The Sexual Revolution

The Sexual Revolution (the 1960s-1980s), also known as the time of sexual liberation, marked a time that involved the rejection of typical gender roles. It was a social movement that challenged what individuals had previously seen as sexual norms. Acceptance for intercourse outside of monogamous, heterosexual, marriages increased which gave individuals more freedom as well as a feeling of being less deviant. The first issue of playgirl came out, and new contraceptives hit the market. The availability of the pill in particular gave women power and control which they had never before had in this way (Crooks, 2011). In the 1960s, Intrauterine devices (IUDs) first began being manufactured and marketed in the United states, which gave women even more options in terms of methods for birth control (Kathleen, 2011).


In 1965, and the years to come, there were numerous advances that occurred that played a part in showing that sex without procreation could be okay. 1965 was the year that the use of contraceptives became legal for married couples and in 1972, contraceptives were legalized for unmarried couples as well. 1973 was a vital year that involved an increasing availability and popularity of self help books as well as the legalization of abortion. Prior to abortion being legalized, individuals found guilty in certain states could be charged with murder, manslaughter, or other felonies. This was also the year that homosexuality was removed from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM (Crooks, 2011).

The video below, which pertains to the times before abortion was legalized, demonstrates how much views changed during the sexual revolution and what women’s views were prior to it.


Video retrieved from: 86I


In the 1980s and 1990s, Hormonal birth control methods expanded to include injections and implants. Low-dose pills were also introduced. In 1992, emergency contraception became more widely available as well.

A Look into the Present Day

Today, it is not nearly as taboo to discuss one’s sexuality, and sexual education has become more and more important. Still, more advances have been made in terms of birth control. Improvements have been made for various methods of birth control, and as a result safety and effectiveness have increased. Some advances include the he hormonal patch, new types of injections, vaginal rings, and female sterilization. There is still more to learn however; more research will be needed to invent woman –controlled methods that are more effective in protecting against potential sexual diseases.

Since the 1960s, many LGBT people in the West, particularly those in major metropolitan areas, have developed a so-called “gay culture”. To many, gay culture is exemplified by the gay pride movement, with annual parades and displays of rainbow flags. Yet not all LGBT people choose to participate in “queer culture”, and many gay men and women specifically decline to do so.

Following President Obama’s election in 2008, his administration’s policies expanded funding that included comprehensive contraceptive and sex education as opposed to abstinence-only programs. As a result of reliable birth control methods, couples can engage in sexual intimacy without risking an unwanted pregnancy, and children are more likely to be born to parents that are emotionally and financially prepared for them. Rates of abortions have also consequently decreased, and finally, women have more equal power with men in modern society as a result of being able to control their own bodies.

Though there are still stigmas surrounding women who express their sexuality, and negative views towards certain sexual practices, there is also more acceptance than ever for different sexual practices and individuals who perhaps act in ways that have previously been seen as “deviant”.



Bullfrog Films. Before Abortion was Legal. Retrieved from 86I

Crooks, R., & Baur, K. (2011). Our sexuality (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

London, Kathleen. The History of Birth Control. Retrieved from

Zeldes, Kiki. (2005). Birth Control: A Brief History of Birth Control. Retrieved from




2 Responses to “The Sexual Revolution”

  1. […] A rational and factually coherent explanation for the collapse of marriage is the spread of liberal views towards sex outside of marriage, divorce, and unwed child-bearing. Since Gallup began polling Americans on these issues in 2001, moral acceptance of sex between unmarried men and women rose from 53% to 72%, divorce from 59% to 77%, and having a baby out of wedlock from 45% to 66%. These changes took place in only the last 19 years, and much larger ones surely occurred during the sexual revolution that began in the 1940s and burgeoned in the 1960s to 1980s. […]

  2. […] life were considered special, and as such, not to be sullied by broadcasting them to the world. The Sexual Revolution of the 1960s-1980s reframed privacy as pathologic repression. During those decades, sexual […]