Have American Attitudes on Sexuality Become More Complicated Since the 1960s? | Homework Help
Have American Attitudes on Sexuality Become More Complicated Since the 1960s?
The pill as a method of birth control was introduced in America in 1960. This marked the period of the sexual revolution in the history of America. The pill, unlike previous contraceptives, gave women freedom to control their reproduction and sexuality. Upon its launch, the pill was widely accepted by many as it was claimed to have no health side effects. The prime beneficiaries of the pill were young women and girls who felt that they needed to handle their sexuality matters. Other than granting women sexual liberty, the pill influenced the various forms of sexual identity such as gay men, lesbianism, interracial marriage, and same-sex marriage among others. These sexually related topics dominated the public in an open manner that was different from before. Therefore, the sexual revolution changed the American sexuality issues that became more complicated (Goldin 1).
Before the introduction of the pill, women had limited opportunities with regard to education and professionalism. They often dropped from schools and employment avenues due to pregnancy and would later seek to continue when their kid reached school going age. Similarly, women could not engage in premarital or extramarital sexual relationships given the bad images associated with adultery and promiscuity. Any child born of an unmarried woman would be granted a birth certificate indicated as illegitimate. The mother could also be viewed by the society as promiscuous. These prejudices combined with women oppression in this era gave women a low status in the society (Goldin 3).
The situations illustrated below are representative for the way in which the sexual revolution complicated Americas approach to sexuality.
Increased Cases of Multiple Sexual Partners
It was noted that, the sexual revolution came along with an increased number of cases of multiple sexual partners between unmarried adolescents and adults. Both unmarried men and women engaged in their first sexual encounter at increasingly younger ages. The American culture of late marriage increased the cases of earlier sexual experimentation especially with the launch of the pill and shift of sex goals. This is because the young men and women had more time to gain sexual experience with numerous partners before they entered lifetime monogamous relationships in marriage. Moreover, this led to increased cases of divorce and to lessening of the stigma associated with divorce. These factors increased the desire for married men and women to engage in extra-marital relationships. With the launching of the pill and its consequences, women and men born in the period between 1935 and 1945 had higher instances of premarital exposure than their counterparts who had been born earlier (Cohen n.p).
Shifts in Traditions and Attitudes
The sexual revolution marked immense shifts in the traditions and attitudes towards homosexuality, womens sexuality, and the freedom of sexual expression by Americans. This was the culmination of three essential developments in the American story. These were the intellectual contribution of the theorist Wilhelm Reich, the battles of pornographers, and sex literature writers. Wilhelms research focused on building the relationship between biological sexual energies (libido) and the various sexual capacities (anal, oral, and genital) together with the social norms designed to regulate them especially in monogamous marriage. Wilhelm concluded that the various sexual capacities (anal and oral) that were against American norms gave equal biological satisfaction as genital sex. He discovered that homosexuality through these capacities was more common in America than anyone had imagined. Kinsey, Wilhelms counterpart reported that at least 37 percent men in the US had at least one exposure to homosexuality by the time they attained old age. He also reported that women were more interested in sex that went beyond recreation intentions unlike the previous perception by most psychologists and sociologists. These researches altered the traditional belief of women and sex between female partners that they had difficulty in realizing orgasm (Social sciences 1).
Battles of Pornographers
Pornography and the publication of movies with sexual information has always been a profitable business not only in the US but also in many other countries. The sexual revolution period gave a chance to pornographers to battle for a chance, to discuss sexual matters publicly, and cast real sexuality on movies and live performances. The legal fights that took place during the sexual revolution altered the meaning of obscenity in the American society. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of sex and pornography, creating a public ground in which it was permitted to discuss sex and symbolize it both literally and visually (Kilian 3).
Struggle of Homosexuals
The sexual revolution that saw increased sexual freedom before and during marriage triggered the homosexuals to seek legal recognition. In earlier years, gays and lesbians existed, but they could not be noted publicly due to their used of heavily coded signs while communicating. The come out of the closet slogan encouraged men who were interested in lifetime gay to pursue their liberation. The American novelist Brad Gooch referred the 1970s as the Golden Age of Promiscuity. This is because the freedom that had been instituted by the sexual revolution permitted the gay people to have sexual activities in clubs and bathhouses (Kilian 4&5).
The sexual revolution era that was marked by the launch of the birth pill complicated the sexual attitudes of the Americans. This presented more sexual opportunities because issues that in the earlier decades had been temptations became everyday realities. The institution of marriage was hit by increased cases of extramarital sex and divorce. The pill that was widely accepted by both married and unmarried women solved the fear of pre-marital or extra-marital pregnancies. Gay men and pornographers gained legal recognition, and this lowered the sacredness of sexual matters and the need for heterosexual marriage. The primary goal of sex shifted from procreation to pleasure, and people would engage in sexual activity anytime and with anyone despite their marital status or gender.
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http://www.pubtheo.com/page.asp?pid=1713. 2012. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.
Goldin, Claudia. The Quiet revolution that Transformed Womens employment, Education, and
Family.2006. Web Source. http://scholar.harvard.edu/files/goldin/files/the_quiet_revolution_that_transformed_womens_employment_education_and_family.pdf. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.
Kilian, Gary. Queering Art Before, after and During the Sexual revolution (1960-1980): A
Study of Aesthetics and Subversion.2011. Web Source. http://digitalcommons.macalester.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1007&context=macreview. Retrieved on 26 November 2013.
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http://www.glbtq.com/social-sciences/sexual_revolution.html. Retrieved on 26 Nov. 2013