The Bitter Fruit of the Sexual Revolution

Premarital Sex in America: How Young Americans Meet, Mate, and Think about Marrying Mark Regnerus and Jeremy UeckerOxford University Press, 2010; 312 pages, $24.95 Although written two centuries ago, the novels of Jane Austen remain a fascination with many young adults living on this side of the Atlantic. It is hard to imagine a cultural setting and a set of characters more unfamiliar to the modern-day reader. The value placed on self-restraint, decorum, and propriety in Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility is utterly at odds with the value placed today on self-expression, idiosyncrasy, and atomic individualism. Yet, Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker’s meticulously researched and well-written book on the emotional and sexual ethos of America in 2011 goes a long way in explaining why these seemingly anachronistic stories retain their immediacy. The touching innocence, moral certainty, and kindness of Jane Austen’s heroines and the comforting chivalry, moral excellence and noblesse oblige of her heroes provide a welcome respite from the often cynical and emotionally brutal and unromantic world of young readers of the twenty-first century. Indeed, Premarital Sex in America provides a compelling, yet sober snapshot of that twenty-first century world. Packed with key findings of the authors’ extensive quantitative and qualitative research, the book chronicles the romantic and sexual lives of “emerging adults” from ages 18 to 23. It is frankly disturbing; parts are not for the faint of heart, nor at times, for the faint of stomach. The two sociologists lament that, because of the increase in the age at first marriage, “more and more premarital sex is occurring than ever before” and that the term “has lost most of its association with marriage” altogether. They explain that “a good life in the minds of many Americans now involves delayed marriage and childbearing but accelerated sex.” The book employs a valuable explanatory framework
Please subscribe or log in to read the rest of this content.