Aldous Huxley, in Brave New World, predicted that human adults, freed from the obligations of rearing children and caring for aging parents, would have sex with new friends at least once a week.
In the years since the novel’s publication, at least in the West, we’ve had progressively less social pressure to get married, stay married, and have children. Free of these pressures, what did humans in fact do? “The average number of sexual partners for each generation… from baby boomers to millennials” (The Sun) says that each generation in Europe (where Brave New World is primarily set) had sex with more partners than did the previous generation. So Huxley was right!
Would it be practical for Americans to adopt Brave New World sexuality? Behaving like a character in the novel, the typical student would have sex with at least 200 different partners during four college years. In light of the recent conviction of Harvey Weinstein for acts that occurred years prior and that weren’t reported to the police at the time, a winning financial strategy would be to save physical evidence from each of these 200 encounters and then wait to see which of the 200 partners become financially successfully (it would be terrible luck if none ended up as a “one percenter,” right?). Then launch a criminal and/or civil rape case and demand compensation. The statute of limitations for a rape prosecution is now 20 years in New York, for example (CNN). By the time all of the litigation ended, there should be a substantial reduction in inequality (though maybe the litigators would pocket most of it and become the oligarchs).
Huxley imagined some tremendous advancements in technology. The book was written ten years before the first production line for helicopters was set up, yet every Alpha male seems to own an aircraft kind of like a Lockheed Cheyenne, one of the most advanced vehicles of the 1960s. But he couldn’t envision a simple system of contraception. Fertile women (there are only two genders in the book and the LGBTQIA+ rainbow was not contemplated) wear “Malthusian Belts” and undertake a complex bathroom-based process with the items carried in these belts to avoid pregnancy. When that doesn’t work, there is a high-rise abortion center large enough to warm the heart of any modern Democrat running for President.
(Speaking of aircraft, as noted in the previous posting on this book, Huxley doesn’t envision any form of radio navigation. The pilot-citizens of Brave New World follow a ground-based system of “lighthouses”. This is despite the successful use of radio navigation in in 1928 and 1929 (source) and a pioneering effort in 1920.)
- “Sexual Hookup Culture: A Review” (Rev Gen Psychol. 2012 Jun 1; 16(2): 161–176): “Several scholars have suggested that shifting life-history patterns may be influential in shaping hookup patterns. In the United States, age at first marriage and first reproduction has been pushed back dramatically, while at the same time age at puberty has dropped dramatically, resulting in a historically unprecedented time gap where young adults are physiologically able to reproduce but not psychologically or socially ready to “settle down” and begin a family and child rearing”