Clark’s lecture focused on “Sex: Why is Europe Different?” She discussed the popular idea that Europeans are more open with their sexuality than Americans.
“Europeans tend to regard sex in a matter of fact way,” Clark said.
Many European couples live together, have children and only marry years later or “out of order” compared to Americans. The teenage birthrate is 15 to 19 percent compared to the United States’ 40.2 percent. Abortion rates are also lower in Europe than in America, Clark said.
Sex education must be taught in European schools and parents cannot pull their students out of the class. Schools provide condoms and birth control for students.
...Clark credited the welfare state and sexual liberation movements of Europe for the openness.
Throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, Europe saw a backlash against the church and its strict rules regarding homosexuality and pre-marital sex. After World War II, consumer societies replaced the church’s role. Women and teenagers began working, giving them a new-found independence and the birth control pill was introduced in 1961. The church could no longer respond to the changing society and church attendance fell.
Better welfare was also introduced. The government gave allowances to families, childcare for single women and universal healthcare.
“I always wondered why Europe was more liberal with sex, but the welfare state explains that,” said senior history major Kyle Mathers.