Revolutionary sexual politics has always had as one of its principle aims the expansion of the sexual franchise, so to speak: first to unmarried people, then to gay people, with an effort currently underway to normalize prostitution (what is euphemistically referred to as “sex work”) and group sex (what we still deign to call polygamy or polyandry or sometimes, in a sheer overload of Millennial propriety, “throupling”). The target groups in question have always been having (or selling) sex, of course, but the sexual revolution has worked to secure, and in many cases has succeeded in securing, society’s tolerance and/or blessing for such sexual activity.
What’s the next big frontier for sexual politics? It is, and has been for some time, the sexualization of children. This has been done before—if there is something perverse under the sun, the Greeks have probably already gotten around to it—and in some Islamic societies it is still being done to certain extents (legend has it that Muhammad married a young lady at the age of six but was thoughtful enough to wait until she was nine or ten to consummate). But now modern Western culture is currently engaged in a fairly far-reaching effort to extend sexual license to young people, increasingly not in a wink-wink look-the-other-way sort of fashion but explicitly and deliberately. Teen Vogue reports:
NPR reports that a review of birth control pill research published in the Journal of Adolescent Health makes the most comprehensive case yet for allowing over-the-counter birth control for teens. In fact, the research found birth control pills might be safer for young people, because your risk for negative side effects such as blood clots is greater if you’re older.
“There is a growing body of evidence that the safety risks are low and benefits are large,” Krishna Upadhya, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the lead author of the review, told NPR…
With this new research, Upadhya told NPR, everyone, regardless of age, should be able to get the Pill from her local pharmacy, no prescription needed.
“These pills are safe and effective and we should reduce barriers to using them,” she said. “And teens should benefit just as adult women do.”
Here is one of the dirty little secrets of modern progressive sexual politics: nobody wants to encourage adolescents to have sex, but actually lots of people kinda do want to. It is difficult, of course, to find people who would openly agree that fourteen-and-fifteen-year-olds should be engaging in sexual intercourse. But you can find plenty of people who say things like, “Well, kids are going to have sex anyway, so we might as well make sure they’re doing it safely.” Earlier generations might have regarded this as a non sequitur—that young sexual activity is unsafe ex vi termini. But modern sexual politics can brook no such practical or moral concerns: thus why a Johns Hopkins professor can sincerely advocate that we encourage “teens,” that is to say children, to have sex, and nobody really blinks an eye (aside from us throwback sexual prudes, who nobody really listens to anyway).
There is no other moral consideration that I am aware of wherein people say, “Well, bad thing X is going to happen, so we might as well make it easier on all parties concerned.” I suppose the lesson here might be this: for many people, underage adolescent sexual activity is in and of itself not a “bad thing.” You won’t find many people willing to just admit that they feel this way, but you will find plenty of people who want to give kids a helpful boost when it comes to having sex, which is functionally indistinguishable from outright encouragement. This is the glorious world bequeathed to us by the sexual revolutionaries of the mid-20th century: a periodical called the “Journal of Adolescent Health” clamoring to make sexual agents out of children, and a magazine called “Teen Vogue” is all for it.