Saturday, 13 July 2013

Loosening up

The sixties are always seen as the decade of the "sexual revolution", when all of a sudden people lost their sexual inhibitions and were jumping into bed with everyone left, right and centre.

That may have been true for some, but for me it was quite the opposite. Although I was a teenage boy and supposedly awash with testosterone and erotic yearnings, I was actually totally chaste until the sixties were virtually over.

My various girlfriends seemed to be equally chaste and made no attempt to seduce me. Clearly libidos had not yet run amok in the strait-laced London suburbs.

Though I did know one guy who was assiduously bedding every woman he came across, I had no wish to do the same. He seemed to have little time for anything else but proving his manhood. But there was certainly no shortage of eager women happy to satisfy his urges.

I suppose I never quite saw the point of the so-called sexual revolution. Of course it was a step forward that people were losing their sexual inhibitions and prudishness, but it didn't follow that you had to prove your newly liberated attitude day after day with as many partners as you could handle. Shedding inhibitions was somehow equated with promiscuity and lack of commitment.

I must say it's refreshing to hear younger people discussing sexuality with a degree of candour and directness that would have been unthinkable when I was growing up. That was the age of tortuous double entendres, coy references to "down there" or "consummation", and the elaborately evasive and euphemistic "Carry On" films. Any clearcut mention of sex was enough to traumatise the assembled company and have you frozen out of the conversation.

Certainly I wish I'd been able to talk about sex with the same frankness and in the same detail when I was an innocent and ignorant teenager. It might have saved a lot of confusion and embarrassment in later life when my sexual naivety was all too obvious. And still catches me out even now.

14 comments:

Ursula said...

You are clearly older than me. The Sixties by-passed me in as much I was a child.

Later on, as a woman, all that was paramount was to avoid pregnancy. And to me the "sexual revolution" was just that: The Pill.

Unfortunately, and I try to avoid making political points, but here is one, the pill made it a lot harder for girls to say "Thanks. But no thanks." The way I see it, and I am sure lots of women will agree, to keep your legs (and fingers) crossed wasn't cool. Not that 'cool' was invented then. You know me well enough by now, Nick: I am no one's fool. Oddly, and it amuses me, I had a reputation which came before me (and my legs). Comes from wearing skirts so short I never bent over. Hence letting others pick up whatever I had, inadvertently, dropped.

Do recognize the arsehole you describe. He ordered me to the front of the queue. Fuck you too, I thought. I rather take a side road.

As to youngsters able to talk freely about their sexuality look no further than this household. I am glad. Proof of trust.

U

Nick said...

Ursula: You're right, the pill made it harder to resist predatory males. Plus, as you say, female abstinence was absolutely not cool (yes, the word did exist!). And then as now men claimed that a miniskirt was a sexual invitation.

Glad you managed to ward off the Lothario. Glad also that your youngsters share the prevailing frankness.

Jenny Woolf said...

I think contraception and effective VD treatments have really been what changed attitudes

Nick said...

Jenny: Yes, they both had an influence, I think. Also, the gradual realisation that many so-called "kinky" practices were perfectly normal. And of course more recently the arrival of Viagra.

Secret Agent Woman said...

I'm thankful my kids talk openly about sex with me. I well remember how difficult ti was for me to go to my stepmother about birth control. She was, fortunately, exceedingly nice about it.

I don't know that women have a harder time saying no these days. Maybe at first when birth control became readily available, but certainly I say no or yes as I want to. I'm neither promiscuous nor chaste. I think sex is part of a healthy, happy life and I don't let anyone else make the rules for me about when or who.

Wisewebwoman said...

Try Catholic Ireland in the sixties for some idea of sexual repression, Nick!

"Never let a man's hands go below the neck or above the knee" was the only admonition I received. And another one: "Never use a tampon or no man will want you."

Today's world is so much healthier.

And I do think AIDS had a lot to do with the end of the revolution. Though from what I hear around these parts it continues.

I'm waiting for my invite....:)

XO
WWW

Nick said...

Agent: I guess it's hard to say if women nowadays find it easier to say no. Yes, women are more autonomous and determined to make their own choices. On the other hand men can be very forceful and demanding and women may give in for an easy life. I think there's still an awful lot of sexual favours in return for job progression.

Nick said...

www: Indeed, Catholic Ireland in the sixties must have been sheer hell for a lot of women. Yes, you didn't exactly get detailed sexual advice! AIDS was certainly a dampener on sexual licence for a while, but now people seem a lot less concerned about it.

Rummuser said...

I was in my late teens in the sixties. You must also consider that I was in India. Despite our notoriety due to the Kamasutra, Islam and British Protestant ethic had driven sex indoors, but not quite out. There was not even locker room talk! A lot of clandestine activity went on and every body pretended that it did not. There are some stories that I could tell of the sixties that took place in the most orthodox of all Indian cities, then known as Madras, now as Chennai that can make E. L. James take to the hula hoop.

I personally had a grand time. Enough said.

And, you have a knack of coming up with posts of topical interest. Here is something that should tickle your funny bones. May be Ursula's too.
http://gawker.com/after-year-long-investigation-nyt-finds-upenn-women-li-768818167

Nick said...

Ramana: This is what happens isn't it? When something is banned, it doesn't usually stop, it simply goes underground. I'll bet there was plenty of "clandestine activity".

Thanks for the link. That's the second time I've read that women have as much casual sex as men, they just don't brag about it. And that's an interesting link between having casual sex and progressing your career, leaving the serious sexual dating and starting a family for later.

bonsaimum said...

I must be from another planet. I couldn't stand sleazy guys who wanted only one thing. I found NO worked for me, though on one occasion I did have to smack one guy who was rather slow on the danger signals.I knew one day I would meet someone that ticked all the boxes and that would be it. There is always gold amongst the dross!

Nick said...

Bonsaimum: Good for you, resisting all the "everyone's up for it" propaganda. I'd love to have seen you smacking the guy who wouldn't be told!

Liz said...

I missed it too. And was never offered drugs at university. hey ho.

Nick said...

Liz: No drugs? None at all? Struth! I was offered drugs a few times (LSD and dope) but never got into them seriously. Not quite drug chastity, but close!