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AMA with Louise Perry, author of ‘The Case Against the Sexual Revolution’ - 14th July
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JuliaMumsnet · 12/07/2022 10:33

Hello

We’re pleased to announce an AMA with writer and campaigner Louise Perry in the wake of her new book The Case Against the Sexual Revolution. The thread is open for questions now and Louise will come on to answer them on Thursday and Friday.

Louise Perry is a columnist at the New Statesman, a features writer for the Daily Mail, and the Press Officer for the campaign group We Can’t Consent To This. More about Louise’s book:

“Ditching the stuffy hang-ups and benighted sexual traditionalism of the past is an unambiguously positive thing. The sexual revolution has liberated us to enjoy a heady mixture of erotic freedom and personal autonomy. Right?

Wrong, argues Louise Perry in her provocative new book. Although it would be neither possible nor desirable to turn the clock back to a world of pre-60s sexual mores, she argues that the amoral libertinism and callous disenchantment of liberal feminism and our contemporary hypersexualised culture represent more loss than gain. The main winners from a world of rough sex, hook-up culture and ubiquitous porn – where anything goes and only consent matters – are a tiny minority of high-status men, not the women forced to accommodate the excesses of male lust. While dispensing sage advice to the generations paying the price for these excesses, she makes a passionate case for a new sexual culture built around dignity, virtue and restraint.

This counter-cultural polemic from one of the most exciting young voices in contemporary feminism should be read by all men and women uneasy about the mindless orthodoxies of our ultra-liberal era.”

Please ask your questions from now - though the thread will be open until Louise has finished answering questions.

As always, please remember our guidelines - one question per user, follow-ups only if there’s time and most questions have been answered, and please keep it civil. Also if one topic is dominating a thread, mods might request that people don't continue to post what's effectively the same question or point. (We may suspend the accounts of anyone who continues after we've posted to ask people to stop, so please take note.) Rest assured we will ALWAYS let the guest know that it's an area of concern to multiple users and will encourage them to engage with those questions.

Many thanks,

MNHQ

AMA with Louise Perry, author of ‘The Case Against the Sexual Revolution’ - 14th July
AMA with Louise Perry, author of ‘The Case Against the Sexual Revolution’ - 14th July
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fgswhywouldIdothat · 12/07/2022 11:04

In your book you emphasise the physical and psychological differences between men and women - for example women's comparative physical weakness, their different sexual desires, their roles as mothers. To what extent is your book a backlash against pro-trans politics and the dematerialisation of bodies? You have called your brand of feminism post-liberal, but is this really just feminism for terfs?

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Brittani · 12/07/2022 11:04

I recently completed your book and throughly enjoyed it! I do have some questions, if you wouldn't mind:

  1. With your critique of the concept of consent, how would you legally define "rape" in light of this? Or is it still the same?

  2. Regarding Chapter 2 and evolutionary arguments; whilst I see an argument for men acting upon impulse (rather than a fallacious "lack of education"), could we really link rape with simply spreading genetic material? I don't think it would explain, for example, in wars or occupations where mass rapes have occured as simply reproduction? Would be interested in hearing more on this point.

  3. Not to sound like a bible-thumping preacher; but I noticed many of your solutions listed throughout and at the end of the book correlated with Islamic rulings; have you ever explored this dimension or plan to in the future?

    Thanks!
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Chattymumma · 12/07/2022 23:19

Where do you stand on the role of Christianity, and indeed other religions, who encourage sexual dignity, virtue and restraint? Do you correlate a decline in sexual morality with a decline in faith? Is it possible that a re-engagement with spirituality could renew our society's perspective on sex?

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RedDiamond · 12/07/2022 23:27

This message has been withdrawn at the poster's request

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bubblesbubbles11 · 13/07/2022 01:05

I like your ideas Louise Perry (from what I have read on google).

I am on a really tight budget.

What is the easiest/cheapest way for me to get your book please?

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bubblesbubbles11 · 13/07/2022 01:24

Did you really say on that interview "where Byonce goes we all follow". (like it put a ring upon it)

If yes. Hmmm.

I don't disagree with your ideas but how are you proposing to implement them in mainstream politics?

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SlowingDownAndDown · 13/07/2022 15:37

I agree that chivalry is generally a good thing. Misogynists tend to resist it. I enjoy telling people that ladies have social superiority but it doesn’t always go down too well. What are good ways to promote that idea? Is it actually desirable in work situations or does it interfere with people’s perceptions of equality?
In the past sex trumped age in terms of precedence. Would you want to go back to old men giving up their seats to young women, for example.

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bubblesbubbles11 · 14/07/2022 01:07

Louise Perry, how would you recommend coaching an adolescent teen girl through a UK school where the school's ideology is against gender critical thinking (i.e it as a Government backed and funded manefesto to - for example - introduce unisex toilets and unisex places where females used to be respected)? Where (potentially but not yet) boys will ask to be included in the girls sports events?

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MissusPongo · 14/07/2022 08:37

Hi Louise

I've bought your book and am looking forward to reading it.

I agree with the premise that the sexual revolution has benefited men more than women. However I worry that making a case for social change based on biologically-rooted differences between the sexes gives ammunition to those sexists who would like to see women back in the kitchen. There are plenty of people who would be glad of any reason to dismiss concerns over things like equal pay. It feels a bit like steering between Scylla and Charybdis. I'd be interested in your views.

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MissusPongo · 14/07/2022 08:39

MissusPongo · 14/07/2022 08:37

Hi Louise

I've bought your book and am looking forward to reading it.

I agree with the premise that the sexual revolution has benefited men more than women. However I worry that making a case for social change based on biologically-rooted differences between the sexes gives ammunition to those sexists who would like to see women back in the kitchen. There are plenty of people who would be glad of any reason to dismiss concerns over things like equal pay. It feels a bit like steering between Scylla and Charybdis. I'd be interested in your views.

Some men, I should say.

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boupdeflouff · 14/07/2022 08:40

Why do you choose to write pieces for the Daily Mail?

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ISaySteadyOn · 14/07/2022 08:41

I'd like an answer to that too @MissusPongo .

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Zerogravity · 14/07/2022 09:23

There aren't many questions on this thread but I just wanted to say I have ordered the book and it looks really interesting. Sadly, I won't have read it in time for today's chat! I am particularly interested in the relationship between feminism and christianity and other religions. As a lapsed Christian, I often feel that (liberal) feminism scorns any hint of women not wanting sex (or at least promiscuous sex) as a backlash to organized religion. Looking forward to reading your views.

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StillWeRise · 14/07/2022 09:37

I'd be interested to know if you think there was a golden moment, where women were freed (or free-er) from reproductive and cultural limits on their sexuality, yet we hadn't reached the excesses we face today. Do you think it was an inevitable downward slide? And if you could imagine the sexual revolution without the subsequent IT/SM revolution, would that have mitigated the harms ?

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PacificState · 14/07/2022 16:58

Hello - I love your column in the New Statesman and seeing/hearing you in the media. Thank you for being such a good advocate.

What's your take on how issues around violence against women play out in UK party politics? Would you ever endorse a political party? Do you think Labour tends to be stronger on VAW than the conservatives (or the other way around of course) or do you think it comes down to handful of genuinely committed MPs in various different parties?

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louisemperry · 14/07/2022 20:07

Hi everyone, thanks for all of the interesting questions posted so far! I've got a cup of tea in hand and a toddler who is (apparently) sleeping soundly, so will work sequentially through as many questions as possible over the next hour or so, then return tomorrow evening for more

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Legrandsophie · 14/07/2022 20:14

I haven’t read the book yet (sorry) but do read your articles and follow you on Twitter.

How far do you think the rush to embrace sexual liberation was influence by capitalism (since it very much was an American invention) and how much of what we see as liberal attitudes to sex in the modern media is merely commodification?

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CherrySocks · 14/07/2022 20:32

If you were to answer this just in bullet points on the back of an envelope:
What practical action steps can be taken to improve matters on all the issues you raise?
And at what level can action steps best be taken? eg by individuals, by campaigning groups, by schools, through government policy, and even globally?

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louisemperry · 14/07/2022 20:44

fgswhywouldIdothat · 12/07/2022 11:04

In your book you emphasise the physical and psychological differences between men and women - for example women's comparative physical weakness, their different sexual desires, their roles as mothers. To what extent is your book a backlash against pro-trans politics and the dematerialisation of bodies? You have called your brand of feminism post-liberal, but is this really just feminism for terfs?

Spoke too soon re the soundly sleeping toddler.... half an hour of settling later...

So I don't actually write about the trans movement in 'The Case Against the Sexual Revolution', aside from a brief mention of trans athletes in sports, but I have written about it elsewhere, most often in the New Statesman. Although I obviously think that trans people have a right to be protected from violence, employment discrimination, housing discrimination, etc. I'm not on board with the efforts to trivialise the physical differences between the sexes, nor the efforts to destroy women only spaces. I am a terf, in short, and unapologetically so.

I didn't write about the trans movement in this book mostly because there are so many other excellent books that do so, including 'Material Girls' by Kathleen Stock (who wrote my foreword) and 'Trans' by Helen Joyce. I take their conclusions as read. The existence of profound physical differences between the sexes is fundamental to my argument. I'm not doing any of that "people who get pregnant" nonsense.

It's worth pointing out here that I also disagree with most radical feminists on the blank slate doctrine, i.e. the idea that all of the average differences in personality and behaviour between the sexes are the result of socialisation (particularly during childhood) and therefore eradicable. In my second chapter ('Men and Women are Different') I lay out the evidence for some of these average differences being innate - average being the crucial word here, since there are plenty of outliers (and, needless to say, I don't think that those outliers should be channelled towards irreversible hormonal and surgical treatments that supposedly "fix" their gender nonconformity)

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louisemperry · 14/07/2022 20:58

Brittani · 12/07/2022 11:04

I recently completed your book and throughly enjoyed it! I do have some questions, if you wouldn't mind:

  1. With your critique of the concept of consent, how would you legally define "rape" in light of this? Or is it still the same?

  2. Regarding Chapter 2 and evolutionary arguments; whilst I see an argument for men acting upon impulse (rather than a fallacious "lack of education"), could we really link rape with simply spreading genetic material? I don't think it would explain, for example, in wars or occupations where mass rapes have occured as simply reproduction? Would be interested in hearing more on this point.

  3. Not to sound like a bible-thumping preacher; but I noticed many of your solutions listed throughout and at the end of the book correlated with Islamic rulings; have you ever explored this dimension or plan to in the future?

    Thanks!

I'm glad you enjoyed it! On your questions:

  1. I think the current legal definition of rape is fine – or, at least, I can't see a workable alternative. I argue in the book that consent is a bare minimum requirement, rather than an ideal: it's quite possible for someone to legally consent to sex that is also degrading/upsetting/harmful, because it's really a very low bar. That's why a system of sexual ethics that relies solely on consent isn't good enough.
  2. I'm afraid it is possible to pair the claim that rape is adaptive with the observation that mass rape during wartime is very common (probably the norm). War brings chaos and lawlessness, which provide a lot of opportunities for would-be rapists to act on their aggressive impulses.
  3. I'm shamefully ignorant on Islamic theology and history, sorry! And have arrived at my conclusions from priors that are both secular and feminist. I think the reason that some (only some!) of my conclusions have also been reached by other religious/ideological traditions through history is because liberal feminism is very unusual in denying the existence of sexual asymmetry.
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louisemperry · 14/07/2022 21:12

Chattymumma · 12/07/2022 23:19

Where do you stand on the role of Christianity, and indeed other religions, who encourage sexual dignity, virtue and restraint? Do you correlate a decline in sexual morality with a decline in faith? Is it possible that a re-engagement with spirituality could renew our society's perspective on sex?

A point I make in the book is that the ancient religious traditions were developed in societies that had radically different material conditions to our own, e.g. very high mortality rates, no reliable contraception, the constant threat of starvation. Their strictures might make sense within that context, but not necessarily within our own very different world.

That said, one feature of Christian sexual ethics that often gets forgotten by those who make (often entirely valid) criticisms of it, is the fact that Christianity takes a very unusual approach to the sexual double standard. In first century Roman society, the sexual abuse of low status women and boys (particularly slaves) was entirely accepted. No one would bat an eyelid at a man like Harvey Weinstein claiming sexual access to his 'inferiors'. In a slave society, buying sex was as cheap and easy as buying a loaf of bread, and male infidelity was entirely accepted. In that context, Christianity was wildly radical in the sense that it both condemned prostitution and demanded that both women and men be faithful to their spouses. In other words, it demanded sexual restraint of men – a bizarre idea to Romans. That's one of the reasons that early converts were mostly women.

I mention this, not because I think that traditional Christian sexual ethics should or could be transposed onto our own post-secular society, but because I'm trying to make the point that historical 'progress' isn't simple. A lot of feminists (particularly in America) have made the mistake of setting up a dichotomy between Christianity (bad! regressive!) and libertinism (good! progressive!), forgetting that there are a lot of other systems of sexual ethics available throughout time and place, many of which are a hell of a lot worse for women. My argument is that pressing the 'more freedom' lever again and again is not likely to lead us to utopia – rather, it's just as likely to lead us towards some much grimmer options.

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louisemperry · 14/07/2022 21:15

bubblesbubbles11 · 13/07/2022 01:05

I like your ideas Louise Perry (from what I have read on google).

I am on a really tight budget.

What is the easiest/cheapest way for me to get your book please?

The kindle edition is currently £10.44 on Amazon (you don't need a kindle to reader it, you can use your computer)

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SquirrelSoShiny · 14/07/2022 21:25

Darn I missed this

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louisemperry · 14/07/2022 21:25

bubblesbubbles11 · 13/07/2022 01:24

Did you really say on that interview "where Byonce goes we all follow". (like it put a ring upon it)

If yes. Hmmm.

I don't disagree with your ideas but how are you proposing to implement them in mainstream politics?

I think you're referring to my (lighthearted!) answer to a question about Beyonce

I'm guessing you mean that you're skeptical about the prospect of modern people choosing marriage en masse? You may be right, although as I write at the end of that Spectator essay:

"At times if feels as if young people are reaching towards the traditional notions of marriage without quite realising it. Take the group of American students who set up the ‘Affirmative Consent Project’ and marketed a ‘consent kit’, containing a condom, two breath mints, and a contract stating that the undersigned had agreed to have sex. Couples were encouraged to take a photo of themselves holding the signed piece of paper. (‘Why not invite family and friends to witness the signing?’ joked some. ‘Why not hire a professional photographer? Dress up? Make an event of it?’)

Or consider the feminist commentators who responded to the expected overturning of Roe v. Wade with the suggestion that men ought to be somehow legally bound to the women they impregnate and compelled to provide, not only financial, but also social and emotional support. Vice magazine recently announced a ‘new type of relationship’ called ‘radical monogamy’ that sounds very much like an old type of relationship. ‘Radical monogamy will offer a totally new portal to a joyful, healthy, magical kind of love’ promises one of its clueless proponents.

For all of its flaws, it seems that marriage as an institution has a way of reinventing itself. For better, for worse."

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louisemperry · 14/07/2022 21:26

SquirrelSoShiny · 14/07/2022 21:25

Darn I missed this

I'll be back tomorrow so you can still ask a question if you'd like to

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