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27 Jun 2017 (Last updated 23 Jan 2024)

Why the 70s changed your sex life?

Sexual Journey 2 min read
feminism illustration by pink bits

The 70s are probably the culturally wildest decade of the 20th century. On so many levels, it has been a turning point between the aftermath of World War 2 and the globalized world that has emerged in the 80s.

For women, we can’t minimize what we owe to that special moment in history. The 1st feminist movements had won us the right to vote. But materially, morally and socially, women were subject to their husband. In the U.S in 1960, one 19-year-old woman out of two who were unmarried had not yet had sex. By the end of the 80s, over 66% of women had lost their virginity by the age of 18. So, what changed during this agitated decade?

Pushing back the boundaries of being a woman.

The decade kicked-off with some major symbolic milestones. In 1970, the first Women’s Liberation Conference took place in England. Catherine Hall, who was involved with a women's group in Birmingham and had come to feminist consciousness after having her first child, ­describes it as a

"utopian moment . . . It's hard to convey now the excitement of discovering what it meant to be a woman, and to have a language to talk about that, and not conceiving of it as an individual issue, but a collective and social issue. That was what was most important. The recognition that we shared a feeling and experiences that had a name."

The same year, “the Female Eunuch” by Germaine Greer was published. This revolutionary book questioned the fate that seems to be that of every woman at the time: a housewife life in a suburban house, pleasing and supporting husbands and children. And the impact this suffocating mold had on women’s psyche: the loss of their sexuality. The book, in sometimes very shocking ways, urged women to take charge of their lives, their body, their sex lives. And putting out there the crazy idea that women’s sexual pleasure…. matters!

Making sex about pleasure!

In 1972, an amazing book ranked at the top of the New York Times best-sellers list for 3 months: The Joy of Sex, by Alex Comfort. The idea was to use the same approach as the one of cooking books like The Joy of Cooking, and to create an illustrated manual on sexual practices. Of course, it encountered controversy from some religious groups, but it was still a huge success, showing the public interest!

This was innovative in so many ways: it was featuring sexual practices like oral sex, with no reproductive purposes, featuring sex as an enjoyable and everyday life activity (like cooking!) and all this in the public space!

A legacy we can cherish!

By making the topics of sex and sexual pleasure more and more public, the 70s have marked a shift of perception towards sex. For women, the change has been towards autonomy when it comes to their sex lives concerning reproductive choices (hello pill!) and sexual expression.

Today, we should feel grateful to the women and men who dedicated their lives to change ours. And to be proud heiresses of the wild 70s, we should keep their legacy alive by continuing the fight, with grace and determination. To empower ourselves to be our own person. To be the queens of our bodies. To be fearless to go for what we want and know without a doubt we deserve it!


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