The New Revolution: A Summary of Unprotected

By Guillermo Moreno

Oct. 3, 2021

“How did we get here?” is the question posed by Donald J. Johnson, director of the documentary, Unprotected: The Untold Story of the Sexual Revolution, in the film’s trailer. He asks this question regarding how western culture has become toxic towards women in light of their widespread victimhood in sexuality, ranging from sexual objectification in pop culture, to peer pressure for sexual favors, to sexual assault. Women experience this toxicity from middle school and throughout their lives. As a father of daughters, Johnson set out to investigate the origins of this cancer in western society, and has produced this documentary featuring an ensemble cast of Catholic speakers to tell the part of the sexual revolution that shows how a disintegrated view of the human person, regarding sexuality, led to the true demise of equality between the sexes, deceitfully touting the opposite.

Unprotected tells the untold story of the sexual revolution in three Chapters: 1) Women, Sex, and the Search for Something More, 2) The Consequences, and 3) A Revolution of Love. This way, the film concisely provides the explanation of how the sexual revolution began and how it inevitably led to mainstream culture’s toxicity towards women. The film also explains the counter revolution, heralded by the Catholic Church, and this documentary will serve as an invaluable tool in this new revolution and in the New Evangelization.

The first chapter addresses the perennial question of women's role especially in the mid-twentieth century: ‘is this all?’ This question is asked in light of the predominant and practically default role that women would play as homemakers. Unprotected compassionately addresses women’s search for more, something beyond domestic life. It also gives a fair assessment of women’s plight in the workforce. Among the notable historical figures regarding the topic of feminism is Betty Friedan, founder of the National Organization for Women (NOW). The film, however, makes a key distinction in the movement for women’s so-called liberation: the women’s movement and the sexual revolution. In short, the women’s movement sought to free women from the confines of domestic life, while the sexual revolution sought to “liberate” women to indulge in sexuality by manipulating their fertility and to avoid conception. Friedan was initially prevalent in the women’s movement. Her contemporary in the sexual revolution, however, was Helen Gurly Brown, founder of Cosmopolitan magazine. And, of course, Margaret Sanger, their forerunner, was the founder of Planned Parenthood. Unprotected demonstrates in this first chapter that Friedan and Brown did not necessarily have the same goals, but a common denominator for them was the birth control pill. Approved by the FDA in 1960, the birth control pill permitted women to avoid conception so as to not only indulge in child-free sex, but it was also used by women in the workforce, for women were prone to getting fired for being pregnant.

Unprotected succinctly states that the common goal among feminists in these two intertwining movements was freedom from motherhood and from domestic life. At the same time, the common enemy was the Catholic Church. The film does provide facts regarding the pushback that advocates for birth control and abortion were receiving, and it was not exclusively from the Church. As for the Church’s teaching, however, the film explains the history of what led up to Humanae Vitae, Pope Paul VI’s encyclical, that affirmed the Church’s teaching that artificial birth control is sinful.

Chapter 2 addresses the results of decades following the advocacy for birth control, which is inherently anti-life, as well as advocacy for sexual indulgence outside of marriage. Unprotected addresses the question of whether or not women are better off now, as a result of the sexual revolution. The overwhelming evidence tells us that the answer is ‘no.’ The film provides a study by the University of Pennsylvania that says that women are less happier than men, despite the fact that there are more women in college and in the workforce now. The film also demonstrates that women are most stressed (along with millennials), especially middle-aged women.

 

Among the most drastic results of the sexual revolution is the increased divorce rate, which was predicted in Humanae Vitae. In the film, Christopher West, founder of the COR Project, provides a useful analogy for understanding the correlation between birth control and the divorce rate. He says that we need deterrents from doing things that we shouldn’t do, and an example is the increase of crime rates if jail time, the deterrent against committing crimes, was taken away. In the same way, the natural deterrent preventing adultery was the possible conception of a child. But the deterrent was taken away and adultery therefore increased; a common reason for divorce is adultery.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse, founder of the Ruth Institute and author of The Sexual Revolution and Its Victims, and Leila Miller, author of Primal Loss: The Now-Adult Children of Divorce Speak, provide evidence demonstrating that women and children are the victims of divorce. Their findings would challenge anyone’s belief that divorce is a good thing in and of itself because the children who suffer from divorce are given a distorted message of love to begin with: that love can stop. This way, Unprotected offers an excellent critique of divorce and also of the notion that children are resilient.

 

The film also addresses single motherhood and single-parent households, providing statistics from the Pew Research Center. These rates have also increased dramatically since the 1960s. Leila Miller provides a paraphrase of a quote by Dr. Peter Kreeft, which looks at all of the detriment that comes from divorce (the broken families, the single-parent households, etc.), and states that if it were not that divorce touched on sex, then it would not be allowed. But it is about sex. Therefore, it’s allowed and affirmed.

Furthermore, abortion is the resort to failed contraception. Christopher West refers to the Supreme Court case, Planned Parenthood vs. Casey, to make the point that individuals would opt out for abortions in the cases in which contraception would fail, as it inevitably has. Then, Jennifer Fulwiler, host of the Jennifer Fulwiler Show and author of One Beautiful Dream, refers to Planned Parenthood’s own major source, the Guttmacher Institute, providing disturbing statistics; contraceptive use correlates with increased rates of contraceptive failure over the span of ten years: a 70% chance of experiencing an unwanted pregnancy. Fulwiler also testifies that she knew many women who consistently used contraceptives and eventually had an unwanted pregnancy, and these women felt that they had no choice but to resort to abortions due to the contraceptive failure. Sue Ellen Browder, a former writer for Cosmopolitan and author of Subverted, also shares her testimony about the time when her contraception failed (due to her doctor’s negligence about proper instructions). Due to her and her husband’s circumstances, they decided to get an abortion, claiming that it was the worst decision of their lives.

Unprotected then refers to the concept of ‘heartbroken career women,’ coined by Dr. Morse. This is the result of women putting off having babies for later in life in order to prioritize their careers. A stat shows that 40% of women near their child-rearing years have less children than they would have preferred. Not surprisingly, there is an increase in IVF children. Dr. Benjamin Wiker, a professor at Franciscan University and author of In Defense of Nature, states that since procreation has been severed from sex, there is then the two-fold phenomena of having sex through any means for any end and having babies by any means for any end.

Two final concepts in Chapter 2 of Unprotected, which assess how relationships between the sexes have changed and become sexually toxic are campus chaos and pornification. The former concept succinctly describes the hook-up culture on college campuses, in which women are led to believe that by contracepting, they are being empowered and are in control, when in actuality, they become the instruments of pleasure for men. Dr. Mark Regnerus, a professor at the University of Texas and author of Cheap Sex, explains that while a woman became in control of her fertility, the man became in charge of the pace at which the relationship became sexual. Authentic loving relationships would be impossible in such a culture.

The latter concept describes the sexual objectification of women and men’s resort to pornography. Jennifer Fulwiler observes how Pope Paul VI predicted the objectification of women by men because of contraception in Humanae Vitae, and Fulwiler shares her testimony of reading Humanae Vitae while having magazines with immodestly dressed women in sight, and finding that the origin of the objectification of women happened at the same time as society’s acceptance of artificial contraception. Furthermore, pornography itself becomes prevalent. Patrick Coffin, host of The Patrick Coffin Show and author of The Contraception Deception, traces the history of pornography, demonstrating the relationship between the development of porn and the acceptance of birth control. Lastly, porn is described as a prime factor in the causes of divorce, and that it makes men less dateable, since so many men opt out for sexual pleasure through this easiest of means rather than pursuing relationships and marriage and building families. Even worse, due to the dissociation of sexual pleasure from sexual relationships with women, men could seek sexual pleasure any other way than with a woman, as Dr. Wiker and Christopher West explain.

 

The final chapter in Unprotected is a much needed beacon of hope. Titled ‘A Revolution of Love,’ and being the longest chapter in the documentary, it describes the emergence of the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage namely through Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body. Patrick Coffin explains how JPII’s initial work on the topic of sex and marriage, Love and Responsibility, providentially emerged at the same time as the birth control pill. Unprotected thus sets out to do what JPII did in answer to a perennial question within the walls of the Catholic Church: how do we make the Church’s teaching attractive?[1] The cast in the film thus proceeds to highlight key points from JPII’s teaching, such as that sex cannot be separated from love, the body cannot be separated from the soul, and that the Church proclaims the dignity of the human person in her teaching on sexuality. Damon Owens, executive director of Joy TOB, for example, explains that the opposite of love is to use another person because, according to JPII’s definition of love, love is self-gift and trusting oneself to the other, and the opposite of that is to take from the other for one’s own self, and to separate and protect oneself from that other person rather than to entrust oneself to him or her.

Unprotected critiques feminism in the sexual-liberal sense of the word: mainstream culture has lied to women about what it means to be free and how to achieve true happiness. Separating fertility from sex and sex from marriage for the sake of preventing life and for sexual indulgence is a far cry from our nature as men and women. Feminism failed to truly empower women. Fidelity to our design is what will satisfy both men and women. Truly, sin inhibits our happiness and freedom in the forms of lust, pride, and all of the sins that prompt us to choose anything over God’s plan.

 

But then, a typical question or objection is whether women are therefore expected to just become homemakers after all. Dr. Carrie Gress, author of Ultimate Makeover: The Transforming Power of Motherhood, points out a fallacy in this argument, stating that the objection is an opposite extremity. Furthermore, she critiques the bias behind this objection and argument; we already know that women are capable of having careers, but critics of chastity imply that the Church necessarily implies otherwise, but this is false. We must therefore revert to the questions of what really stirs our hearts, which revolve around love and family, and the Church’s teaching on sex and marriage answers these kinds of questions.

Another typical question or objection is whether couples are expected to have dozens of children. Unprotected thus introduces the viewers to Natural Family Planning (NFP), which, paraphrasing Jennifer Fulwiler, is an alternative lifestyle rather than an alternative to contraception; NFP is a sacrifice-based method of spacing children, due to abstaining from intercourse during the fertile periods. Dr. Donald Asci, a professor at Franciscan University, explains that birth control expresses that the contracepting individuals say to one another that he/she is not worth waiting for; they are not worth sacrificing oneself for. Then, Damon Owens explains that our culture has been trained to view love through the lens of sex, which is like looking at binoculars the wrong way; we should understand sex through the lens of love, and that sex is a particular expression of love. The false idea is that one gets love through sex. 

This calls for a paradigm shift for a culture of life. Ultimately, especially in critique of feminism in the sexual-liberal sense, women’s search for meaning is fulfilled by authentic human love, which is not contrary to pursuing careers, but it is contrary to the causes and the effects of contraception; it is contrary to a contraceptive mindset and culture. Unprotected strives to pinpoint the origins of this culture that is toxic to women, highlights the milestones, shows the effects, and provides the cure, which is inseparable from God and his Church. In conclusion, a quote by St. John Paul II, that succinctly describes the truly human and Catholic response, and cure, to this culture of death, and to our continuous temptation to sexual sin: “God... assigns the dignity of every woman as a task to every man.”

 

Endnotes

[1] Catholic speaker Jason Evert shares in this documentary that Bishop Darcy of Indiana asked JPII this question, to which the latter answered that it is necessary to understand the soul of the woman.

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