You all remember Eli Whitney, who invented the cotton gin in 1793. And you all remember Ron Popeil’s dad, Sam, who invented the Veg-O-Matic in 1963. You may not remember me, but, back in 1956, I invented sex.
I’m pretty sure about that. I know it was either me or Dickie Robertson.
When I saw what I had done, and knew that it was good, I did what any of your great inventors would have done. I ran around telling my friends. That was no easy sell. My friends had heard about sex, I suppose, but it was little more than a wispy rumor in the universe of their practical experience. Relatively speaking, sex was as likely to occur in their teenaged lives as a neighborhood basketball game was to be interrupted by an exploding asteroid.
Our parents never talked about sex. Never. By the time my old-school father brought it up, I had been married for six months. He seemed relieved when I told him I had it covered. The schools wouldn’t touch the subject with an eleven-foot pole. Back in the Fifties, government schools knew their place and it was rarely in loco parentis. Even TV and date-night movies paused the action at the bedroom door. The End. For those of us hungry for information of a bio-romantic sort, there was nowhere to turn but to the grapevine, which was every bit as reliable in those days as the Internet is today — a highly efficient vehicle for the distribution of fudge and fabulation.
Until I came along, that is, with that all-important, first-person testimony. I told my friends the good news in strict confidence, of course. None of them proved to be trustworthy. Word began to get around. In fact, it wasn’t long before everybody seemed to be talking about sex. There were newspaper columns, lads’ magazines, chatshows hosted by shrill women, how-to manuals, mediagenic therapists. I blame myself. Sex was clearly better than talking about sex.
But then, only a few decades later, people were talking about sex so much that, to serve the new constituency, an entire political party chose to dedicate itself to matters of sexual obsession.
The first time I encountered the new sexual politics was over the issue of women in combat. I confess that I never really understood the argument. Why would any society choose to field a fighting force that was, to a measurable degree, shorter, slower, and weaker? Wouldn’t that be the approach you hoped an ideologically deranged enemy would adopt? And then, after the concept gained traction and our military forces became partially feminized, there was the suggestion, never stated explicitly, that we would somehow feel better about ourselves while losing the marginal battle. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t have felt better.
In the sequence of my political experience, I then ran up against the people, largely of the sexually obsessed party, who support abortion, which is, to be no more than reportorial, the taking of one human’s life by another. In what seemed to be rapid progression, and well within the span of my own middle years, abortion went from being a crime to being a right; from being something that sent you to jail to something that could send you to Washington. In the question of abortion, of course, the advance of the new party did not end the debate or cause us to move on or anything of the sort. The ultimate questions of life and death can never be closed by transitory majority. But there was, and is, no denying the emotional reality: The temporary ascendancy of the abortion movement has been soul-chilling.