Northern Renaissance religious painting by Albrecht Dürer of the Holy Family: a pensive Joseph, who's probably wondering how he's going to support the baby; Mary, pondering these things in her heart, and the baby Jesus, gazing heavenward. Joseph, unusually, takes his place alongside Mary instead of hovering in the background, and the soft colors of ocher and rose convey that in spite of the terrible wounds our families inflict on us, they are also a sanctuary and home.

Louise Perry’s The Case Against the Sexual Revolution promotes itself as a “counter-cultural polemic from one of the most exciting young voices in contemporary feminism.”

Hilariously—and encouragingly—much of it could have been written by a straight-up Catholic grandmother—or a human being of either gender and any age with a modicum of common sense.

Perry, a London-based secular writer and New Statesman columnist, proposes a new sexual culture built around “dignity, virtue and restraint.”

Well, amen. Chapter titles include “Sex Must Be Taken Seriously,” “Men and Women Are Different,” “Loveless Sex Is Not Empowering,” “Consent Is Not Enough,” “Violence Is Not Love,” “People Are Not Products,” and—miracle of miracles—“Marriage Is Good.” 

Instead of spouting identity-politics ideology, Perry turns to evolution, biology, and psychology and asks: What is best for the well-being of women? What do women really need?

She starts by stating one glaringly obvious fact: the sexual revolution has inured almost entirely to the benefit of men. To cut to the chase: Why wouldn’t the guy take off after having sex? He suffers zero consequences. No social stigma. No moral censure. And what with the availability of birth control (which Perry generally applauds) and abortion (not so much), in the case of pregnancy, you’re on your own: your choice, your baby.

To reduce the incidence of rape, she points out, it’s not a good idea for a woman to get drunk and walk around alone at night. This might sound obvious, but such basic “let’s play heads-up ball” notions are viewed by many feminists as victim-blaming and therefore discouraged.  

This urging, under the banner of “freedom,” to abdicate all agency and responsibility for our behavior is typical of cultural feminism. Instead of celebrating and cherishing our womanhood, we have professed to despise men, and then proceeded slavishly to imitate the worst of them: the casual philanderer, the bad boy.

If we want to imitate men, is my thought, why not take as our model the faithful husband and father? Better yet, why imitate them at all? Why not truly “take back the night” and start advocating for our own deepest hearts? Why not support our sisters by emphasizing that the time to exercise control of our bodies is before we have sex with someone who’s not irrevocably committed to us?

Hello: women are smaller, weaker, and more vulnerable than men. We’re lower on what psychologists called “psychosexuality”: the desire for sexual variety.

And because we are built, on every level, around the fact that we can carry new life into the world, we look for different things in a sexual partner than men do. So listen to your mother, says Perry. Ask yourself: Is this a man who would make a good father to my children?

Here’s a radical idea: sex is a social justice issue. As Perry points out, if we watch porn, we’re promoting sexual violence and human trafficking. If we’re ignoring our inner alarm system, we’re encouraging other women to do the same.

If we’re indulging in loose sexual behavior, I would add, then we’re promoting loose sexual behavior in everyone else: our neighbors, our sons and daughters, our parish priest, the men halfway around the world who are going to abandon the impoverished women whom they impregnate.

Perry emphasizes that monogamy, while not in line with our natural inclinations, makes for a more robust economy, more stable communities, a deeper sense of purpose and meaning, and in the end more happiness for both men and women.

She makes a related important point: that heterosexual monogamy weighs way more heavily on, and calls for more constraint on the part of, men than it does on women.

In doing so, she unintentionally rebuts the accusation that the Church is anti-female. In fact, almost every page of Perry’s book reminded me that the teachings of the Church are perfectly designed to protect and cherish women and children upon whom the emotional and physical brunt of uncommitted sex, pregnancy, and poverty always fall most heavily.

The Church calls both men and women to celibacy outside the sacrament of marriage.

This is hard, but the good news is that in laying down our lives for our friends, we are given the very meaning and purpose of which our culture is so largely devoid.   

In the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (1981), Pope John Paul II wrote: “Virginity and apostolic celibacy not only do not contradict the dignity of marriage but presuppose it and confirm it’. More specifically, ‘Virginity keeps alive in the Church the awareness of the mystery of marriage and defends it against all attempts to impoverish it or reduce its importance’.” [no. 16].

Still, the one main place I part ways with Perry is that the resolutely secular program she outlines—sound in almost every respect—goes so strongly against our human grain that almost no-one would follow it except out of supernatural love.

“Who then can be saved?” ask the disciples about another hard teaching (Matthew 19:23-26).

“For human beings this is impossible,” Christ replies, “but for God all things are possible.”


  1. hi heather!
    right another important issue : the women and children. and all the abuse and brutality common against them. i really almost puke how much women and children suffer. go to the telephon store and try to smile at the girl- shes over her head in problems.there was a silent build up in cruelty and violence among men against women, and now its just normal that there is no one guy who feels for a woman.
    its always bam bow!
    i think we are missing the whole apparatus for humanity, for being comfortingly human. the only thing we do now is yell. ah and oh. nobody understands anything.
    i am not blaming, but we should really try to feel for woman and children. it would make us hurt.
    we are sooo way off!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Yes, and I think the ideas advanced in this book perhaps offer one trail back to wholeness, connection, compassion, and love…

  2. Dear Heather…I don’t remember now how I discovered you, but I’m so glad I did, and have been following you for about a month. I’m enjoying looking through your archive of past pieces. In case you don’t subscribe to First Things, below my signature is a link from the new issue, an article by Louise Perry, which I’m savoring almost as much as I am your work. If in coming weeks you see a run on your books in Amazon, that will be from me:) God bless you.
    -Alicia in Tampa, FL

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thanks, Alicia, welcome aboard! I don’t subscribe to First Things but I did see the Louise Perry piece and basically liked it, though she was a little pessimistic to my mind…Anyway, I appreciate your bringing the piece to our attention–God bless you and if there’s a run on my books soon, it will be the first one ever!

  3. Well, not exactly a run, but a stroll, anyway. I just purchased two paperbacks on Amazon: Poor Baby and Redeemed.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Well thank you so much, Alicia! Two in one day is definitely a run–woo-hoo!

  4. Dear Heather…I continue my peripatetic encounter with your work. I purchased “Parched” on eBay last week. I’m nearing the end and am trying to portion it out to make it last longer, but it’s hard, because your writing is so compelling. I did skip ahead to the interview with you at the end of the book. Priceless. To loosely paraphrase Meister Eckhart, if all one can say to a treasured author is “Thank you,” then that will be enough. Thank you, Heather, and thank God for you.

  5. Dear Heather…Just to let you know that since my first comment above of 9/17/23, I have purchased and (appreciatively, profitably) read five of your books. All except for Parched were purchased on Amazon, so that one I can’t (credibly) review there. So there has indeed been a mini-run on your books lately, albeit one with pauses and a detour. I have reviewed Poor Baby and Redeemed. I will get to Ravished and Stumble soon, which were bought at different times from a different account in my household. I am intimidated by the eloquence of other reviewers, an eloquence no doubt inspired by your writing and insights. It’s like, what can I say that would add to what’s been said; others have already expressed my thoughts! However, I realize that any good reviews help you – even of the “what they said” variety – so I will stop procrastinating one of these days 🙂 Thank you for your work. We your readers are fortunate that you followed your writer’s vocation. A blessed Advent to you, Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you so much, Alicia, for buying my books and please don’t in any way feel obligated to write an amazon or any other kind of review…if you do, of course I’m very grateful! Blessed Advent and Christmas to you–

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