for those guilty feminist moments where emotions awkwardly refuse to comply with the theoretical ideal. Any woman who has ever had what was meant to be a gloriously hedonistic no-strings fling, only to find herself anxiously checking her WhatsApps just to see if he’s called, will recognise something here.”
Gaby Hinsliff, the New Statesman
“This could be a movement in its nascent days.”
“[Perry’s] book suggests a renewed bibliography that enables the reader to grasp the paradoxes at play within liberal feminism’s theses.”
Lola Salem, The Critic
"This ‘crisply readable’ polemic questions whether sexual freedom is really as liberating as it sounds"
About the Author
- Publisher : Polity; 1st edition (3 Jun. 2022)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 200 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1509549994
- ISBN-13 : 978-1509549993
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 1.78 x 21.59 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 3,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 3 August 2022
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But anyone with some exposure to a religiously conservative church will know that these institutions very much enforce the sexual repression of young men (and women) and that this causes a great deal of harm since getting married to have sex, which happens all to often, is the worst of motivations.
The sexual revolution that she criticises gained support from men and women because what both sexes need is the space to explore intimate relationships and to find out what works for them.
In the end the only format for successful heterosexual relationships is love, a word that I don't think is mentioned in the book even once. If we have moved into a loveless age, the answers as to why lie more in hyper-individualism and the destruction of community than the immutable and therefore ultimately hopeless socio-biology upon which her analysis heavily relies.
The deficits of our age play out in its extensive mental health crisis. This book is a very good polemic to start a debate but in truth Perry demonstrates a failure both of feminism and social conservatism to understand the roots of the modern crisis of relationship.
As far as “chronological snobbery” goes, I often try and understand and imagine what it must have been like to live in the age of Jane Austen or in the 19th century of the Schumanns and Brahms. Brahms was in love all his life with a woman he couldn’t have and yet nobody wrote better love songs or had deeper friendships with both men and women than Brahms. Are we missing something? Stephan Zweig writes in “The World of Yesterday” about this, he says when he sees young couples who have become lovers he thinks about Vienna in his youth and the terrible ordeals the kids had to go through if infected with syphillis and he definitely prefers the modern way, but he was writing in the 1940s long before the rise of Tinder and the modern omnicopulant freelance gonadista.
The writer ends with a recommendation to get married. I think that’s sound advice, even though I never quite managed it. The world of casual sexual encounters is becoming quite terrifying, not just for women, but also for men who can easily lose their reputation and profession if they do something that stranger lying next to them in bed wasn’t quite expecting. Maybe the greatest invention of mankind was not the wheel, but the wedding ring?