Remember Virginia Ironside? The British advice guru who believes that mothers should be able to smother their “suffering” babies with pillows? Well, she’s back, with a recent piece on Mail Online, touting her youthful service as a veritable Moses on the front lines of the sexual revolution, “clearing our way through the sexual undergrowth” toward the promised land of consequence-free sexual freedom for future generations.
Because when it came to sex, we were, of course, the trailblazers for a completely new attitude, and blazing trails is always horribly uncomfortable. We were the ones with the hacksaws and dust masks, clearing our way through the sexual undergrowth, getting covered with scratches and gashes and slipping into invisible swamps. It’s the people who follow afterwards who have the easier time, sauntering along the trodden path, picking roses along the way. Young people today.
The question is, what exactly was it that Ironside and her comrades so recklessly discarded with those dust masks and hacksaws? And at what cost? Because I don’t see Ironside’s ideological progeny as she apparently does, skipping along some rose-lined path after being delivered from a thorny swamp of repression and forced ignorance. Statistics prove that instead of roses, Ironside and her comrades bequeathed a bitter legacy of exploding illegitimacy, abortion, sexually transmitted infections, divorce, sexual abuse, suicide, and crime.
And yet, Ironside touts herself as Joan of Arc, Sophie Scholl, and the Tienanmen Tank Man all rolled into one, bed-hopping like a slutty rabbit throughout the sixties in a sacrificial quest to “blaze a trail” for future generations – at least those who she doesn’t feel should have been killed in the womb or smothered with a pillow.
To be honest, I mainly remember the 60s as an endless round of miserable promiscuity, a time when often it seemed easier and, believe it or not, more polite, to sleep with a man than to chuck him out of your flat. I recall a complete stranger once slipping into bed beside me when I was staying in an all-male household in Oxford, and feeling so baffled about what the right thing was to do that I let him have sex with me; I remember being got drunk by a grossly fat tabloid newspaper journalist and taken back to a flat belonging to a friend of his to which he had a key, being subjected to what would now be described as rape, and still thinking it was my fault for accepting so much wine.
If it was such a noble sacrifice, why do I feel like I need a shower and a course of penicillin? Nevertheless, Ironside insists that such degradation was the price she had to pay in order to emancipate our daughters and grand-daughters from the oppressive misery of societal priggishness.