The Sexual Revolution and the History of Human Sexuality

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The Basics of Human Sexuality

To really learn about what the sexual revolution was all about, you first have to understand the basics of human sexuality. The expression of sex regarding social norms has always fluctuated according to social and cultural occurrences. When you break down the basic definition of human sexuality, apart from what sociologists and anthropologists have discovered through the years, you are simply using sexuality as a means to express love psychologically, while biologically using sexuality as a means to procreate. The practice of sexual expression varies across time and place, but when fundamentally broken down, basic principles are integral in our evolution as humans.

To examine where we are today, we first must look back at our current history to the catalyst known as the sexual revolution. It was a time of sexual liberation that challenged the traditional behavior relating to sexuality and women in particular. This movement fought against what was traditionally accepted when it came to human sexuality.

Sexuality in the 1800s

Dating back to the 1800s, sexuality was rooted in religion, and the attitudes of what sex should be were widely accepted without question. Looking back, modern medicine helped play a part in diseases such as syphilis, which most likely sparked a greater freedom among people when it came to sexuality.

Every stride forward made in the movement seemed to be born out of sexual repression. Scientists like Sigmund Freud, Wilhelm Reich, and Alfred Kinsey, help us to understand the influence of sexuality in our daily lives as well as social movements of the time that prompted this life changing counterculture movement.

Sexuality in the 1900s

The traditional sexual norms of the 1940s and 1950s in America led to the inevitable uprising and common belief that sex should be celebrated.

In the 1950s, Hugh Hefner founded playboy, which was a major shift in culture as it featured cartoons, interviews, and half naked women in a way that had never been done before. This led to playmates, playboy clubs and playboy bunnies, and eventually opened up the door for the media to play a role in the revolution.

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With magazines books, TV, music, and theater, the baby boom generation triggered a massive shift in generational beliefs that is still being expanded upon today. The 1960s brought America, along with the rest of the world, the biggest sexual awakening anyone had ever seen. Social issues that were usually brushed aside were now been pushed to the forefront. There was a sense of activism when it came to civil rights, women’s rights, and basic human sexuality. It was this era when the feminists found a voice and gay rights campaigners, along with other political movements, fought for their unique freedoms.

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Things like the birth control pill were now accessible and events such as Woodstock tackled the issue of equality in general. During the 1960s, the hippie counterculture brought about radical widespread change. Universities and campuses across the country saw an increase in people speaking their minds and fighting for their rights. Those involved in the sexual liberation movement saw this as a time to fight for the freedom they were given, and the ability to use their bodies as they saw fit without having to worry about things like unwanted pregnancy. The pill even tackled constitutional issues that fell under the First Amendment when it came to deciding that it was not the business of the government to dictate the usage of contraception. The ‘60s also saw The Stonewall riots in 1969 which sparked another liberation movement leading to the modern fight for LGBTQ rights in the United States.

The ‘70s saw a different kind of shift when newfound sexual freedoms met with capitalism, and things like pornographic films became accepted (somewhat) from society. The 1980s introduced the world to the dangers of sex through AIDS and drastically shifted the sexual movement to focusing on the rights of the LGBTQ community.

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Sexuality in Today’s Day and Age

Today, we understand the idea of sexual freedom in a way that we could never have grasped had it not been for the fight it took to get here.

We continue to learn about the consequences of our own actions when it comes to our own sexuality while still exploring the freedoms which we all so rightly deserve.

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