The Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s Sex and the 1960’s The 1960’s was a decade of many changes, revolutions, and experiments including the sexual revolution brought on by the ‘sixties generation’. Free love was a popular term coined in the later sixties that meant everyone should love each other, sexually and non sexually. This was the first time in history that sex was not something only men could enjoy but women too. What came from this revolution was birth control, knowledge of the female anatomy, the start to legalizing abortion, and woman’s liberation.
These may all sound like common things to have or know about but at the time these were all groundbreaking and changed many lives. The 1950’s were extremely different from the 1960’s, with many different beliefs and social norms. Men and women dated only to select a partner for marriage. The main goal for women at the time was to become a wife and a mother instead of pursuing her own pleasures.
Women were conditioned from early childhood to become a housewife. Women were also expected to be virgins until they got married which kept them from any kind of sexual experimentation or experience.
Women were only to have one sexual partner their entire lives because divorce was not acceptable. Women also refrained from sex because the fear of becoming pregnant or getting diseases was overwhelming. These social norms for the 1950’s supported the male dominance in sex; that only men were meant and supposed to enjoy it. Things would soon change in the upcoming decade. In previous years men and women did not live together before marriage because it was not appropriate to be or sleep with a man whom you were not married to. With all the changes occurring at the time this soon changed as well.
Many college students wanted an unstructured relationship instead of getting married right away. Bill, a graduate student from the University of California, who lived with his ‘girlfriend’ at the time had no idea or intentions of marriage. He said “I have the image of marriage as a contractual, non romantic, relationship in which nothing happens. Just living together, you feel young, and you’re not tied down by joint possessions” (Bloom 266). The way Bill sees marriage is more or less how it was presented to them and previous generations. Marriage seemed more like a business agreement instead of something romantic based on true love and artnership. This new generation started living with their mates before thinking about marriage, which is a great way to get to know someone more intimately and can sway your decision for marriage. Bill also said “Its an exercise in living. You realize the other person has tensions, and you tolerate their moods” (Bloom 266). The sixties generation started a trend that is still upheld today, living with a mate without having to marry them. This new concept has most likely saved many people from marrying the wrong person. This is not the only change that would be coming in this decade.
The free love concept was growing more and more popular. Youths in the later half of the 1960’s were no longer held back by judgment, hatred, or clothing. Nudism and naked parties became extremely common and one of the cool things to do. This concept was especially popular in California, more specifically the University of California and Berkeley College. “As they do at countless collegiate parties everywhere, the couples wriggled to the watusi and gyrated to the jerk, while recorded drums and saxophones resounded in the dimly lit apartment of a University of California student in Berkeley.
Unlike parties most anywhere, however, the boys and girls were naked. After a while some of the couples drifted into bedrooms. Some in darkened corners. First it was free speech, then filthy speech. Now it is free love, as students, former students, and non students, continue to test the limits of the permissible at Berkeley” (Bloom 267). Not only were the orgies becoming more frequent and popular but college students started wearing buttons that said “take it off” and “I’m willing if you are”. Sex was popping up everywhere, especially on college campuses since 1964 when Dr.
Leo Koch, a bio teacher, was fired for advocating premarital sex (Bloom 268). The younger generation was horrified that such a thing would happen. They had worked for free speech and now they were working on free sex. In fact, one of their main demands was that college health services provide contraceptives to any students desiring them and insisted that sexual conduct in private was strictly a personal matter not to be regulated by schools or laws (Bloom 268). Today this is something we take for granted. Schools across the country gladly hand out contraceptives and we can thank the baby boomers for the free condoms.
Not only were colleges becoming more sexual but so was the media. Girls were trading in their one piece bathing suites, pedal-pushers, and bobby sox for the mini skirt, bikinis, and topless bathing suites. 1960’s also gave birth to pornography which became extremely popular amongst males. Playboy magazine began selling more and more copies of their ultra sexual content. The more sexual the younger generation became the more concerned the older generation became. Non baby boomers thought the sixties generation had no morals.
Parents were alarmed by reports of high school pregnancies, heavy drinking, and sexual activity going on at the drive-in-theater of every kind and degree (Anderson 92). The later it got in the decade, the more obsessed the youth became with sex. Having sex no longer reflected on your morals or meant that you were going to marry your partner. An Ohio State senior said: “We’ve discarded the idea that the loss of virginity is related to degeneracy. Premarital sex doesn’t mean the downfall of society, at least not the kind of society we’re going to build” (Anderson 92).
Virginity was no longer something women wanted to keep and hold on to. Some women even said it was a relief to lose their virginity. As women became more sexually active the more concerned they became with pregnancy. Birth control was invented in the 1950’s to help women with severe menstrual symptoms. In the 1960’s it was available exclusively to married women to prevent pregnancy. Women who were sexually active but not married would borrow a friend’s wedding ring when going to get their birth control for the first time so they could take advantage of it. This new pill made women feel more free and liberated.
The release of birth control made women feel in control of their bodies but there was also more pressure put on them by men to have sex. Sex was no longer an activity only for men to enjoy. Prior to this time there was little knowledge about the female anatomy. It was believed that women achieved orgasm vaginally and if she did not achieve orgasm she was ‘frigid’ and must be psychologically treated (Bloom 423). On the contrary, women achieve orgasm by stimulation of the clitoris, the female equivalent to the penis. If a woman was frigid the blame was put on her and she would have to fix this ‘problem’ herself.
Not only did this make women self conscious but they also became sexually deprived. Many women were afraid to establish their right to equal enjoyment, seeing the sexual act as being primarily for the man’s benefit, and any pleasure that women got was an added bonus (Bloom 424). Women began gaining knowledge about their bodies in the 60’s and started to realize that sex wasn’t just for men to enjoy, but women too. They could have fun and actually enjoy themselves while having a sexual encounter which was relatively knew. This knowledge and trend is still around to this day, proof that the 1960’s was extremely influential.
The Sexual revolution in the 1960’s changed the lives of Americans for generations to come. This revolution gave birth to premarital sex, living with a romantic partner without intent to marry, birth control pills, distribution of contraceptives, knowledge of the female sex organs, and freedom to talk about such things. Although what is listed above is normal and regular today, it would not be if the sexual revolution in the 1960’s did not occur. Who knows where this generation would be. Now we have more information about sex which leads to safer sex. Safe sex is good sex, and I’m sure baby boomers agree.
Cite this The Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s
The Sexual Revolution of the 1960’s. (2016, Sep 17). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/the-sexual-revolution-of-the-1960s/