“For Bush, conservatism strives to create a future by learning from the lessons of the past. ‘If there was ever need for a Bill Buckley-like approach to transforming conservatism in this country, it is right now,’ Bush noted, pointing to William F. Buckley, Jr.’s trademark brand of intellectual, no-nonsense debate. ‘When there is a breakdown of public discourse, everyone loses.'”

Amy Wax ’75, the Robert Mundheim Professor of Law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, addressed Buckley Fellows and guests on October 26th on the topic of “What Is Happening to the Family and Why?”. The following is one Fellow’s reflection on her talk.

Birth control destroyed marriage, according to Amy Wax (who cites Cheap Sex by Mark Regnerus). The advent of the pill has been the most significant change in incentive structure that has propelled the crumbling of marriage norms. Birth control came as a technological shock. The secular trend of female emancipation accelerated with the vote and with increased access to education, but that couldn’t have happened without reliable contraception. Birth control, after all, is what allowed women to participate in the workforce by allowing them to control their fertility.

Women have traditionally held the position of “gatekeeper” to sex. Women could set the terms for sex, terms with which men had to comply in order to access physical pleasure. These terms typically required men to be well-socialized enough to be a desirable marriage prospect. Put bluntly, most men had to get married or engaged to procure a steady supply of sex.