The Pill Perplex

Eberstadt imagines two women—Betty, a 30-year-old housewife in 1958, and her granddaughter, Jennifer, who is 30 today—and considers their attitudes toward sex and food. When it came to food, Betty and her contemporaries had few strong opinions. Betty had her own personal preferences—perhaps she liked beets and hated pot roast—but she recognized these preferences as such, and she didn’t spend much time thinking about food as anything but food. Betty did, however, have reasonably strong opinions about the rights and wrongs of sex. She thought that there were things nice girls wouldn’t (or at least shouldn’t) do, and that there were rules about how people should behave. While she might not have proselytized, she had what Kant called Categorical Imperatives when it came to sexual mores: She followed rules that she believed should be universally acknowledged.

For Jennifer and many of her friends today, these two clusters of views have likely flipped. She has her own preferences when it comes to sex—things she likes to do and things she does not—but she would never imagine that these personal tastes were part of a universal code. So long as sex is between two consenting adults, Jennifer views nearly every other aspect of it pretty much the way Betty viewed beets and pot roasts.

But Jennifer does have some pretty strongly held beliefs about food. She thinks it’s important to eat healthy foods: no trans fats, no artificial ingredients, organic when possible. She thinks there’s a moral case to be made for vegetarianism and buying local, sustainable produce. She believes that there is a mindful, elevated manner in which to approach food—it’s her own Categorical Imperative. As Eberstadt concludes, “Betty thinks food is a matter of taste, whereas sex is governed by universal moral law of some kind; and Jennifer thinks exactly the reverse.”

via The Pill Perplex | The Weekly Standard.

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