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Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Truth about the Sexual Revolution & the Pill

SEX - 50 years ago tomorrow (it was first approved on May 9th 1960) a miraculous pill appeared on the market that prevented pregnancy 100% of the time if used properly. Sometimes mistakes were made or women forgot to take their pill for the day, but otherwise it was an ingenious little tool for freeing the libidos of women both young and slightly older.

Some people however tend to blame/credit the Pill with the Sexual Revolution of the 1960s. Oh how wrong they are.

The truth of the Pill is statistically it did nothing to the abortion rate. Women kept getting pregnant when not on the pill, often due to inexperience and some men not knowing how to do the "pull out at the last minute routine". Thats the routine men were doing prior to the Pill and it apparently was working at least part of the time.

The little compact case and the "magic pills" it contained was somewhat synonmous with the 1960s: Peace, love and rampant sex in the mud at Woodstock.

But what would have happened if there had been no pill?

Peace, love and rampant sex in the mud at Woodstock, that's what. People still would have been having sex, the difference would have been a lot more couples using the pull out technique instead and couples would have been getting less enjoyment out of sex.

So thats the truth right there. The Pill resulted in couples being able to enjoy sex more. It did very little it stemming unwanted pregnancies because all too often people made mistakes with the oral contraceptive and got pregnant anyway.

And the other truth of the matter is that it wasn't all hippie chicks who rushed out to take the Pill. It was mostly married women in their late 20s, 30s and even early 40s. They already had several kids and didn't want any more. Thus this sexual revolution was more in the married bedrooms than the single bedrooms.

“Within the first five years of its release something like a quarter of all married women of reproductive age had used the Pill, so clearly there was a big shift and a concomitant decrease in the proportion of women using diaphragms and condoms,” says Elizabeth Watkins, author of "On the Pill: A Social History of Oral Contraceptives, 1950-1970" and a professor of history at the University of California, San Francisco.

Before the Pill came on the market there was already a sexual revolution going on. Between 1940 and 1960 the number of single mothers had tripled. Women were having sex, getting pregnant, and probably have a good time during the process.

It was after all the 1950s Baby Boom period. Everyone was having sex, women were getting pregnant whether they were married or not and it wasn't until 1960 when the Pill became available that they realized they could have even more sex and didn't have to use the pull out method any more. Married women and men no doubt celebrated with a rousing bout of hide the weasel in the bushes.

Thus the Sexual Revolution was already in full swing when the Pill arrived. It just gave the revolution an extra push.

Its also known that the Pill was rather expensive when it first arrived. A bit like Viagra is today (I'll get back to the Viagra topic later) and thus married/working women were the only ones who could easily afford it.

There are other things that pushed the Sexual Revolution too.

In 1947 Professor Alfred Kinsey founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University. Kinsey's research about human sexuality during the 1940s and 1950s was groundbreaking and the first of its kind. His books "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" in 1948, followed in 1953 by "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" reached the top of bestseller lists and turned Kinsey into an instant celebrity.

In 1950 Ernst Grafenberg, a German gynecologist, discovered the G-Spot.

In December 1953 Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Magazine featured Marilyn Monroe as its first cover girl and nude centerfold in the premiere issue.

In 1959 The Immoral Mr. Teas was directed, produced and released by Russ Meyer. Meyer was a pioneer in the porn industry, creating softcore porn (he even created the term) in films like Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! (1965) and Vixen! (1968) and pushing the limits of censorship in America. He continued making films well into the 1970s.

And there are hardly the only things.

What the Pill did really was allow women to more fully enjoy sex, right up to moment of orgasm and even afterwards for round 2 or 3.

“Polls taken at the time indicated that single women who were already sexually active were enthusiastic about the Pill because it allowed them to enjoy sex more fully,” says Elizabeth Tyler May, professor of American studies and history at the University of Minnesota, is the author of the just released 'America + The Pill: A History of Promise, Peril, and Liberation'.

It wasn't until 1967 that Time magazine dubbed the Pill the “miraculous tablet”.

“If the Pill can defuse the population explosion,” the magazine theorized, “it will go far toward eliminating hunger, want and ignorance.”

But that never really happened. The Catholic Church pushed the agenda that the Pill was a sin to use, thus while population growth rates have declined unwanted pregnancies still exist because the percentage of women on the Pill never reached a "breakthrough level" where it became the driving force behind population control. Instead women kept getting pregnant by accident, men kept using the pull-out method and it wasn't really until STDs like AIDS appeared that people started taking condoms more seriously.

The Pill was more of a contraceptive stepping stone in legitimizing the use of other contraceptives like condoms, diaphragms, injections, patches, rings, the Morning After Pill, Lybrel, a continuous low-dose period-free pill with no placebos, etc. It created a Contraceptive Revolution... but it was hardly the cause of the Sexual Revolution which was already in full swing anyway.

And it also kickstarted the sex-pill revolution... Pills like Viagra, Cialis and what will eventually become the Viagra 4 Women pill (or whatever name they choose) are a growing (sometimes disturbing) trend. Just this past week Britain released a new pill called Prilogy which cuts down on Premature Ejaculation and allows PE sufferers to last 3 times longer.

Just wait they'll invent pills that cause instant orgasms, feelings of love, induce abortion without the need for surgery, allow men to orgasm without releasing semen, make women more sensitive so they can orgasm easier, pills to make us younger, more energetic... Disturbed by the possibilities yet?

And frankly it will all become a bit disturbing because it won't be just the younger generation popping pills, it will be the older generation getting it on. There's nothing more disturbing than our parents and grandparents having booty calls.


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