Last week I compiled a list of cities I think are the most harmful to a person’s Catholic faith. I put Cambridge, Massachusetts on that list because it is home to Harvard University.
Harvard, in their choice of faculty and through the scholarship those faculty produce, has indicated that it has next to no interest in advancing principles similar to those taught by the Catholic Church.
That being the case, I was astonished to read an op-ed on the pages of USA Today last month wherein a Harvard student forcefully argued against the views her classmates, and ostensibly her professors, have towards casual sex.
In her essay, Harvard sophomore Lisa J. Mogilanski explains why she’s “uncomfortable with the hookup culture” that dominates college life.
“Hookup culture seems like a perversion of what human relationships ought to be,” Mogilanski argues. “[It] seems, at best, preposterous and, at worst, in very poor taste…It’s even lauded as liberating for women.”
“But I’ve asked myself…whether enthusiastic sex positivity doesn’t come with its own host of negative pressures. For one, it isn’t the boys who need to be encouraged to have sex. It seems likely that hookup culture makes some girls do things they’d otherwise prefer not to.”
“I don’t mean to suggest that we had romance ‘right’ in the days of chastity belts and arranged marriages,” Mogilanksi continues. “But I feel as though we all sort of know how romance ought to play out. Hookup culture is an unnavigable mush of vague intentions and desires.”
Responses to Ms. Mogilanski’s accurate portrayal of the hookup culture have been vitriolic and, as expected, non-substantive. Nobody, it seems, wants to tolerate a dissenting opinion when it comes to childless-free sex.
Cursory research suggests Ms. Mogilanski is no arch-conservative either. Her columns for the Harvard Crimson scarcely mention politics and when I tried to find out more about her I had a tough time discovering anything else she has written. It seems as though she’s just a regular student who sees the danger associated with a culture that can’t resist the temptation of the flesh.
What Mogilanski says in her essay echoes what Catholic author Colleen Carroll Campbell told me in an interview several months ago. “The decline of courtship and rise of the hook-up culture certainly hasn’t benefited women,” Campbell remarked. “I don’t think it’s done favors for either sex, but women have particularly borne the brunt of the low expectations and fear of commitment it encourages.”
As spot-on as Ms. Mogilanski may be, just because one student at Harvard publically expresses her discomfort with her generation’s attitudes toward sex, doesn’t mean we’re on the cusp of a sea change in views towards marriage and respect for the unborn. Recall that Plan B “emergency contraception” was just approved for over-the-counter use and that over the past several years more and more school boards have been dolling out birth control pills to their teenage and elementary school students.
Ms. Mogilanski’s opinion is welcome news, and it may open some people’s eyes to the spiritual decay taking place among young adults, but the battle to instill a culture that respects women, not only on college campuses but in society writ large, is far from over.