The Future of American Sexuality and Family by Mark Regnerus

Five Key Trends

The tenth anniversary of Public Discourse makes for a good opportunity to take stock of what has happened in the past decade in the domains of sexuality and family. One would think that ten years is not a very long time to measure change in such timeless matters as family and sexuality. But these are not ordinary times. The gap between 2008 and 2018 has been far more dynamic than most decades. As a sociologist, my specialty is behavior, so that will be my main focus. Here are five noteworthy narratives from the past decade. Each story constitutes a profound change, or reflects changes occurring within our most intimate relationships.

When Self-Help Means Less Help by Raymond C. Barfield

Learning to Live as If You’ll Die One Day

When I was kid, I thought that part of growing up would mean that I would get to make decisions on my own, without having a bunch of grownups telling me what I should do. I was wrong. The older we get, the more advice we get from doctors, self-help books, personal trainers, advertisers, and well-meaning vegetarian friends. I have probably retained too much of my childhood views of growing up, and I tend to resist advice. For example, at the risk of beginning this review with too much information, I feel compelled to confess that I am a fifty-three-year-old oncologist who has not had a colonoscopy. Some people—my doctor, for example—are not satisfied with busyness as a reason for me not to get the exam, but I can generate other rational reasons for my failure. I was told to get the exam when I turned fifty, and then to have it every ten years. The lifetime risk of colon cancer in men is roughly 4.5 percent. The median age at diagnosis is roughly sixty-five. This means the odds are in my favour. The exam probably would have been negative at fifty. Since I would not have had the exam again anyway for another ten years, maybe I can wait until I am sixty for my first colonoscopy. And by then, they might have an app for that. When I started reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s book Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to Live Longer, I realized that I was not alone in my small, private rebellion against some of my doctor’s opinions about how to be a happier, healthier, more productive version of myself.