The tragedy of commitment-free sex

There’s a fascinating article in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph by Mary Loxley, written in reponse to the release of the latest Bridget Jones movie. She begins by describing a brief fling she had when she was 27.

It’s a story that, as I turn 46, I feel I could be looking back on – almost fondly – as part of growing up. Except it isn’t. Turns out there wasn’t anything progressive about it, lesser still something to think fondly about, because there was way too much more of the same to come. Not just for me, but for very many now middle-aged women who’ll see real tragedy, hardly comedy, in Bridget.

Ten years later she had an affair with the same man, except that he was now married. In the article she contemplate telling his wife so that he shares the pain he has inflicted on her.

He told me he didn’t want to ‘ruin my life’ with our affair. It’s a bit late for that, I thought. You and your like already have. I’m well over 40; I may never have my own family and my life is dominated by the many harsh personal and practical realities of remaining single.

She comments:

Culturally, the sexual permissiveness of the ‘60s – made possible by the Pill – is a major cause of my situation. Before then, the danger of unwanted pregnancy had ensured a woman withheld sex from a man until she got him to commit. By the time I reached adulthood, men could get sexual intercourse with unprecedented ease and women provided it freely.

The story our culture tells of the sexual revoltuion is one of liberation, especially for women. The reality for most women, however, is very different. Marriage is a God-given mechanism through which men are forced to grow up and take responsibility in life. Commitment-free sex is bad news for women – maybe not all women all the time – but for most women most of the time. ‘In an era of strong women,’ says Foxley, ‘it’s not fashionable to admit that … I am now very vulnerable.’

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