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Several currents came together in the 1960s to turn America's sexual mores upside-down. The birth control pill was perfected, for the first time giving women the freedom to engage in sexual relations without fear of pregnancy.Women traditionally acted to restrain men's sexual proclivities, since they had borne the consequences of sex in pregnancy and motherhood. Feminism also changed female attitudes towards sex.Feminists beginning with Simone de Beauvoir decried women's subservience to men.They exposed the Victorian double standard that permitted men to indulge their appetites with multiple lovers but expected women to be monogamous.The sexual revolution that burst on the American scene in the 1960s has promoted an alternative sexual ethic, asserting that recreational sex is a healthy activity.It condemned Victorian mores that limited sex to the marriage bed as restrictive of personal freedom, and asserted that sex between consenting partners is a positive value for promoting intimacy and affection.They attacked the long-standing misogynist tradition that regarded women as property—hence any bride who was not a virgin was stigmatized as "damaged goods"—and which denied that women should even expect to achieve sexual satisfaction.To counter this injustice, feminists declared that women should be able to have sex on equal terms with men, to claim their right to sexual pleasure, and even beat men in their own game of sexual domination.
Today's Protestants have been joined by post-Vatican II progressive Catholics in promoting the belief that sex is a gift of God, to express love between husband and wife and increase the health and satisfaction of marriage: According to the Jewish mystical teachings of the Kabbala, the time of sexual intercourse is a moment of great holiness, when the Shekhinah (the Holy Spirit) descends to the couple and showers them with blessings.Sexual misconduct is somehow connected to the Original Sin, when Adam and Eve yielded to temptation in the Garden of Eden and afterwards covered their lower parts (Genesis 3:7).To overcome this problem, religions call for self-control, and especially the mastery of sexual desire, as the foundation for personal maturity, ethical relations with others, and a right relationship with God.Many of Freud's patients were afflicted by neuroses and psychosomatic ailments with no medical cause.He determined the cause to be sexual repression from early childhood, which was buried deep in the unconscious, the so-called Oedipus complex.