If we’re going to talk about the Sexual Revolution, let’s start by setting the stage. It’s the early 1960s and there are many things which we take for granted today that women did not have a right to do. Gen X, Y & Z women, can you imagine?
Shopping Spree. Not so fast, lady. No credit card without your hubby’s signature and not at all if you’re single.
12 Angry Men. It wasn’t until 1973 that women could serve on juries in all 50 states. Yes, I curse under my breath when I’m summoned, but it sheds a different light when you are not allowed to serve because you’re female.
Show Me the Money. We still aren’t batting 100, but in the early sixties women earned 59 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. Almost 6 decades later we’re up to 80.7 cents . . . leaps and bounds.
Singled Out. The Pill was approved for use as a contraceptive in 1960 but it wasn’t legal in all 50 states and you had to be married to get it. It was not prescribed to single girls.
Come Fly With Me. If you were hired as a flight attendant for Pan Am Airlines in the 1960s, your new employee orientation packet discussed height and weight requirements and maintaining a soft face and hands. Resignation required if you tie the knot and mandatory retirement at age 32 for all “Stewardesses”!
Love Is. Twin beds? I'm old enough to have witnessed it but I still have a difficult time getting my head around a married television couple sleeping in separate beds. But that’s how they rolled in the 1960s sitcom the Dick Van Dyke Show. This means the network executives believed that grown up people could not handle seeing consenting adults - wearing full on pajamas and engaged only in consensual discussion - in the same bed. Non-Reality TV.
Sixty years ago, women did not have the rights they do today and the country did not want to talk about sex out loud or acknowledge it in polite society – twin beds, really? Of course all that suppression led to inevitable change. There are differing opinions about what actually got the Sexual Revolution going but it did get going and changed forever the way we think about gender and sexuality.
I don’t believe the Sexual Revolution was about how often we have sex or how we do it or with whom. It was more of a seismic shift in the status quo. Example: In the 60s some people actually believed that single women didn’t experience orgasm because their sexuality had not yet been awoken by their husbands to be. So the thought that a woman would have sex before marriage or use birth control or experience an orgasm on her own was preposterous.
We’ve come a long way, baby. But I’m not so sure that we should think of the Sexual Revolution as over as long as we’re still evolving and open to the possibilities.
This National History Month, we’ll look at the lives of four heroines of the Sexual Revolution beginning with Helen Gurley Brown. Outspoken and often controversial, Cosmopolitan Magazine editor and author -- a fascinating woman!
Article written by Laurie McMordie, Co-Owner/Designer Activ Intimates