Social Movements and Trends: Sexual Liberation

In the 1960’s, America was in a state of continuous change. America was seeing a new trend and one of these changes was sexual revolution. The ultra-conservative ways of the country were on a steady decline, and liberalism was at an all-time high. Citizens were beginning to be outspoken when questioning their government about its activities. Housewives were challenging the “stay-at-home” norms, and the youth of America was beginning to have a voice.

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Sexual liberation became a very heavy subject on the minds of citizens and politicians alike. The sexual revolution that took place in the 1960’s not only was a catalyst to the voice of political reform, women’s rights, and gay and lesbian rights, it also resulted in some serious changes in the way America viewed sexual activities for women. Medical reform on women’s reproductive rights was introduced, a new relaxation of censorship laws erupted, and traditional societal norms were challenged.

One of the major catalysts for the sexual liberation during the 1960s was the introduction of the birth control pill, also known as the “Pill”. In the 1960s the Pill went on the market. Unlike any other previously available form of contraception, the pill was both reliable and controlled by a woman herself. The taking of this pill did require neither the consent nor the knowledge of her sexual partner (Cohen).

Many Americans view the sexual revolution as an idea that sparked from the Flower Child counter-culture, which was blazing across America like a wildfire. With the increased drug activity, and the ever-popular phrase “Make Love, Not War,” free love and sexual liberation went hand in hand with the reform on society the hippie’s lifestyle stood for (Sexuality & Modernity: The Sexual Revolution of the 60s). Refusing anti-capitalism views, the hippies pushed liberation from all constraints, and privatizing sexual identity was one of those constraints. The hippies introduced a new view of thinking for Americans; they were pushing for political reform on the sexual agenda (Sexuality and Modernity).

While the hippies were spreading their views on sexuality, another movement, women’s rights, was also changing views on sexuality and reproductive rights. With the rise of feminism, a new voice came who spoke for women’s liberation from the common “housewife” role, to an individual being of sexuality and free will (Cohen). The Pill unlocked the gate to a psychological mind-set of a life beyond having kids and being a housewife. It gave women opportunities and freedom they didn’t have before (People & Events: The Pill and the Sexual Revolution).

Despite the social conservatives’ agenda, as the decade advance, societal emphases on virginity and marriage were slowly replaced by a celebration of single life and sexual exploration. The sexual revolution was a lot more than free love and sex. It was a shift in norms, traditions, customs, and culture. The lasting impacts of the sexual revolution are present in today’s culture and political agenda. Sexual liberation was tied to radical outcomes. The so called “swinging sixties” has become a symbol for modern-day social conflict. For progressives it is regarded as a time of revolutionary turbulence, which ushered in much needed social change, increased commercialization and normalization of sexuality through pornography and mass media. ushering in the civil rights movements, and women’s empowerment.

People & Events: The Pill and the Sexual Revolution. (n.d.). Retrieved September 15, 2014, from

Cohen, S. (n.d.). The Religious Consultationon Population, Reproductive Health and Ethics revisiting the world’s sacred traditions. Retrieved September 16, 2014, from

Sexuality & Modernity: The Sexual Revolution of the 60s. (n.d.). Retrieved September 16, 2014.

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