Did Hormonal Contraception cause the destruction of the family?

The sexual revolution happened when the pill happened, that is, when Hormonal Birth Control happened.

In the comments Spandrell provides compelling evidence that the effect of hormonal birth control on the sexual revolution was not very large.

Yet we have long had methods of birth control and early stage abortificants. Condoms are so ancient that males have evolved to dislike them. The sponge has been around for several hundred years, the cap has been around for a hundred and eighty years, the diaphragm for a hundred and thirty years. The IUD has been around for eighty years, but was not perfected until about 1950 or so..

The sponge, the diaphragm, and the cap have the inconvenience that they have to be inserted before sexual intercourse and removed after a day or so. The greater convenience of the pill and the modern IUD could well be the cause of the sexual revolution. But the IUD was safe and convenient ten years before the pill, and we only got the sexual revolution after the pill.

The sexual revolution happened when the pill happened, fifty years ago, consistent with the conjecture that the pill interferes with some critical component of bonding.

Among the atheist, materialist, and reactionary pick up artist movement, it is generally believed that the monthly ovulation hormone surge and the resulting behavior change that happens during ovulation is intended by natural selection to promote paternity fraud. Now while paternity fraud is a big problem, in that any paternity fraud is a really bad thing, and the threat of paternity fraud undermines fatherhood and the family, the actual amount of paternity fraud is pretty small, (not nearly small enough, but small) so I am inclined to agree with Sunshine Mary that paternity fraud is unlikely to be the primary purpose of the hormone surge.

(Digressing, one of the easiest things we could do to promote family formation is ensure serious legal and social consequences for paternity fraud, comparable with those of rape, thereby reducing a potent threat, and encouraging better female behavior by authoritatively stigmatizing the worst female misbehavior.)

The blogger Sunshine Mary, whose wonderful blog “The Woman and the Dragon” has now sadly disappeared, seems to have had an ovulation hormone surge that was quite noticeable to herself, so probably bigger than most, and she believed, on the basis of her subjective experience, that the primary purpose of the hormone surge was to promote sexual bonding, to bind women to stick around with the father of their children, to promote, rather than destroy, the family, though she recognized it could easily work both ways.

Perhaps women are programmed to bond when they orgasm with breast manipulation of those extra sensitive breasts that they have at ovulation time.

Hormone based contraception suppress the monthly ovulation based hormone surge, making women quite noticeably less irrational, emotional and illogical at least twice a month, and perhaps for the entire month. Perhaps irrational, emotional and illogical is what we need in order to reproduce successfully.

My own personal experience and observation is consistent with the theory that females who are not on hormone based contraception tend to form strong bonds, and stick around, and females on hormone based contraception tend to move along after three or four years, but I don’t have enough anecdotes for them to be data. (For housework, on the other hand, I have enough anecdotes to tell you confidently that it is apt to be disastrous for men to do women’s work. For housework, I have enough anecdotes to be data.)

No one has ever examined the effect of the pill on female bonding. It needs scientific examination. The pill obviously, on casual observation, has a significant effect on female behavior. It affects their minds quite noticeably, and many men view that as a major benefit. No one, however, has ever attempted to measure behavioral side effects. How does family formation and marital stability compare between women who use the pill, and women who use other methods?

40 Responses to “Did Hormonal Contraception cause the destruction of the family?”

  1. spandrell says:

    “I think it is social status.”

    Well, it’s hard to disentangle financial security from social status.
    Women in matriarchal tribes have status but no money, how promiscuous are they?

  2. roger says:

    I do think that reliable antibiotics made a major difference. Dates don’t match exactly, but I wouldn’t expect them to. It takes a while for the whole of social norms and culture to shift.

    Consider this shift: AIDS led to a massive reduce in male gay behavior. Inate? Maybe not so much. Says the New York Times.


    There was a time when promiscuity equaled tons of bad diseases. Like syphilis. After antibiotics, it took several years for the treatments to become the norm and maybe another 10-20 years for awareness of fewer STDS to become widespread and for culture to shift. Viola.

    If medicine prevented the uglifying effects of crystal meth would meth use become socially accepted that year? I doubt it.

  3. spandrell says:

    Japan’s culture is very strongly against illegitimacy, an even extremely trashy people will marry if the broad gets pregnant. Of course it helps that she could sue the guy for money if he didn’t, but in the end it’s about societal pressure. 70% of marriages are because the woman get’s pregnant, with no previous plans.

    Sex is as open, if not more, than the West, fertility is similar, average age of marriage is similar, sexual activity until that is also similar. Divorce is lower but adultery is more common. Promiscuity is not at all dissimilar to the West. This is first hand experience. And for second hand experience, I have a mulatto friend who’s screwing a different girl every week. Normal middle class girls.

    Less sex in total is going on but that’s a biological thing; lower T and all that.

    AFAIK Chinese women are on the pill at much higher rates than Japan. And all I see is less open sexuality, because women won’t put up if you can’t provide for her.

    • jim says:

      That example pretty compellingly leads to the conclusion that whatever the effects of the pill on sexuality, the pill is not a substantial cause of the sexual revolution.

      • Nick B. Steves says:

        Jim, you must have magic Spandrell interpretation goggles…

        AFAIK Chinese women are on the pill at much higher rates than Japan. [Okay let’s assume that’s correct…] And all I see [where? In China I guess] is less open sexuality, because women [in China?, Japan? Both?] won’t put up if you can’t provide for her.

        So, to sum up: Japanese women, who are less likely to be on the pill are more open to fuck than Chinese women who are more likely to be on the pill? Is THAT it? But you just got done saying that “sex (where?) is as open, if not more, than the West”. Where is it MORE open: China or Japan? But your mulatto buddy seems to be getting plenty of poon in China… or is that in Japan?

        Assuming Spandrell is correct about the incidence of pill use (I have no reason to doubt the reportage), incidence of openness to fucking (where, I don’t know), it still seems like a pretty big leap to assume that Chinese and Japanese cultures are similar enough to draw any very compelling conclusions. You have centuries of relative isolation, concomitant inbreeding, divergent folkways and religions, and ultimately radically divergent attempts to deal with modernity… and the pill is nothing if not modernity (on estrogen).

        • Nick B. Steves says:

          Have we factored in that lower incidence of pill use might increase the incidence of anal? Have we factored in the fact that pill use reduces, in some cases dramatically, female libido? There’re a lot of moving parts here (and penetrable ones).

          • spandrell says:

            Anal is very rare in Japan, non-existent in China. FWIW.

            Mulatto friend is in Japan, of course.

            I think the evidence indicates that the biggest factor in female promiscuity is financial independence.
            If women need men to provide for them, they will restrict access to pussy. If they can survive without men, they will hunt alphas.

            I sell goggles at my blog if you need some.

            • jim says:

              This does not sound right to me, though I can present absolutely no objective evidence.

              I think it is social status. Females are not attracted to men of equal or lower status than their own, hence Paul’s rule against women in leadership positions over men, and his rule against women speaking in Church. As ninety five percent of the male population has dropped into invisibility, women are necessarily reduced to lek style sex. This ends when the guys who usually give out lek style sex, won’t give it to them any more, whereupon their self perceived status drops, and then regular males become visible to them.

          • Nick B. Steves says:

            Well that makes a great deal of sense. The financial independence angle (likely correlated with general GDP/cap.) is a satisfyingly parsimonious explanation. I hate the pill. As a Catholic, I hate contraception. And I would love to hang the Coming Birth Dearth Apocalypse® upon the neck of such practices. But at the same time, the truth is paramount. If the pill is only a symptom and not a cause, I’m okay with that. As long as there’s something to blame!

            Better get about to de-independencizing those women folk.

            Oh, yeah, and get me a pair of them goggles.

          • Nick B Steves says:

            I think it is social status.

            Financial independence and social status are highly correlated. It would be hard to see the effect of one without seeing the effect of the other. Do women chase alpha because they are financially independent or because they see nice-guy betas as beneath them? Yes.

        • jim says:

          Yes, divergent attempts to deal with modernity.

          No pill, twentieth century western style approach to modernity, you get sexual revolution.

          Pill, sinified take on nineteenth century western style approach to modernity, substantially less of the sexual revolution.

          Ergo, twentieth century western style approach to modernity did it.

          • Alrenous says:

            You’ve ruled out a categorical effect on bonding, nice. It may still have a marginal effect, however. For example scientists have found that women’s preferences shift while on the pill. Which means if a girl marries on the pill and then goes off the pill, her preferences can shift away from her husband.

          • Nick B Steves says:

            I don’t think Jim and Spandrell are ruling out the effect on bonding. They’re just saying that it is not the primary driver. I’m not convinced that the pill wasn’t a pretty heavy straw laid upon a weak camel’s back however. Things went to hell pretty quick between say ’65 and ’75. It seems unlikely that just one thing could do that. More likely a whole set of things that just happened to be oriented in a very non-random way. There is no doubt that the pill couldn’t possibly have made things better… Blunting female libido at its lunar peak for millions of women is almost surely one major vector of pathology.

  4. RS says:

    ‘Technical’ illegitimacy is very high in Sweden, because marriage is often scorned, but what is the rate of fathers actually not being around among actual (White) Swedes? False paternity is very low indeed, probably not terribly different from Japan.

    I suppose the sexual revolution is not just promiscuity, but also fathers not being around (regardless of technical state of matrimony), and also women having offspring from more than one father over a lifetime. But in any case one cannot argue about it without a fairly clear definition.

    • jim says:

      ‘Technical’ illegitimacy is very high in Sweden, because marriage is often scorned, but what is the rate of fathers actually not being around among actual (White) Swedes?

      Hard to tell: There is a wall of lies and political correctness. Swedes know remarkably little about Sweden and what little they do know, they are disinclined to say. Much like Cuba.

      What I can tell however is that it is dangerous in Sweden for Swedes to discuss the absence of biological fathers.

      The bible, and anglosphere society up to the early sixties, equated sex with marriage. Biblical rule is that a woman was only supposed to have sex with one man, and was supposed to stick with that man. Marriage was that woman sticking with that man. The state’s presence in defining marriage was rather peripheral, and the Church’s presence much less central than it sometimes pretended. The Pauline rules were socially enforced, with state and church backing up society, rather than substituting themselves for society.

      So, the sexual revolution is women not sticking around, female adultery, and women having children by different fathers, which is to say, women behaving in ways likely to reduce male investment in posterity.

      Googling for fatherlessness in Japan, I get hits about fathers working long hours, which suggests that actual fatherlessness is not a problem in Japan.

      Looks to me that Swedes don’t talk about fatherlessness because it is dangerous to do so, Japanese do not talk about fatherlessness because it does not happen.

      The state criminalized Pauline marriage in the nineteenth century, without much effect, because Pauline marriage was still socially enforced. Women promised at the altar to love, honor, and obey. 1950s television comedy plot is commonly: wife furtively disobeys husband, hijinks ensue as she attempts to conceal her disobedience. The state gained traction in the early seventies.

  5. RS says:

    Well, define sexual revolution. Lots of promiscuity?

    I cannot really accept STD rates as a good indicator of promiscuity. They seem to be too sensitive and/or nonlinear on the whole, inconsistently sensitive from one disease to another — and I’d further speculate that within a given disease sensitivity may well vary a great deal over the range of the independent variable (namely promiscuity).

    For instance we have a Black:White ratio for syphilis incidence in the US of 50 to 100. For other diseases it can be much lower.

    Basically, I think, Blacks, especially lower-quartile ones, are more likely to run around behaving semi-randomly . . . Japs I bet are highly likely to get treated for eradicable/suppressible STDs like, immediately. So you could get a herd immunity sort of effect that could hide promiscuity. In brief, I think direct survey data about promiscuity would have much less problems even though we all know men ’round up’ generously on them while women round down.

    • zhai2nan2 says:

      > So you could get a herd immunity sort of effect that could hide promiscuity.

      I’ve been looking at the medical journals to which I have access. They are full of reports of how Japan’s microbes have been evolving resistance to treatment for decades, and as of 2011 Japan identified a “superbug” gonorrhea.

      So I think the Japanese have been getting gonorrhea for many years and treating it aggressively. As a result, their diseases have mutated into more dangerous forms.

    • Nick B. Steves says:

      Comparing STD rates across different cultures, I agree, could say more about relative IQ and conscientiousness than relative promiscuity. But within a culture, the time derivative of STD rates, could be quite informative, esp. in time series with rates of hormonal contraception.

  6. RS says:

    Of course there is also such a thing as lactational non-menstruation, whose absence, it’s been pointed out, might be roughly(??) as unnatural as the pill. I have no idea whether it is endocrinologically comparable to being on the pill.

    In nature, basically, to our knowledge, women nurse an infant for some three years IIRC, and they don’t cycle for that time.

    Also, in the Old World, women must have been pregnant one hell of a lot, considering the death rate for under-18 humans, especially under-12 I think — main cause being infection, or infection on a background of marginal nutrition. I would think there may have been a bit less pregnancy in the more or less infection-free precolumbian Americas.

  7. ID says:

    I believe that it is the increased estrogen a woman recieves while on the pill that results in these problems. Estrogen is largely misunderstood as a “female hormone”, but is more accurately a stress hormone with anti-metabolic effects. Here’s an interesting article on estrogen: http://raypeat.com/articles/aging/aging-estrogen-progesterone.shtml

    • RS says:

      I wouldn’t put it that way. Estrogen does about a million things. Bone and tendon maintenance/repair, and I think muscle too. Feminization, obviously, when levels are high. Affect/sentiment, including in the male, both as an endocrine and as a paracrine factor.

      Cupidity (at least in the male), in concert with DHT, as I mentioned. –Of course this is done by estrogen (estradiol) that has been converted from T, I would guess, approximately a few seconds ago.

      Ironically, estrogen, converted from T, actually carries out (what looks like most of) the virilization of the male brain, during the post-natal T surge in the male infant. In this case/functionality I would guess it may remain active for several minutes.

    • jim says:

      In an unmedicated woman, estrogen is a surge hormone. From time to time she is exposed to brief periods of very high estrogen.

      Sunshine Mary’s theory is that these brief periods cause a corresponding bonding window.

      It is not that the pill causes higher or lower estrogen, but that it causes higher median estrogen and lower peak estrogen.

  8. spandrell says:

    Anna Karenina wasn’t on the pill.

    Nor are 98% of Japanese.

    It’s the money.

    • RS says:

      Sounds like it’s more the money then

      Though there could be some difference by race, Nords, say, being generally more primitive than Japs.

      But the racial difference can only be so great.

    • jim says:

      Japanese do not use hormone based contraception. Did Japan have a sexual revolution?

      Illegitimacy in Japan remains low, extremely low. I don’t hear any reports of routine high female notch count. STDs are damn near nonexistent.

      Looks to me as if, no hormone based contraception, no sexual revolution.

      That Japan did not have a sexual revolution is evidence that the pill did it, since the main reason for low pill use in Japan is widespread early adoption of other means of contraception.

      The increased status of women and reduced status of men is having the usual effects on sex and marriage in Japan – indeed, some of the humor in the anime Seitokai Yakuindomo comes from making this very point, for example the opening scene of the first episode where several teenage boys are terrified to find themselves pressed up against a crowded mass of teenage girls, lest they be accused of groping, and in episode four when a boy gives a straight man response to a lewd joke by one of the girls, and she responds in outrage, shock and horror, screaming “sexual harassment”. He is in a no win situation – there is no acceptable response to her joke.

      The comedic premise of Seitokai Yakuindomo is that it is safe for high status females to engage in lewd talk and dirty jokes, even in mixed company, because males are terrified of them, and correspondingly unsafe for low status males, status inversion leading to some degree of sex role inversion.

      Of course anime is a highly unreliable indicator of culture, but the culture depicted in that anime has the feminist revolution, but not the sexual revolution, which fits what little I know of Japan.

      No sexual revolution, thus no free sex for men.

      Feminist revolution, thus no marital sex for men. (Since females are only turned on by males substantially higher status than themselves)

      Population implosion follows.

      • zhai2nan2 says:

        > Did Japan have a sexual revolution?

        Japan never had entrenched Christian sexual mores.

        >Illegitimacy in Japan remains low, extremely low.

        Japanese women abort many viable children.

        > I don’t hear any reports of routine high female notch count.

        You must be talking to different Japanese people than I talk to.

        The Japanese don’t talk about high female notch counts in their mainstream media, but as far as I can tell, there are a hell of a lot of Japanese women who experiment with promiscuity while they are young, then give up on sex when they hit the wall.

        I don’t expect you to accept my second-hand anecdotes, but I don’t have documentation of female Japanese notch counts handy. If you like, I can try to substantiate this claim with some actual documentation, but my Japanese is not very adequate to the task of reading through their documents.

        Lastly, I could be wrong about this. It could be that I’ve been listening to embittered Japanese men who complain about women with high notch counts, but Japanese women actually have low notch counts.

        >STDs are damn near nonexistent.

        Japan probably has a smaller STD problem than the USA, but STDs in Japan are an issue. In fact, if I’m going to start documenting this issue, I should probably start with STD treatment rates.

        • jim says:

          It could be that I’ve been listening to embittered Japanese men who complain about women with high notch counts.

          Average age of female marriage is similar in Japan to the west, which would suggest similar notch counts, which would in turn suggest that hormonal birth control has little effect. On the other hand we would expect the high cost and small size of housing to delay marriage regardless of sexual conduct, so this is not necessarily indicative.

          Checking the divorce rate: Similar to the west. This suggests that Hormonal Birth Control is not a substantial factor.

          • Koanic says:

            “Average age of female marriage is similar in Japan to the west, which would suggest similar notch counts, ”

            I thought you were a better racist than that. Testosterone levels, man.

      • Koanic says:

        The largest gap in sociosexuality is between developed western countries and asian countries. This holds regardless of the pill. Pick a better example to make your case.


  9. Candide III says:

    No one has ever examined the effect of the pill on female bonding. It needs scientific examination. The pill obviously, on casual observation, has a significant effect on female behavior. It affects their minds quite noticeably, and many men view that as a major benefit. No one, however, has ever attempted to measure behavioral side effects. How does family formation and marital stability compare between women who use the pill, and women who use other methods?

    Take a look at this one and references therein.

    • jim says:

      Close to what I want, but not quite. It is indeed a study of the effect of the pill on female bonding. They studied couples who had at least one child in the relationship.

      The question I want is the effect of the pill, as compared to other forms of contraception, on a couple’s propensity to form relationships leading to at least one child in the relationship.

  10. Jehu says:

    It’s more than the pill that did the sexual revolution (which is over, your side lost). It is also right around the time that reliable antibiotics came on the scene. This removed the other elephant in the room temporarily—sexually transmitted diseases, since nearly all of them became much less of a threat. Add these two together and you’ve got a significant reduction in the visible portion of the downside of going after cads vs going after dads.

    • jim says:

      It is also right around the time that reliable antibiotics came on the scene.

      Incorrect: Reliable and effective antibiotics for sexually transmitted diseases became widely available to the military during World War II, and immediately after World War II, were made widely available to everyone.

      So neither reliable contraception (1600 or so), nor convenient contraception (1950) nor reliable and convenient antibiotics (1945) caused the sexual revolution.

      The political changes, such as the ever escalating definition of rape as a lever to destroy marriage, came too late, were the Cathedral taking advantage of the sexual revolution rather than promoting it, and the technological changes came too soon.

      • RS says:

        Agree with your chronology.

        Recently suggested to my friend that he try maintaining his girl off the pill. –Just an intuition: anecdote plus aprioristic reasoning (uh, sex steroids are important). I can’t even recite the parameters of what the pill does, because I give attention to male endocrinology not femme.

        My long-term x who was on it was asymmetrically obsessed with me (vs me with her)… but not so much with physical juxtaposition of any grade. Also wouldn’t stand up to me, way tractable, would take any kind of insensitivity or harshness lying down, or just cry or go bananas without actually directing negative affect at me. She’s half-Ashkenazi to boot, not exactly a pushover race.

        Makes me think of low androgen signaling (whether T and/or DHT, if women even have DHT), and/or some other perturbation with many similar features.

        Unfortunately I’m mainly talking about actual downstream cellular signaling, which is not always a simple function of circulating (systemic) androgen levels. It gets fairly technical. For instance, high serum T is generally gonna mean a highly sexual male, but cupidity is actually executed more by DHT — and, quite crucially, by enormous and highly local bursts of estrogen (locally converted from T), termed paracrine/autocrine, that have little or no effect on circulating estrogen. A somewhat simpler example is that high circulating prolactin blunts androgen signaling.

        Also, there are lots of (psychoactive) metabolites of T, it ain’t just DHT. Those metabolites come from enzymes, whose levels, I’m sure, are in large part regulated by other sex steroids.

        I also wonder if the pill could have made her more interested in hearing me philosophize about Fight Club for like five hours. But sadly the whole thing was sad on the whole.

      • Koanic says:

        Interesting, but I think you’re ignoring generational delay.

        • Thales says:

          Sexual revolution coincides with the Prophet generation (per Strauss and Howe) which always rails against austere rules after a crisis war. I think it’s a confluence of factors — the technology and ideas being in place, then having the cultural wave to ride upon.

      • Bill says:

        So neither reliable contraception (1600 or so), nor convenient contraception (1950) nor reliable and convenient antibiotics (1945) caused the sexual revolution.

        You are reasoning like an economist here, and I mean that as a critique. This argument depends on instant behavioral response. I don’t really have an opinion either on how fast the behavioral response would be or on the larger issue of what caused the sixties, but the idea that there will be a fast behavioral response to changing technical conditions is a signature error of geeks. Most people are really, really dumb.

        • jim says:

          Yes, you are right. Fifteen or twenty years for people to suddenly react to technological change is not a long time.

  11. Red says:

    I’ve read that the free love of the 60s and 70s was bribe to white males for looking the other way with the civil rights movement, but I don’t know the truth of it. I know that by the late 80s free love had been replaced by child support hell for men and no sexual access for less sexy men.

    The sexual revolution and everything that’s come after it seems aimed at the old progressive goal of breaking up the family. As such I think it’s more culturally/law induced rather than drug induced change.

    • jim says:

      My interpretation of events is that in the sixties males still had automatically higher status than females, so most males were attractive to most females – that the reason that fewer males are getting laid now is the same reason as marriage is being delayed. Women cannot get married until their inflated status is deflated.

      As such I think it’s more culturally/law induced rather than drug induced change.

      The most drastic laws against marriage, for example marital rape, came in after the sexual revolution.

      Although the requirement for wifely obedience had long been removed from the law, people, especially women, generally insisted on it in their marriage vows, with the wife promising to love, honor, and obey. After the sexual revolution, “Obey” went out. They had been pushing against “obey” for a very long time, then, after the sexual revolution, got traction.

Leave a Reply