60 second seminar: Was there a sexual revolution in the 1960s?


Was there a sexual revolution in the
1960s? Well, yes and no. Yes, in that the arrival of the contraceptive pill in 1961,
which was first for married women but later extended in the decade to all
women, really transformed women’s lives. It took out that fear of pregnancy when
women had sex with men. There was also a series of liberalising legislation that
came in, the first being the 1959 Obscene Publications Act, which meant that books
like “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” could be published in full for the first time.
1967, you get the decriminalisation of abortion that have been illegal up to
then, and you also get male homosexuality in private being legalised. However, if
you talk to people who lived through the 60s, many of them say the sexual
revolution must have been happening elsewhere, and a survey done at the end
of the decade reveals a quarter of men and two-thirds of women were virgins on
marriage. If you were a single mother it was still very much stigmatised, and if
you were cohabiting it was still called living in sin. So although those seeds of
sexual revolution may have started in the 1960s, it didn’t come to fruition until the
1970s. you

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