There are, however, a number of things that have allowed a shift in our own national sexual practices which were unknown to earlier generations, including the early Soviet Union.
One is massive technological change in the field of medicine. Prior to the advent of antibiotics, gonorrhea and syphilis were not just potential consequences of sexual promiscuity but effectively untreatable and, in the case of syphilis, fatal. By contrast, the advent of effective treatments has led to a lowering of restraint, as we have also seen recently in the case of MSM (men having sex with men) and HIV (see here).
A second technological change is, of course, in the field of contraception, which undoubtedly increased the rates of extra-marital sex, particularly with the advent of the contraceptive pill in the 1960s, by lowering the risk of an unwanted child. Actually this was precisely one of the reasons why the Church of England opposed the availability of artificial contraception and what it warned would happen, back in its debates around the 1930s.
The third technological change was the advent of legal abortion. I call this a technological change because although the technology to carry out abortions with minimal risk to the life and health of the mother was there before the 1960s, the fact that it was not normally legal kept the technology from public access. Once again, this added to people's sense of security when engaging in intercourse without a desire for conception to occur (usually, though not always, outside marriage).
To these three technologies must finally be added a change in the attitude to, and provision of publicly-funded financial support for, single mothers. Previously, a child would have been regarded as the financial responsibility of its parents. Where this provision broke down there was the extended family to help and, beyond that, charities including the Church. In the post-war years, the removal of a sense of 'fault' in bearing an illegitimate child was combined with a policy of providing aid through public funds raised by taxation.
That, of course, itself depends on three things. One is the presumption by those in government that this is a right policy to follow. The second is the payment of taxes. And the third is wealth - a society following such a policy must be generating enough wealth to pay for it.
So whilst some may appeal to a change in human attitudes as driving the current changes in social practice, I would venture to suggest it is at least as much changes in human technology and the social economy that have actually driven the process.
We are where we are because we can, in more than one sense, afford to be there for the time being.
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