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Sex and the Baby Boomers: Free Love

Updated on October 24, 2011

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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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 22 months ago from Queensland Australia

      This really brought back he memories. Well done. Very enjoyable read.

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 5 years ago from LA

      Some bad things we put in place are still being perpetuated. Free love will always be indulged in. It's never a good idea. "Loving" the one you're with is extremely dangerous.

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 5 years ago from LA

      Enjoy the nostalgia while it lasts Boomers, According to William Strauss and Neil Howe in The Fourth Turning, " The Boom generation will lead... (during the crisis of the"Fourth Turning", which began in 2005)... at a time of maximum danger-and opportunity. From here on Boomers will face the unfamiliar challenge of self restraint.

    • Kathryn L Hill profile image

      Kathryn L Hill 5 years ago from LA

      We were a First Turning generation:1943-1964. Read Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe. The Fourth Turning was a future event when they wrote the book in 1997. They wrote, "The continued maturation of Boomers is vital for the Crisis (of the fourth turning which begins in 2005) to end in triumph..." and this: Old Boomers will find transcendence in the Crisis climax. As they battle time and nature to win their release from history they will feel themselves in a position to steward the nation, and perhaps the world, across several painful thresholds...If they fail their misdeeds will cast a shadow over the entire twenty first century, perhaps beyond." (page 287) E

      Enjoy the nostalgia while you can.

    • Brett.Tesol profile image

      Brett Caulton 6 years ago from Thailand

      You have a fantastic writing style that pulls the reader along with your words. It was interesting to read, but sounds like it was FAR more interesting to live through! lol. I think even now, many younger generations are trying to 'outperform' that era, but none have succeeded yet ... it really was a time of change.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      I think I will have to agree with you Paradise7.

    • Paradise7 profile image
      Author

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Duchess, and I believe you were more blessed than cursed by being an observer rather than a participator.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      I'm one of those baby boomers too, and while I was quite aware of what was happening around me, I was not a part of it. It seems I have spent my life observing for the most part.

      I agree - it's ironic that to many of our generation, sex has become only a small part of what make a relationship work.

      Interesting article Paradise7.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Roy. I found it interesting. My topic was actually about how the baby boomer generation changed society for women, and changed our sexual mores. That was my topic, so that's what I talked about. There were many other things happening during that time that a person could talk about. You're right, there.

    • Roy Perrin profile image

      Roy Perrin 6 years ago from Jacksonville, NC

      I remember talking to my mom about some things for a school project one time. We had to ask what they remembered about things like the moon landing, the assassinations of JFK, RFK, MLK, John Lennon and also the whole civil rights movement. I learned a lot about how She remembered things, but it was also an opinion that represented the majority of the population (I assume).

      I love that I can say I was alive while Elvis was still alive (even if it was only for a few months). My point is that if it's true that history remembers things differently, then I think you would be happy to know that history remembers your time for much bigger things than the free love movement.

      Every generation has that "where were you when (fill in the blank)" and it's amazing how frequently that changes. For me (I'm 34 now) it was for years the Space Shuttle Challenger. Now it's more like 9/11, but even my own children don't understand what happened in that case. they remember the things we tell them. So if you want the BB generation to be remembered for great things, talk about great things.

      Great hub. voted up and interesting.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you so much!!! Acaetnna, you're the best.

    • acaetnna profile image

      acaetnna 6 years ago from Guildford

      This was a real eye opener and incredibly intriguing. A riveting and informative hub. Great thank you for sharing. Voting up and pressing your buttons too.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Lizzie Boo. I'm glad you liked it. I think this one got kinda mixed reviews, but most of the American women from my generation could relate.

    • lizzieBoo profile image

      lizzieBoo 6 years ago from England

      I feel an affinity with the stuff you write about. I'm looking forward to reading more, and following!

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Longhorn. Here's how you do it: at the very top of your browser, right-clight on the "http:....", select copy. Go to hub pages, sign in, go to your hub, select "edit", select "add link", open the capsule, right-click where is says "URL", select "Paste", and save. There. You did it!

    • LonghornGI profile image

      LonghornGI 6 years ago from Lives in Austin, Texas

      Great read! I have an upcoming HUB that I'd like to link to this one...I just don't know how to do it.

      Looking forward to reading more!

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Jaspals!

    • Jaspals profile image

      Jaspal Singh 6 years ago from India / Australia

      Wonderful Hub with a lot of insight. Really very interesting as well informative. I would like to read more on this topic. Thanks for sharing.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Neil. I guess you really enjoyed the baby boomer era. I did too, to some extent. I think, though, when I finally grew up I was ready for it to be over.

      I'm a non-conformist type person, still, and am glad the aftershock of the baby boomer generation lets me be one, without being a social outcast.

    • Neil Sperling profile image

      Neil Sperling 6 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

      Freedom to BE and the freedom from traditions is what the world needs more of.... great hub - I enjoyed it and enjoyed the memories.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Brewski!

    • brewskitimeguy profile image

      brewskitimeguy 6 years ago from Maine

      great hub...very thought provoking

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, DD, for that insightful comment.

    • Deborah Demander profile image

      Deborah Demander 6 years ago from First Wyoming, then THE WORLD

      This is a well written hub. I can see the double edged sword of the free sex era. Good for men, not so good for us. With all that freedom comes a lot of responsibility, unfortunately, society isn't ready even still to give women the same responsibilities (paycheck) as men. Thanks for a thought provoking hub.

      Namaste.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      You're welcome for the comment. Thank you for reciprocating--really, so few people do!! But, I know that's not what it's all about...

      I didn't burn my bra, either. I need the support!

      I'm glad you liked this hub. It got mixed reviews!

    • profile image

      Daydreamer Too 6 years ago

      Thank you for your comment today :)

      I can identify with this although, I refused to burn my bra back then, and I'd refuse even more so, now!

      As they say: No way Jose`

      Great hub, thank you.

    • Paradise7 profile image
      Author

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks, Katie, I'm glad you understand us boomers a little better now. I could understand if you had issues with us. It was also the "me" generation; a selfish one, if the truth be told. But don't tell any of the other boomers I said that. We'd deny it, vehemently!

    • katiem2 profile image

      katiem2 6 years ago from I'm outta here

      Awe baby boomers, I have a few complaints about baby boomers, my parents are from this generation and well they seem different and unwilling to understand what our generation faces. Now that I understand better sex and the baby boomers, I have a much clearer insight as to how the work, think and feel. Great report. :) Katie

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Glad you like it, Andre!

    • andrebreynolds profile image

      andrebreynolds 6 years ago

      Hahaha nice pic above. :D

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Dear Epigramman and Cogerson: Thank you so much for your comments.

      Really, epi--I blush, you compliment me way too much!! You're the witty one!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...great film clip of Sonny and Cher (and all of the musicians in the background) - I really enjoyed that one!

      ...and yes the beat does go on !!!!!

    • epigramman profile image

      epigramman 6 years ago

      ...well you certainly got my attention with this title and that first picture - lol - and then I settled down to enjoy another thought provoking, richly detailed and essential hub by one of our 'finest' and yes we've got you babe as your loyal followers would say here at the Hub!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 6 years ago from Virginia

      Very well done....you easily painted a picture I could imagine well reading your hub.....voted way up....great job

    • Paradise7 profile image
      Author

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Ruffridyer, I'm sorry for your loss. It sounds to me like you did everything right.

      THAT Mary Ann-- you are very welcome for the memories.

    • profile image

      THAT Mary Ann 6 years ago

      Thanks for the memories....

      rated up

    • profile image

      ruffridyer 6 years ago from Dayton, ohio

      I am a boomer but I came in late. I wasn't impressed with hippies and the only drugs I took were asprin. I graduated in 73, so vietnam was almost over. Okay, I tried marijiana a couple of times. I wasn't impressed. The only thing it did was burn my throat. I perfered beer. As for Sex I was always on the lookout but I was a very shy boy. I ended up marrying the first,[and only] girl I ever slept with. It worked out thought, we joined the Mormon Church, Had 2 wonderful boys, Have 6 grandkids. We were together for 31 yrs, then she died from diabeties, 3 yrs later still miss her every day.

    • Paradise7 profile image
      Author

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, Aris, for the comment. Us boomers have to stick together!

    • Aris Budianto profile image

      Aris Budianto 6 years ago from Lying along the equator Country

      I do believe the survey about women's sex and thanks for the "BB" hubs.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      I'm glad, too, sofs. Free love wasn't what it was cracked up to be; and maybe it wasn't EVERYBODY, it just seemed like that at the time.

      The response to the royal wedding makes me think people still love the tradtions; have hope for romance; want a permanent relationship.

    • sofs profile image

      sofs 6 years ago

      Paradise, that is a whole new world that you described in this hub. I still like the white wedding and the picket fence with the two cats in the yard. Wow, am I glad that in this part of the world I live in, things haven't changed too much.. yipeeeeee I still get to see the white weddings :)

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      You're welcome!

    • Anne Pettit profile image

      Anne Pettit 6 years ago from North Carolina

      Thank-you for a wonderful hub.

    • Paradise7 profile image
      Author

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      You're welcome, Chatkath, and thank you for the comment.

    • Chatkath profile image

      Kathy 6 years ago from California

      Thank you Paradise, boomer here and I can relate! I can even still remember most of it, for now anyway! Thanks for sharing!

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, ahorseback and Alastar for your comments.

      Ahorseback, I can certainly understand why you think it was the beginning of the end of decent family values and can also see a downward trend in today's family relationships.

      Alastar: June Cleaver (the mother on Leave it to Beaver, for all you folks not from America) was the prototype for the suburban housewife and mother. Like I said, it was one strange dream...I think I didn't even know many married women of my generation back then...everybody seemed content to live with everybody else, until they got tired of it. See what I mean about the decay in nuclear family values????

    • Alastar Packer profile image

      Alastar Packer 6 years ago from North Carolina

      June Cleaver was my all time fantasy mom, seriously. She would never burn her bra or any such thing...lol. It was an irresponsible time sexually and from my perspective the women were as bad or even worse than the men; especially the married ones.(I steered clear of those in wed-lock, just observed.) Speaking of perspectives, your's is a very good one here Paradise and I'm glad you wrote this.

    • ahorseback profile image

      ahorseback 6 years ago

      I too grew up a baby boomer , though I don't share the enthusiasm so many feel about the times. It truly was a "free and easy " lifestyle . But I really believe it was the beginning of the end of a culture of decency and conformity for Americans. Since then I see a spiraling downward for western culture in general. It's difficult to watch the whitewashing of oppinions about the value of the sixties and seventies. In a lot of ways there was no value . But I enjoyed the trip down memory lane.....:-]Vote up.

    • Paradise7 profile image
      Author

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thanks for the comment, Laura. Hey--you know, after writing this hub, I had a little DREAM about June Cleaver burning her bra!! UGH! In public--it was VERY STRANGE. Funny you should mention bra-burning.

      Yeah, you know, I remember the whole thing as a basically irresponsible good time. I don't believe I've felt so free since. It was fun while it lasted.

      The aftermath was something else, though.

      The hub score goes up and down. You're right up there, yourself, Laura, very deservedly.

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 6 years ago from South Africa

      Congratulations on your well deserved 100 hubber score!

    • Laura du Toit profile image

      Laura du Toit 6 years ago from South Africa

      Woodstock, hippies and flower power. Burn the bra and the whole caboodle. Those were great days were they not? I would not have wanted to grow up in my children's era and even less in that of my parent's. Great hub!

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, prasetio and Dave for your comments.

    • Dave Mathews profile image

      Dave Mathews 6 years ago from NORTH YORK,ONTARIO,CANADA

      As a boomer myself I really enjoyed this one. Thanks.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 6 years ago from malang-indonesia

      Nice hub. I really enjoy reading this hub. Thanks for writing and share with us. Rated up!

      Prasetio

    • Paradise7 profile image
      Author

      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Ha-ha-ha, scarytaff!

    • scarytaff profile image

      Derek James 6 years ago from South Wales

      Great hub No.7. Sex? I think I can remember that.

    • Paradise7 profile image
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      Paradise7 6 years ago from Upstate New York

      Thank you, Vietnam Vet--I'm so glad for both of you that your wife is among the 47% of women BB's who DON'T feel that sex is unimportant!!! It was a legit survey (A nationwide survey conducted on Nov. 22, 2010, according to the Daily News).That whole era changed things, for everyone. I think we all got confused about our gender role models for a while. Maybe we still are!! Or maybe we are still in the process of re-defining them, to make women less marginal members of society.

    • vietnamvet68 profile image

      vietnamvet68 6 years ago from New York State

      great hub, I enjoyed reading and brought back memories of those days. But I can't believe that 53% of women say that sex is no longer important. It's not the way my wife feels about it.

      God Bless