By Kate F.
Sexual liberation has had a very complex background and history. Both men and women are involved in the process of pushing the idea of relationships forward. The hazardous old stereotypes still live, like men seeking more sex in a relationship while women look for emotional commitment as they raise children and put ‘pressure’ on their men to stay committed for as long as that takes. And then along came the second half of the 20th century, where relationships get placed in a bigger picture, and previously taboo topics are swept away with the coming of activists such as the Gay Liberation movement. Relationships are redefined as a “commitment between two people”, regardless of their gender.
Birth control gained momentum as early as 1870 in the US and Europe. Unwanted pregnancies were much more rare. In England, single parent families dropped in quantity. Sexual activity was reserved for ‘after marriage’, and the importance of family life was promoted.
This trend has drastically changed in the early 1960s and the advance of the sexual revolution. Contraception had a series of advancements, and the birth control pill became everything. Single men and women became openly sexually active outside of their traditional relationships – marriages. Abortion was legalized in many countries of the western world.
It didn’t end there. In 1969, the Stonewall Riots “gave birth” to the Gay Rights Movement. Both men and women started ‘coming out’ in the Unites States, inspiring their brothers and sisters across the pond to do so as well. The average consumer was able to purchase products like aphrodisiacs, sex toys, and information on their existence and purpose were available to all. Fetishist and BDSM sexual preferences traditionally characterized as taboos, overnight became recognized and brought into the open. Marriage no longer carried the same relevance or strength as it once did, when divorces became easier to obtain. The feminist movement peaked in a single decade of glory that has not been surpassed even today. As a matter of fact, it was the feminist activists who enabled the LGBT population to express themselves and openly embrace their sexuality.
One of the most important aspects of the sexual revolution was a free flow of information. A myriad of non-fiction sex manuals and publications appeared in bookshops and libraries. However, not all the development was to a good end. Conservative members of society were preparing a ‘counter-revolution’. As usual, they defined all the above mentioned practices as abnormal and dangerous, with more or less success. But thanks to presence and active involvement of LGBT population and progressive youth, the fight for sexual freedom is far from a lost cause.
The element of “morality” is taken out of the equation when these events are discussed today – there is no moral grounds for torture inflicted upon another human being. The world we live in struggles for its freedom, and is creating the paths through which the freedom comes. The Internet has once again brought transparency to a touchy topic – free love and free access. Where a hundred years ago an indiscretion would land you in an asylum, today there is no fear in standing up for your physical and mental health, with sex ed classes (which should, honestly, be given more attention), going so far as shopping for condoms as commodities.
The evolution of relationships and sexual freedoms has shaken the very foundations of society like a wave of relief across a world governed by interpretations of holy manuscripts backed by personal agenda. Naturally, there is personal agenda on both sides, tampering the purpose of the fight, but a globally-felt inclination towards research, analysis and socio-economic progress keeps the field as fair as it can be.