Sex and the Baby Boomers: Free Love
Sex and the baby boomers went together like fish and chips. It was the era of "free love", flower power, paisley headbands, and psychedelic drugs.
I'm a baby boomer. I was born between 1946 and 1964, which is the defining era for us baby boomers. We are between 47 and 65 years old today and back then, we thought we invented sex, or "free love". Baby-boomer sex, my oh my, did we have fun!! We had the pill, you see, and we didn't have AIDS back then--also, most sexually transmitted diseases were NOT resistant to penicillin. It was pretty much a sexual free-for-all, as I recall coming of age in the late 1970s. People wore bell bottoms and Afros and headbands. The motto was, "Make love, not war", and thousands of young men resisted being drafted to go to Vietnam and fight an undeclared war that NO ONE believed in. Those young men stayed home and had plenty of baby-boomer sex with baby-boomer women draft resisters. The baby-boomers were IMMERSED IN SEX! It was the main part of our music, our lifestyle, our liberation from our parents.
In the immortal words of Stephen King, "Everybody got laid. Everybody!." That was his recolllection of the late sixties and early seventies, and it matches my own. It was considered uncool to still be a virgin after the age of 16 years old, or so. Baby boomers had sex; men and women, too. It was not considered cool for a girl to save her virginity for marriage, anymore. Most guys seem to expect a girl to "put out" (or have sex with them--graceful parlance, no?)--after the second or third date. A guy would drop you cold if you didn't.
Baby boomers had sex, often, with an ever-changing cast of partners. It was something we thought we invented. It was called "free love". As if love is ever free!
"Baby Boomers" were the aftermath of World War II.
Before baby boomers came of age, the big spike in babies, in population, that happened after WWII, when the men came home from the war, sparked a new image of the nuclear family, sponsored by television, the new medium.
Women stayed home and took care of the house and kids. Men were the breadwinners; men went out to work. This style of family living was promoted on television, with shows like Father Knows Best, Leave it to Beaver; even The Dick Van Dyke Show ;even I Love Lucy. Lucy deferred to her man. She got into all kinds of mischief trying to conceal something he wouldn't like from him.
This was a deliberate media manipulation of the social context we baby boomers were brought up in. During WWII, many women took the place of men in the workforce as the men went off to war, and proved themselves to be very competent workers in many fields previously exclusively dominated by men. When all these men came back from the war (the ones who survived more or less intact), they all needed jobs. So women were once again relegated to the backseat in the workforce. And it was done by manipulating the most powerful public images; television. We baby boomers have the distinction of being the first "television generation".
"What does this have to do with sex?", you may ask.
For women, a LOT! Our baby-boomer expectations were mixed. Part of us longed for the white wedding and the house with the picket fence and two cats in the yard...Part of us longed for the security our mothers experienced, with social acceptance of dependence on your man for a living...it wasn't HER worry, it was HIS. She kept the house and made the beds and cooked the meals and took care of the babies. She didn't have to worry where the money came from (ideally). He went out to work every day and came home for supper. "Wait till you father gets home!" was the common cry.
The thing about it is, with virginity out the window...nobody buys the cow when they can get the milk for free.
These sexy baby boomers with their "free love" message to the world changed the world of women, forever. We, the baby-boomer generation, liberated women from the home, from being exclusively homemakers. Forever.
Baby boomer sex was a mixed blessing for this free-love generation. It was a VERY mixed blessing, for women.
We baby-boomer women got on the Pill when we were 16 years old, or so. We then could have sex without worrying about babies coming along. We then could please those boys out there that we sighed over, romantically. We could have dates!
They weren't sighing over us, romantically. We found out--they just wanted to get into our pants. They were young and randy. They had the permanent bachelor mentality--after all, why not? It isn't as though you have to do without sex if you're not married, anymore.
It was hurtful to we women, after all. It was just terrible to realize that all we were to our beloved was a piece of a$$. Many women became single mothers, with that whole separate challenge to deal with.
Marriage became impermanent; maybe because of the sex thing, I don't know. For our generation has experienced over a 50% divorce rate.
And in the workplace, there was still the vast glass ceiling to deal with. Women still do get paid less than men. They are less promotable than men. Equivalent skills earn less money for women than for men.
Though part of us wanted what our mothers had, the security of home and family; the mainstay of a primary breadwinner in the form of a permanent husband, maybe the larger part of us rejected this lifestyle.
We didn't want to be second-class citizens all our lives. We didn't want to defer to a man, in everything. We didn't want to be referred to, dismissively, as "the little woman". We wanted our own place in the world. We wanted to use our brains and have our ideas respected. We wanted to make our own mark in the world, independently of a man.
I think we wanted to have our cake and eat it too, and people just can't do that. To get something, you have to give up something. It's just the way the world works. So, if we women want sexual independence and financial freedom, maybe we had to give up the house with the white picket fence. Maybe we had to give up the white wedding. Maybe we had to give up the traditional role of homemaker. Maybe that just isn't an option for women anymore.
What happened? What happened to us?
Now, considering our age, we are either menopausal or post-menopausal. In a recent sex survey, 53% of women baby boomers said that sex is no longer important to them in a relationship. " WOW!" I thought, "It all came to nought in the end." Baby boomers don't even want to have sex anymore!
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