A Slightly Disordered Script

Life got too busy to post for a while, but I think I’m back.  This beginning of a post at Sunshine Mary’s reminded me of a thought I’d had before:

Once upon a time, for most of human history, this is how it worked: a boy saw a girl he liked, he indicated his interest, they had some form of courtship, they got married, and then they had sex and got on with life.

Looking at my own family, and rural people in the past in general, I think the script was slightly different:

A boy saw a girl he liked, he indicated his interest, they had some form of courtship, they became engaged or at least exclusive to the point where everyone saw them as a couple, they had sex, she got pregnant, and they got married and got on with life.

Now, obviously that’s not the approved scriptural way to do it.  But it’s what seems to have happened a lot of the time, because healthy young people are horny and haylofts afford privacy.  It usually worked out okay because of two attitudes prevalent in society up until recently:

1. Marriage is about commitment and raising children, not about the pursuit of personal bliss.

2. You break it, you bought it.

So it’s not that everyone was a virgin on his or her wedding night prior to 1967.  People weren’t perfect.  But those who didn’t wait until the ceremony were usually having sex with someone they were willing, or even planning, to marry.  So when the rabbit died, they could see that as a sign — the decision had been made for them, and it was time to get on with life.

The problem is that older people who remember that simpler time extrapolate that to today’s hookup culture as if they have anything to do with each other.  They don’t.  It’s one thing to sleep with a guy when you’ve been seeing each other for six months, your families have known each other for years, and your dad has already talked to him about taking him into the family business.  It’s quite another to sleep with a guy you met two hours ago at a party.  Yes, they’re both sinful; but as a practical matter, one is like eating your dessert before your meal, while the other is like eating nothing but desserts and rejecting healthy meals entirely.  You can “get away with” the former, confessing the sin and going on to have a good life with the person.  The latter is unlikely to bring you anything but trouble and emptiness.

When older people say, “Well, I was 3 months pregnant when we got married, so it seems hypocritical to tell girls they shouldn’t hookup in college,” that’s just stupid.  They’re talking about two completely different things.  They might as well say, “Well, I smoked a little pot in college, so I don’t feel right taking that crack pipe away from my kid.”


5 thoughts on “A Slightly Disordered Script

  1. I’ve posted this before on other blogs but I think it’s kind of relevant here.

    The great majority of Western women apparently want men to behave in the SMP as if it was still 1983. These women are basically average, they don’t openly subscribe to either feminism or traditionalism, although they are de facto feminists. Susan Walsh and her readers fall into this category. Their male relatives basically have the same view, because they don’t want their daughters, sisters etc. get burned in the SMP.

    There is a sizable minority of Westerners who want men to behave in the SMP as if it was still 1953. These are the Churchians, the Cafeteria Catholics and so on.

    That’s pretty much the only difference between them. Their underlying mentality of gynocentrism, gynonormativity and male disposability is the same. From a man’s point of view, they are all the same. The only exception is the very small minority of dedicated gender equalists, namely some feminists and MRAs, who actually promote REAL gender equality in terms of rights and responsibilities, plus another small minority of devout religionists who think both sexes should return to traditionalist sexual norms.

  2. I think many people even want both: they want the freedom (and relative innocence compared to today) of the 1980s for women, but the responsibilities and chivalry of the 1950s from men. But as you say, whatever camp they’re in, the underlying belief that drives them is the supposed spiritual and moral superiority of women.

  3. I really enjoyed this post. My mom was raised in a small town in the Midwest. Born in 1950, graduated high school in 1968. She explained things “back in the old days” to me once and her description was much like yours.
    Premarital sex wasn’t that uncommon, but it was amongst couples who had been dating a long time , were committed and on a track to marriage.
    Unlike today, where you hook up at a party or it’s taken for granted you’ve slept with someone if you’ve gone on more than a few dates with them.

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