In this cultural moment, The Case Against the Sexual Revolution could hardly be more radical. It is an act of insurrection, its seditiousness born not only of the pieties it is determined to explode, but of the fact that it is also diligently researched and written in plain English. Did Perry, I wonder, struggle to find a home for it? Was her manuscript considered too hot to handle? I don’t know. All I can tell you is that while most mainstream publishers are seemingly content to publish feminist books that are both fact-free and clotted to the point of unreadability with jargon, her utterly sane and straightforward text comes to us courtesy of Polity, a small academic press ... Perry is alert to the contradictions involved in this way of thinking ... I don’t always agree with her solutions, though it comes as something of a shock to see a feminist writer with any new ideas at all (the books of her peers are mostly just catalogues of woe lightly sprinkled with personal anecdotes) ... I wish she hadn’t detoured into marriage. As a feminist who decries the matricidal impulses of her generation, I hope she won’t mind me saying that life is long, that people fall in and out of love in spite of their best efforts, and that all the statistics in the world cannot make me believe that a child with really miserable parents would not, ultimately, be better off if they could only separate amicably ... But such disagreements on my part are half of the point. This is a provocative book. More than once, its author says the unsayable. It makes you think, and it makes you want for a better world. It is urgent and daring and brave. It may turn out to be one of the most important feminist books of its time.
This is very much a book for straight readers, given its emphasis on what she sees as the innate and conflicting differences between male and female sexuality, of which more later ... There have been plenty of books by young women denouncing pornified culture. But what’s unusual about Perry’s is its full-throated boldness. She doesn’t, she insists, want to drag everyone back to the 1950s, despite her uncompromisingly retro view that women should get married and stay married if they possibly can. But she absolutely is gunning for what she calls 'liberal feminism', a painstakingly inclusive credo embracing diverse sexual identities ... Her rules may sound to many of her peers like fusty relics from the Victorian age, and I have both practical and ideological reservations about several of them. Her descriptions of the 'female brain' also come down too heavily, for my money, on the side of biology over social conditioning, given the painstaking work of psychologists such as Cordelia Fine to disentangle the two ... But Perry undeniably has a sharp eye both for the ways in which contemporary feminism risks eating itself and for those guilty feminist moments where emotions awkwardly refuse to comply with the theoretical ideal. Any woman who has ever had what was meant to be a gloriously hedonistic no-strings fling, only to find herself anxiously checking her WhatsApps just to see if he’s called, will recognise something here ... although she skewers a problem, Perry is less convincing on the solutions ... The tug of war between freedom and security, pleasure and shame, isn’t new. But Perry has brought it bang up to date in this invigoratingly readable book, which fits neatly into the gap between highly 'online' feminism and what lots of women actually think and feel and do in private ... You don’t have to agree with her entire world-view to find it thought-provoking. You just have to wonder, even fleetingly, why the aspects of patriarchy men seem keenest on overthrowing so often seem to involve taking your clothes off.
... crisply readable ... [Perry's] solution is a diet of security measures so extreme it would make a Puritan pour her a drink. She wants women like me to only get drunk or high in private with other women, boycott dating apps and withhold sex for the first few months of a relationship ... This is impractical and ignores the huge chunk of rapes that are domestic ... The most powerful and persuasive part of Perry’s argument is about the cast-iron link between violent sexual behaviour and the gigantic internet porn industry.