06 heinäkuu 2012 kohti 15:18

Sexual revolution

Sexual revolution

The 1960s and Sexual Revolution

The term “sexual revolution” was already used at the beginning of the 20th century, but usually the notion of sexual revolution implies the changes in society and public consciousness which appeared in the 1960s. For many centuries the life of an average person and the society in general was regulated by strict imperatives and religious prohibition. Up to the early 20th century sex was a taboo.
However, at the beginning of the century public consciousness started to change gradually. There appeared the suffrage movement and later on the feminist movement. The First World War resulted in the decline of public morality for a rather long period of time which in many countries came to an end with the fall of democracy and establishment of a dictatorship.
Later, after the Second World War had ended, there appeared a completely different rising generation with unusual views and beliefs who literally blew the minds of their conservative parents. It was the first generation of “prosperity” that did not know either the war or the mass unemployment, and consequently did not share the values of the previous generation. Their parents having seen a completely different life attached great importance to material values. In contrast, the youth was against the values of consumer society, they noticed its threat which their parents had failed to spot. 
What caused this revolution? There are people who are strongly convinced that it was the invention of contraceptive pills that gave rise to the sexual revolution. However, it is not so. A great number of factors played their roles in the beginning of the revolution. In the 1960s, there occurred the civil rights movement, the university reform movement which immediately developed into the pacifist movement against the war in Vietnam. With the help of television the youth could see American soldiers and Vietnamese children dying and could not understand why it was happening and what for it was necessary to become cannon fodder and go to kill and die for the unknown or alien to them political purposes. The role models for the youth were not officials but revolutionaries like Che Guevara. In 1964 real disturbances broke out at the University of Berkley. The youth was burning with the real idea, the idea of pacifism for the first time. It was the first real genuine mass upsurge ever. As a rule such “ardent” mass actions are skillfully provoked by politicians exactly for military purposes, as it happened, for example, on the eve of World War I. But at that time…the youth refused to serve in the army, demanded to protect universities from the military influence, opposed everything they considered to be wrong. The spirit of freedom was hovering in the air. A lot of the participants of those events claim that “this feeling, the feeling that what you are doing is right, cannot be rendered by any words. You should have been there at that time.” 
On the wave of those events and pacifist mood there appeared new movements of the youth, new trends in music. Jefferson Airplane, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Janis Joplin, The Doors, Elvis Presley, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, Bob Marley and many other musicians became world-famous precisely in the 1960s. The sexual revolution of the 1960s cannot be possibly separated from these events. 
The main idea of the sexual revolution lies not in the least in general immorality and permissiveness. Most likely it was a peculiar protest against the hypocrisy of politicians, imposing their lifestyle on people, manipulation and depriving people of happiness. It was considered essential to refuse strict, often unnatural standards of behaviour which people were greatly used to and which made them unhappy for such a long period of time. Sexual revolution does not imply a personal right to have group sex in public, as is claimed by many of its opponents, first of all it is a mental revolution. Some theorists (Reich) suggested, for example, refusing “premarital chastity” and allowing marriage since the age of 16. The same Reich in his work “The Function of the Orgasm” explained that the necessity to substitute “sexual despondency, the system of brothels, erotic literature and sexual industry with natural happiness of love guaranteed by the society” does not at all imply family breakup in the traditional sense. The purpose of the sexual revolution was not mass sex happenings which sometimes were practiced by the hippie culture.
That is why it is surprising that a great number of people even in the 21st century cannot get rid of a stereotypic idea that the sexual revolution was a temporary mass sexual insanity. The sexual revolution struggled against forced morality. It is due to this revolution that now we can engage in unequal marriages, lead a more free life, create non-traditional families; women can control fertility, speak about their sexual needs and problems without any damage to the reputation, have a baby born out of wedlock, they have gained a right of career development, extramarital affairs, abortion, celibacy, divorce. Sex is not considered sinful anymore. 
But the sexual revolution did not have only positive consequences for our society. People have acquired a much simpler attitude towards sex that has led to a growing number of sexually transmitted diseases and a range of wide-spread psychological problems. A family model has appeared shaken if not destroyed. Intensification of feminism has made a lot of men stop showing gallantry towards women.
One fact remains unquestionable – the 1960s had a significant influence on the development of our society.

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The term sexual revolution designates a substantial change in morality about sexuality in Western countries, which took place between the late sixties and early seventies of the twentieth century.

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Davis Layne

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