Morals: The Second Sexual Revolution

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twelve-year-olds, and "going steady" at ever younger ages. American youngsters tend to live as if adolescence were a last fling at life, rather than a preparation for it. Historian Arnold Toynbee, for one, considers this no laughing matter, for part of the modern West's creative energy, he believes, has sprung from the ability to postpone adolescents' "sexual awakening" to let them concentrate on the acquisition of knowledge.

Most significant of all, the age-old moral injunctions are less readily accepted by the young—partly because they sense that so many parents don't really believe in them either.

Crisis of Virginity. "Nice girls don't" is undoubtedly still the majority view, but definitely weakening, as is "No nice boy will respect you if you go to bed with him." A generation ago, college boys strayed off campus to seek out professionals; today they are generally looked down on if they can't succeed with a coed.

In a way, the situation is the logical consequence of U.S. attitudes toward youth. In other societies, the young are chaperoned and restricted because it is assumed, human nature being what it is, that if they are exposed to temptation they will give in. The U.S., on the other hand, has set the young free, given them cars, given them prosperity —and yet still expects them to follow the rules. The compromise solution to this dilemma has long been petting, or "making out," as it is now known, which the U.S. did not invent but has carried to extreme lengths.

Now there are signs of resentment against a practice that overstimulates but blocks fulfillment. The resentment, however, is taking forms that alarm many parents. In a sweeping generalization, Dr. Blaine reports that "Radcliffe girls think petting is dirty because it is teasing. They feel if you are going to do that, it is better just to have intercourse." This may apply to some, but, as Harvard's President Pusey reported in a speech last week, 80% of Radcliffe girls get degrees with honors, "so they can't do all that running around they're supposed to."

Many girls are still sincere and even lyrical about saving themselves for marriage, but it is becoming a lot harder to hold the line. There is strong pressure not only from the boys but from other girls, many of whom consider a virgin downright square. The loss of virginity, even resulting in pregnancy, is simply no longer considered an American Tragedy. Says one student of the American vernacular: "The word virgin is taking on a slightly new meaning. It seems acceptable to consider a girl a virgin if she has had experience with only her husband before marriage, or with only one or two steadies." At a girls' college in Connecticut, one coed recently wrote a poem about the typical Yale man which concluded:

And so I yield myself completely to him.

Society says I should.

Damn society!

Talk of the Pill. Some girls are bothered to the point of consulting analysts when they find that having an affair makes them uneasy; since everyone is telling them that sex is healthy, they feel guilty about feeling guilty. Some girls, says an Atlanta analyst, "are disturbed because they are no longer able to use fear of pregnancy as an excuse for chastity." In many parts of the country, physicians

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