When did we lose the sexual revolutionPosted: July 24, 2011
It has been almost 50 years now since the sexual revolution. The advent of the contraceptive pill was supposed to provide women with sexual equality. Free love meant free for everyone – that both men and women could express their sexuality without fear of judgement or consequences. The contraceptive pill and the new society were supposed to free women from the confines of being the gatekeepers to sex – women could acknowledge their own sexuality as they were no longer the ones fearful of pregnancy.
And yet, nearly two whole generations later, I still don’t think women are winning the sexual revolution. I’d like to go as far as to say that we’ve lost it. From Dorries suggesting that girls get special ‘just say no’ classes in school, to the flood of super injunctions to protect upstanding family men from gold-digging young women, we really don’t seem to have won.
In pop culture, women aren’t allowed to express their sexuality in the same way that men are. The storylines of so many movies still revolve around the idea that a girl is attracted to a man by his power or wealth or status, and is swept up until almost date-raped before realising the asexual boy-next-door is the one for her. Even Bridesmaids – the movie written by women who wanted strong female characters pretty much follows this plot (alongside some female bonding obviously). These stories haven’t changed over the decades – girls are taught to be scared of sex, that it’s something that men want and women should resist. Women characters that do want sex are generally seen as figures of fun or ‘ball-breakers’ (see this month’s Horrible Bosses) – never someone that other women would want to bes.
In real life, the whole debate around slutwalk shows how often that word is STILL used against women. And all this time after the revolution, there is STILL no equivalent word for men. If anything, the world is becoming a more judgemental place for women. The increasingly pink girlhood is yet another way to keep girls in their place – that there is something inherently different in the female brain that opts for sugar and spice and all things nice. Except every single study of children before they’ve been socialised has disproven this biological imperative. There’s no biological reason why we’ve lost the sexual revolution. And yet it seems to be growing further and further out of reach.
In the ’80s, no-one was supposed to have sex because of AIDS. In the ’90s, women were having sex and shouting about it all Zig-a-zig-ah. In both these decades hair was big, clothes made a statement and women were strong. And since then… Women have become appendages, walking shampoo ads, pink and plastic. We are getting further and further away from a revolution that should have been won by our mothers and grandmothers.
I’m not suggesting that we all start shagging as a political statement. But really, how did this revolution die?