John J. Maclonis in his book “Society” refers to the sexual revolution as a post-Second World War period whereby the society started to become more open towards the issue of sexuality. The revolution was characterized by the emergence of new trends that included new technology for birth control and minimal restrictions on females and their sexuality (Macionis 23). The repercussions of the sexual revolution are still being felt today even with the emergence of the pop culture. The sexual revolution hit its climax in the late 1960’s and some of the consequences of this sexual revolution are summarized below.
/> - Sexuality essentially became a political feature. It started to act as an axis or pillar around which several social movements were organized.
- There was a pronounced shift in the relations between males and females especially those that were stirred by the budding women’s movements. This was consequently reflected by an increased women’s presence in the public sphere. It was also mirrored in the rise of personal autonomy where women became more empowered in terms of making reproductive choices and expressing themselves sexually (Jeffreys 34).
- Mobilization of gay movements started to take place.
- There was a destabilization of the rigid boundary that existed between private family life and the separately orientated public sphere
- There were reforms in the medical and legal regulation of sexuality
- There was a general increase in the commodification and commercialization of sexuality through several vices such the mass media and pornography. Censorship laws were also significantly relaxed.
There were several factors that influenced the sexual revolution and these included the ‘pill”, teen pregnancy, prostitution, pornography, abortion and sexual violence. Each of these factors or trends was seen to play significant roles in the sexual revolution.
The pill is actually considered to be the catalyst of the sexual revolution. The pill was a contraceptive drug that could be ingested orally by women to prevent them from becoming pregnant even after engaging in unprotected sex. Prior to the development of the pill, women could only rely on outdated contraceptive means that were in most instances not effective. The pill gave women power over their sexuality. Their sexuality was placed into their hands and they could do whatever they wished with their bodies. The sexuality of women was thus liberated and this acted as one of the catalysts of the sexual revolution.
Prostitution is also another aspect that helped to shape the sexual revolution. The period between 1920 and 1960 witnessed a massive increase in the number of prostitutes prowling the American cities’ streets. Although prostitution was outlawed in many states, this did not hinder an increase in the number of women who chose to sell of their bodies for a variety of reasons, the most common being financial reasons. As time progressed, prostitution became a common feature and some even openly viewed prostitution as an acceptable way of making a living.
Abortion had always been a taboo in the American society for a long time. Many viewed it as an extremely sinful act and the law out rightly outlawed it. There were many instances of women who attempted to commit undercover abortions which often resulted in death or permanent reproductive system damage. However, the sexual revolution era witnessed the emergence of new medical technology that could take care of abortions without much causing much or any harm to the mother. This resulted in a significant number of Americans changing their views on abortion. In fact, some women started to feel sexually liberated as they knew that there were harmless ways of terminating their unwanted pregnancies if they were ever caught up in such situations.
In addition, sexual behaviour among teenagers rose to ernomous levels during this era. Teenagers who felt sexually liberated started to experiment and this consequently resulted in increased cases of teenage pregnancies. More often than not, the education progress of these teens was terminated. Some attempted abortions which left them traumatized for life (Risman and Pepper, 50).
The emergence of pornography is another feature that is credited with the emergence of the sexual revolution. Films showing men and women performing sexual acts on each other started to be developed and released into the mainstream public film domain. This adult film industry started to become embedded into the public and it obviously found a lot of fans who embraced it with open arms (Williams 28).
Sexual violence, particularly against women had always been a common feature in many societies across the world and not just the American society. The sexual revolution era witnessed an increase in the number of women movements advocating for the stricter laws on offensive acts against women, such as sexual violence (Williams 42). As result, there was a general decrease in the instances of sexual violence and it became easier for women to say no to men’s sexual advances without the fear of repercussions.
As seen above, the Sexual Revolution was really phenomenal era in the American society. Its effects and implications have continuously tricked into adjacent eras and even today, the implications of this revolution are very conspicuous. However, there is one aspect that still stands out in the society today and this relates to teenage pregnancy. Teenage pregnancy has risen to ernomous levels in the American nation today. It is not uncommon to witness 16 year olds dropping out of schools because of pregnancy. The sad thing about this situation is that the American public in general seems to have embraced it. In fact, a reality television show titled “16 and Pregnant” has been airing in national television channels for some years now. Such things are surely out of the typical society’s moral norms because it is as if they are glorifying sexual acts among teenagers by passing the message that. “Hey, if I get pregnant at sixteen, I might get a chance to appear on TV”. This is surely something that needs to be regulated and the federal, state and local governments should take adequate measures immediately so as to protect the future generation. One of the ways in which the government can curb this menace is through the availing of sex education in schools, preferably high schools, middle schools and junior high schools. If the children are taught about sex from an early age, they can acquire essential skills about protecting themselves from the menace of teen pregnancy life (Risman and Pepper, 88).
. They could for instance be taught on abstaining or in instances where this is not possible; they could be taught on the effective use of contraceptives. Sex education in schools will not only help to decrease the instances of teenage pregnancies but will also help in alleviating the spread of sexually transmitted disease like HIV.
Jeffreys, Sheila. Anticlimax: A Feminist Perspective on the Sexual Revolution. North Melbourne, Vic: Spinifex Press, 2011. Internet resource.
Macionis, John J. Society: The Basics. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Prentice Hall, 2004. Print.
Risman, Barbara, and Pepper Schwartz. "After the Sexual Revolution: Gender Politics in Teen Dating." Contexts 12.33 (2002): 45-57. Print.
Williams, Mary E. The Sexual Revolution. San Diego, Calif: Greenhaven Press, 2002. Print.