Dynamist Blog

Andy Warhol, the Sexual Revolution, and the End of Marriage Glamour

In 1975, Andy Warhol praised the sexual revolution for destroying the glamour of marriage:

I love every "lib" movement there is, because after the "lib" the things that were always a mystique become understandable and boring, and then nobody has to feel left out if they're not part of what is happening. For instance, single people looking for husbands and wives used to feel left out because the image marriage had in the old days was so wonderful. Jane Wyatt and Robert Young. Nick and Nora Charles. Ethel and Fred Mertz. Dagwood and Blondie.

Being married looked so wonderful that life didn't seem livable if you weren't lucky enough to have a husband or wife. To the singles, marriage seemed beautiful, the trappings seemed wonderful, and the sex was always implied to be automatically great--no one could ever seem to find words to describe it because "you had to be there" to know how good it was. It was almost like a conspiracy on the part of the married people not to let it out how it wasn't necessarily completely wonderful to be married and having sex; they could have taken a load off the single people's minds if they'd just been candid.

But it was always a fairly well-kept secret that if you were married to somebody you didn't have enough room in bed and might have to face bad breath in the morning.

The drive for gay marriage represents the end of the sexual revolution. Marriage lost its glamour. It lost its connection to sex. Divorce got so easy that "single mom" became a sympathetic political trope. Cohabitation became normal. Nowadays, nobody--least of all gays--has to get married to be a respectable member of society. And yet people want to get married. They want to bind themselves to be monogamous. They want to promise in public to face bad breath in the morning. That's pretty remarkable.

UPDATE: Welcome Andrew Sullivan readers. There's more on the main page.

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