The Clare Spark Blog

October 3, 2012

The Sexual Revolution (2)

In part one of this miniseries on the “sexual revolution” said to have been accomplished during the second wave of feminism, I retrieved an ad from an upscale magazine distributed free to my neighborhood in Southern California (see, and its lookalike Don’t miss this painting showing how New Women as mothers transmit their demonism to their closely held sons!). It was obviously a backlash to the “liberated women” of the 1920s, taken from a Belgian artist who viewed the new woman as creating Pierrots out of their sons, emasculated doubles of themselves. Mother became puppeteer, turning the male child into a zany figure from the Commedia d’el Arte: Pierrot was a mask for Cain, a fratricide; while some saw Pierrot as feminized, the outsider who could never escape his mother’s influence. He was in the eternal grip of Mother, revealed now as Femme Fatale. (For more on this theme see The Mother figure in Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture is no heroine.)

Yesterday, Oct. 2, 2012, the Obama campaign created an e-card directed to the female voters, depicting a flapper with the message “Vote like your lady parts depended on it.” The image was taken down before the end of the day, but it revealed the primary message of still-regnant second wave feminism: the liberation of women signified nothing but sex and the loose morals we associate with the Jazz Age, notwithstanding the recent passage of women’s voting rights. It is true that for many women, single and married alike, the need to control the timing of reproduction is not a “single issue,” but one at the forefront of  consciousness, for her economic status and life chances depend on controlling the timing of reproduction. But to propose, as the Obama campaign clearly did, that a Republican victory would mean regression to the bad old days is, in my view, absurd and objectively unproven as a claim.

On the popular Fox show The Five (Oct.2, 2012), Bob Beckel chided Dana Perino and Andrea Santaros for seeing Gloria Steinem as a washed-up feminist, implying that Steinem had paved the way for the cushy jobs enjoyed by Perino and Santaros at Fox. This sent me back into my memory bank. Gloria Steinem was indeed a much publicized star of the second wave. A strikingly beautiful young woman, she was considered “a babe” and was also known for her connection to powerful male editors in journalism. It is true that second wave feminists had an enormous impact on the culture, but the takeaway was 1. sexual freedom, even promiscuity as the central demand of “women’s lib” and 2. having emerged from the civil rights movement, many of the 1960s-70s feminists soon subordinated their goal of liberating women to anti-imperialism, joining with men in the anticapitalist crusade, and of course, ignoring the subordination of women in South America, the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. The West was now worst, and “white male supremacy” the enemy for right-on feminists. (For a related blog see

But Beckel forgot a major fact of history: It was 19th century feminists of the first wave who were the original trail blazers, and their crusades on behalf of votes for women were linked to abolition, higher education for (excluded) women, entrance into the professions, temperance, and the uplift of prostitutes. Such were the “middle class puritans” decried later on by bohemians as Victorian battle axes. (Some of their number included Lucy Stone, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Stady Stanton, Harriet Beacher Stowe, the Grimké sisters, Louisa May Alcott, Julia Ward Howe, and more.) The most important writers after the Great War fled this menacing figure, running off to the South Seas or, better, Harlem, Paris, Italy, and Spain. Gangsta rappers of today partake of the same bohemian reaction to middle-class mothers and to emancipated women in general. as all women became “bitches.” (See illustration in the first of this series.)

Herbert Marcuse was correct when he warned of “repressive desublimation.” The fashion and cosmetic industry, plastic surgeons, hair stylists, and a host of women’s magazines urged  all women to cultivate their sexual attractiveness, even into old age. The sex could be dark, as fashion photographer Bruce Weber and others eroticized the submission to male fetishes, for instance, stiletto heels. (For a more extended commentary on the regnant S-M, see On the link between misogyny and antisemitism see

What then, has been the effect on young women and girls? The Hollywood celebrities today have come out for Obama and for sex. Their innocence lies solely in their ignorance of the past. Along with the bohemian authors of the 1920s and afterwards, they have gone native, in flight from everything that the first wave feminists advocated. Can we sink any lower? (For more on the first wave feminists of the 19th Century, see

Frida with cat

Frida Kahlo with cat in classic come hither position


  1. “But to propose, as the Obama campaign clearly did, that a Republican victory would mean regression to the bad old days is, in my view, absurd and objectively unproven as a claim.”

    Would you like some ketchup with those words?

    Comment by TerryThePirate — June 6, 2020 @ 11:17 am | Reply

  2. […] is true that the wave of feminism coming out of the New Left has concentrated on sexual liberation (, but most women would probably agree that males are in dire need of “civilizing” and that male […]

    Pingback by My flagging sense of “propriety” | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — November 11, 2017 @ 7:14 pm | Reply

  3. […] It is a mystery to many in the media why Democrats and Independents don’t “care” about Hillary’s past improprieties or crimes. In my view, they are ignoring the obvious: younger women are either happily promiscuous or on the marriage market often requiring a prolonged period of testing in bed. Hence, the conservatives’ taboo against abortion and contraception falls on deaf ears, unlike many older married women, especially evangelicals and Catholics. Indeed, the Democrat Party is not shy about emphasizing sexuality in their pitches to “the women’s vote” or to gays, including those bound permanently to domineering mothers. ( and […]

    Pingback by Sex and Aggression in Hillary’s following in either gender | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — June 9, 2016 @ 6:54 pm | Reply

  4. […] Keith Thomas, the late British historian, argued that modernity and puritanism elevated the status of women in marriage. So-called feminist art betrays its critical promise by reducing women to their sex organs.  Men got there first. [On how the Democratic Party has co-opted feminism see […]

    Pingback by Female genitals as Red Flag | YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — December 1, 2013 @ 9:00 pm | Reply

  5. […] 2.Lena Dunham was educated at progressive Oberlin, and before that, in a progressive artsy school, St. Anne’s in Brooklyn. She must have been exposed to the “postmodern” world of academe that touted transgressiveness as the standard for high art or moral seriousness. In other words, a true rebel once again shouted “Merdre” at the [Jewified] bourgeoisie (see Alfred Jarry, Ubu Roi). This cri de c0eur is old and tired, and in a world where the vanguard has yielded to primitivism, minimalism, and other forms of moral suicide masquerading as self-sacrifice, or a leap into the unknown, or worse, pseudo-solidarity with the oppressed, I wonder what mores remain to be flouted? For more on this theme, see […]

    Pingback by GIRLS, or, the new lost generation « YDS: The Clare Spark Blog — October 30, 2012 @ 5:09 pm | Reply

  6. Well,I am a mathematician and they seem towards the lower to middle of the spectrum on intelligence.But it may be an act as I read that Americans on the whole don’t like highly intelligent politicians.That’s what we read here.I don’t expect philosophers but Palin scarcely new where Russia was and the UK!!And Romney seems a bit lacking to me,,, ..Why can’t they find someone a bit brighter to stand?Is it the money?
    I so agree with you about promiscuity and back street abortions.

    Comment by katzideas — October 4, 2012 @ 8:27 am | Reply

    • If you saw the first Presidential debate last night, you might change your mind about Romney’s intelligence.

      Comment by clarespark — October 4, 2012 @ 2:39 pm | Reply

      • Yes,I think so.My husband saw it.I’ve had flu so was in bed.
        My husband said he was came over better…
        I just want the best for the world as the USA is so important for all our futures.

        Comment by katzideas — October 4, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

  7. All I can say is Mitt Romney does not seem very intelligent to me.And that is what would swing my vote… same with Sarah Palin.. she was uneducated in key areas of geography and politics.I don’t like the sound of this advert though.It seems like everything is sinking lower…. including politicians’ brain functioning.Obama seems more intelligent….. but do Americans want that?Bush was not so bright that way either.Just call me critical.,but i like a few brains in people in these jobs.The ad is a minor distraction to me…but it will be the case that abortion laws and access to contraception will be changed by Republicans…I don’t go for it but here in the UK we thought it was the lesser of two evils as so many women were dying fro, illegal abortions…very tough life for women. As I’m not from the USA my views are not relevant..I can’t do anything

    Comment by katzideas — October 3, 2012 @ 8:34 pm | Reply

    • I don’t agree that Romney and Palin are stupid. Nor do I think that there is any intention on the Right to overturn Roe vs. Wade. But even if some do, I think that cultural pluralism suggests that the issue should be turned back to the states. The U.S. is heavily divided over the issue. I personally don’t want back alley abortions for anyone. I also think that women have been idiots to sleep around just to please male egos. Promiscuity was all the rage during the 1960s-70s here, and it was hell for women, which some realized when it was way too late.

      Comment by clarespark — October 3, 2012 @ 8:42 pm | Reply

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