Written by Joan Fix
The Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF) is currently screening a new film, Unprotected, in parishes around Singapore. Unprotected is a must-see film for the youth (age 15 and over) and parents of young children, Catholics and non-Catholics alike. It helps make sense of the culture in which we’re living today, showing us how we got here and separating fact from myth on very sensitive topics.
The documentary film, Unprotected, is outstanding in its presentation of the history of the “sexual revolution”, fueled in the 1960’s by an increased media focus around contraception as a liberator of women and the solution for all the world’s problems. Through captivating interviews, moving personal stories and riveting statistical evidence, Unprotected traces the sexual revolution from 1960’s America to today, highlighting the indisputable role played by contraception and the unexpected outcome on women and society 50 years later.
According to the documentary, contraception was essential to the sexual revolution, and magazines such as Cosmopolitan used it to promote “sexual freedom” for women. According to Sue Ellen Browder, a former writer at Cosmopolitan, the magazine’s motto was “hard work and sex without the kids will set you free.” Ms. Browder recalls how the editor, Helen Gurley Brown, issued guidelines to her staff on “how to make up an expert” and write stories that appeared to show women having wonderful lives when in fact the stories were all lies. Ms. Browder recounts an example of such a story in which a woman meets a man on the Champs Elysées in Paris and helps him order a sandwich. They soon go back to the hotel, fall into bed and fall in love. The problem, as the writer explains, is that neither the woman nor the man existed in real life. The story was a complete fabrication; however, the reader was led to believe that it was a true story. It is said that “Cosmopolitan magazine was credited for separating more women from their virginity”, and it also led married women to leave their husbands for the hope of a romantic love affair.
Unprotected documents how key political and social figures earlier in the 20th century warned against the use of contraception. Sigmond Freud, the famous psychiatrist, said, “The abandonment of the reproductive function is the common feature of all perversions,” and Mahatma Gandhi observed that birth control, “made beasts out of men” and allowed men to use women for their own lustful purposes. Yet, by the late 1960’s, the Catholic Church was the only institution still condemning contraception.
The encyclical letter, Humanae Vitae, written by Pope Paul VI in 1968, was basically the most “counter-cultural” document of it’s time. It was mocked by nearly everyone, including some Catholic clergy, for saying that it’s not okay to break the connection between sex and babies. Humanae Vitae predicted that widespread use of contraception would lead to an increase in marital infidelity and divorce rates, that men would treat women as instruments for their own pleasure, and that public authorities would abuse contraception for the supposed good of the nation. Sadly, we need look no further than the current state of affairs in our society to know that Pope Paul VI was correct in his predictions.
According to the Singapore Department of Statistics, nearly 1 in 3 marriages ends in divorce today. This is double the divorce rate in Singapore in 1980.
According to a survey published in the Straits Times in 2016, “nine in every 10 teenage boys in Singapore have watched or read sexually explicit materials…with some first exposed to it even before they start primary school.”
If this statistic weren’t bad enough, the article goes on to quote the CEO of a company that conducts talks in Singapore schools and camps. He said, “Pornography is a given, but we should start getting worried about the average age of kids being exposed to it and the percentage of youth addicted to pornography.”
If “pornography is a given” then our culture now accepts the objectification of women as a given. How did this happen, and what can we do about it?
Unprotected helps answer these difficult questions, showing us that there is a way to be sexually satisfied, have happy marriages and greater respect for women on a large scale. It’s called Natural Family Planning (“NFP”). NFP respects the way a woman’s body has been created and allows a couple to communicate intimately around her natural cycles.
NFP is described as an “alternative lifestyle” in the film. Couples who switched from contraception to NFP report being even more satisfied sexually in their marriages than before due to the enhanced communication and loving care that it inspires. Modern methods of NFP have been statistically shown to be 98-99% effective at child spacing. It teaches each party to be gift of self to the other, which increases the love and respect in the marriage.
Overall, Unprotected is a must-see film for anyone who cares about the future of our society and the health and well-being of our children. While it refers to Church teachings, it is not “preachy” and is based in scientific research and factual evidence.