SEX….. AND THE 60’S

 

Have I sparked your attention?

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The word “sex” has that sort of power…grabbing us by the lapels with wide-eyed interest…while simultaneously making us squeamish and uncomfortable.

I can recall the ONLY time my Mom, an undeniably sexy diva when in her 20’s, uttered ‘that word’ to me.  We were deep in conversation, two adult women sharing lunch, when she responded to a question I asked with……”I never was that interested in sex.”

My uncensored reply….. “Really?!!  I love it!”

That was the response of a naive young woman who was awakening to a new revolution called feminism.  Women were seeking political, economic, social, and equal rights to that of their male counterparts.  Women were also breaking ground with a sexual revolution…and with the advent of birth control….claiming their bodies and embracing sexual exploration and freedom.

But truth be told, I haven’t always “loved” sex.

My sex education as a teen of the 60’s was limited.  It was not being taught in schools.  Most parents, including mine, avoided the topic.  Whatever generally faulty information was available was shared in hushed whispers between female teens.  There was no access to internet data.  Introduction to my first bra, was left in a bag on my bed…no discussion.  I remember fumbling for several minutes trying to figure out how the hell to put it on!

We were mostly clueless and clumsily experimented with unreliable birth control methods.  The pill had only just become available and was not easily accessible to young women., most especially adolescents.   We carried the anxiety and burden of avoiding unplanned pregnancy, of wanting to express ourselves sexually coupled with the risk of being labeled for that expression….slut, loose, frigid, whore….and worse.  Interestingly, the male equivalent vocabulary included words like prowess, stud, manly, virile.  (We still see evidence of this discrepancy today in stories related to Stormy Daniels).

At seventeen, I experienced an awakening to womanhood.  Dating a good-looking,  popular guy in the senior class gave me credibility and status.  A desire to please, lack of sex education, starry-eyed love, and wanting to avoid the label of ‘prude’ when many of my counterparts were already sexually active….eventually led to the discovery that I was pregnant.  It was 1967.  Women were just beginning to embrace freedoms never before realized, yet I could be asked to leave high school or be fired from a job because I was pregnant. I could not legally refuse to have sex with my husband, and I could be denied a credit card.  It was a personal setback in my quest for sexual freedom, equality, and claiming my body, as I hid my bulging abdomen in order to graduate and work.

In her new book, “Sex Matters: How Modern Feminism Lost Touch with Science, Love and Common Sense”,  Mona Charen cites her belief that feminism has ‘failed us in our personal relationships’ and ‘dismantled traditions of modesty, courtship, and fidelity that had characterized relations between the sexes for centuries”.  As she raises thought- provoking questions and points to be considered, she also challenges some deeply held beliefs of women like myself who over decades flourished professionally, personally….and yes, sexually….due to the powerful force of the feminist movement.

Fast forward.  I am a woman in my late 60’s.  One would think my days of sexual interest, sexual freedom and sexual prowess would be over.

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Just the contrary.

Women of my generation are like no other.  We grew up in the era of sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll.  We burned our bras, formed consciousness raising groups, and fought for reproductive rights, maternity leave, and equal pay.  We spoke out against domestic violence and sexual harassment.

As women of the ’60s…and now in our 60’s….we have a range of choices….and experiences….. regarding sex.

I have friends who have lost interest in sex and have gained interest in many other areas of their lives.  I have friends with lovers who are twenty years younger.  I have friends relishing their sexuality without fear of pregnancy…. or a monthly annoyance.  I have friends joyously having “sex” with themselves.  And friends having sex with other women.

And….I have friends….(ahem)…..having the best sex of their lives…….

Boom!  Drop the mic!

 

 

 

3 thoughts on “SEX….. AND THE 60’S

  1. Another great piece, Margaret! You and I have had many discussions about the privileges and freedoms the feminist movement has given us – freedoms that were denied to our mothers. And we have both cried over the very few options they had to express themselves as full and whole human beings. It saddens me still.
    I heard Mona Charen speak on the themes in her book that you reference, and I thought she made some thought-provoking points about the “sexual revolution” – and how it may have Had unintended consequences in eroding some of our values and paving the way for some of the crassness we see and hear today. Yet- I don’t hold feminism responsible for that. Feminism helped me experience joy in my body, see it as beautiful, and express myself with it!
    All in all- even in our 60’s- we continue to reap the benefits- and the joys- bestowed upon us by the Gloria Steinems, the Betty Friedans, the Alice Walkers and the countless others, who led us to this place.
    Thank you, sister, for this beautifully written reminder. And hooray for sex and the single (or married) 60 year old feminist!!!

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  2. Great piece! As a women approaching 70 I like to think that I will be sexually active until the end. I love how you put this all into perspective. I remember being interviewed on the radio with my mother when I was in my early 30’s and I was asked when my mother told me about sex and sexual matters. My response, “Not yet!”

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  3. My dearest Margaret, wherever you are, I always want to gather! Your writing has always taken my breath away. I love that you’re now sharing your thoughts, your ability to express them, and your passion with anyone who would care to read your blog. I have always encouraged you to write. You do it so well! So, when I see your words in print, I remember all the hours and conversations where I wanted to write all your words down so that others can benefit from the way that you weave them. You are not only an incredible writer, but a deep scholar of paying attention to the human condition . I have always learned from you and look forward to learning much more over the course of our lives together. Keep these coming; they’re delightful! They are intelligent! Informative! Funny! Real! And informative. ❤️Loving you and thanking the universe for your beautiful talent.

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