We are in the middle of a profound shift in our attitude towards sex. A sexual counter-revolution, if you will. And whereas the 1960s saw a freeing up of attitudes towards sex, pushing at boundaries, this counter-swing is turning sexual freedom into sexual fear, and nearly all sexual opportunities into a legalistic minefield.
The rules are being redrawn with little idea of where the boundaries of this new sexual utopia will lie and less idea still of whether any sex will be allowed in the end.
It is partly whipped along by the fact that each episode in the revolution is so grimly fascinating, and each has its own internal propulsions. For instance, nobody outside Hollywood could regret the disgrace of an overpraised toad who spent far too long surrounded by overly attractive people. After Harvey Weinstein’s downfall, who could not enjoy the resulting sweep of Tinseltown for DNA evidence — or mere hearsay — exposing that whole rotten, preachy, liberal façade?
Since then the exhilarating and powerful weapon of social media has whipped this along in every unpredictable direction. A journalist from GQ magazine was given the heave-ho after that famously prim publication learned that he had made an ungallant pass some years ago at a lady who was not his wife. How that hack’s opponents and competitors rubbed their hands with glee. Around the same time, a preachy hack from a left-wing website was found to have behaved grimly with women and his career too was dashed to the floor by people high on the octane of unreflective moral outrage.
This week the urge to purge the pervs has turned on the Houses of Parliament, with stories about ‘the Weinsteins of Westminster’ moving from the blogosphere to the newspapers. So far this has centred on a list of 27 MPs alleged to have behaved inappropriately towards women and 13 towards men.