Feminist Author Revisits Her Predictions About Sex

LOS ANGELES—Call it a slow news day, but we were more than a little intrigued when we came across a post on PaleoFuture, a Gizmodo blog that examines the future that never was.

While most of the entries have to do with science and technology, this time around it was about sex. More specifically, it was about the future of sex, with the future being 2007.

In the January 1987 issue of the now defunct Omni magazine a myriad of celebrities wrote their predictions for what the world might look like in 2007. PaleoFuture author Matt Novak tracked down feminist author Barbara Ehrenreich to ask her about what she originally wrote.

“She responded with a note that the short piece attributed to her in Omni looked like something that was taken from an interview, rather than something she wrote,” Novak wrote. Either way, it's a fascinating (and rather prescient) look at the future of sex and relationships from the perspective of the 1980s.”

Among Ehrenreich’s observations and predictions:

A redefinition of heterosexual sex is occurring in which sex will be less bound to genital interaction. It's no longer just foreplay plus intercourse. The women's sexual revolution declared that women were not getting enough pleasure, and what is evolving is a much more varied kind of encounter that does not have to culminate in penetration and ejaculation by the man.

And this:

We won't rely on doctors or sexologists to define the problems or provide the answers. The biggest change in sex in the last 20 years has been that ordinary lay-people have begun to write about their experiences and have begun to introduce the subjective element.

And this:

In 20 years more people are going to have long periods of time when they are not in a marriage or other long-term sexual relationship. They should have options that do not depend on getting emotionally involved. You just might want to rent an exciting videotape instead of having an affair. I also think the sex-products industry will become important to people in monogamous marriage relationships and help keep those relationships together by an active interest in sexual possibilities.

Novak notes that some could comment on the mention of videotapes or the lack of mention of internet porn (the internet didn’t exist in 1987), but we note she seemed to be right on with her prediction about the rise of the sex toy industry. Nice predicting, Barbara!