The ‘True-Love’ Revolution

Marin Cohn

Products of the 1960s generation, many students today find themselves naturally inclined towards certain liberal ideals. Certainly in terms of acceptance and toleration, our generation is generally open; it is difficult to shock us or make us feel uncomfortable and generally there isn’t something we haven’t already seen on the internet or TV. Consequently, with the prevalence of sexualized television shows and music videos our culture has become so hyper-sexualized that what was once sacred its pageantry lowbrow has become the norm. Such an ideology moreover has seeped deeper than simply affecting our social and political thoughts. It has likewise become part of the mainstream ideology of our time, a tenant of our culture and part of how we look and define our relationships.

When looking at dating in the 1950s, where sex was taboo and dating consisted of going on actual dates rather than drunkenly stumbling upon one-another at the Jug; in comparison our culture today is essentially defined by sex. Sexual acceptance, sexual liberation the flags of the 1960s generation are no longer revolutionary, but accepted as the norm. In fact, it has become a liberal idea even a conventional feminist notion that control of one’s body means the freedom to have sex without consequences, with whomever you choose. For most of us, abstinence in turn seems to be an outdated religious notion, associated with a small town in West Virginia where the preacher himself will send you directly to hell if you give in to those “sinful sexual urges”.

Recently, however, instead of promulgating with religious fervor (though still present for many), a new intellectual group at Harvard, ‘The True Love Revolution’, has begun advocating an altogether new rationale against premarital sex… abstinence not in the name of safety or morality…but in the name of true love itself. Love, the holy-grail of the 1960s, the very reason and purpose of the sexual revolution now associated with abstinence and fighting against one’s natural urges? Suddenly our liberalized light bulbs start flashing. But, what about love? The true-love revolution in fact argues that abstinence is the only way of really achieving true-love, citing physical and emotional rationales in waiting for “the one”. Trumpeting scientific evidence, sighting oxytocin the hormone women release at birth, during breast feeding and sex which emits feelings of love and devotion involuntarily; the group contends against multiple partners and the danger of sharing the experience with more than one.

As such, the very name “true love revolution” holds strong implications. Does the free sex and love of our parents’ generation, the philosophy of mind which we generally prescribe to, prevent us from finding love? Has the notion become antiquated, left to Shakespeare and Milton without a place in modern life? The argument can indeed be made that there is no place for love when everyone seems to be on the fast track towards success. Surely it is not economically feasible to have to consider someone else’s needs in addition to your own. Moreover, suddenly being a bachelor has become more acceptable, a single woman is no longer seen as “an old hag”, but as an accepted member of society. Yet, the notion of ‘love’ seems nevertheless absolutely human, essential and integral to our very happiness, “it is better to have loved and lost then never loved at all”.

So, what to do? How do we weight these two contrary notions of humanness and modernity? Have we strayed from the aspirations of the free love generation, away from John Lennon and the Beatles, focusing more upon the ‘sex’ than the ‘love’? Given the plethora of books, movies and songs about finding love, I would say that it is hard to imagine that we no longer believe in its centrality. The acquisition of love is moreover essential in our culture, a considerable signifier in what it is to be happy, “money can’t buy love” goes hand in hand with a plethora of other accepted notions.

However, there is something to be said for this ‘true love revolution’; for something that is perhaps lost. Why is it that there are so many self-help books on love, so many e-harmony websites with people thirsting to find someone to share their lives with? Perhaps to some extent our sexualized culture has contributed to the loss of sanctity, unintentionally de-valuing love and rather exalting the pretty colors and superficial pleasures associated with free sex. In turn, perhaps our liberal notions and have prevented us from truly connecting with another. Maybe our anything-goes acceptance, juxtaposing freedom of choice with freedom of sexual partners, has really ultimately led us astray. Similar to the ideology behind “bring back the date”, perhaps the implications of such a group can help to enlighten us in regard to the practices we often take for granted as “the norm”. Is there a balance between sex and love, or has our culture worked to almost completely obliterate it? In a hyper-sexualized society, contingent with the ‘true love revolution’, has abstinence become the requisite for finding love?