Dating with the sexual revolution

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One cultural historian of the Seventies, Howard Sounes, writes: 'The after-effects of the great social and cultural changes of the Sixties, like waves created by rocks tossed in water, rippled out through society.' Today, those of us who express doubts about the long-term effects of such cultural changes are dismissed as prudes suffering from a permanent moral panic-attack.The denial of the liberals is ongoing: a blinkered refusal to admit the causes and effects of history.But this is what the distinguished historian Eric Hobsbawm writes about the shift in standards in his authoritative book, Age Of Extremes: 'The crisis of the family was linked with quite dramatic changes in public standards governing sexual behaviour, partnership and procreation...and the major change is datable and coincides with the Sixties and Seventies.' No wonder the Seventies saw an unprecedented explosion in writing about sex.It was not 'the free love culture' which caused her death, they insist, but her own self-indulgence. To me, this is one of the most fascinating issues of our time - raising so many questions about freewill, and cause and effect.I'm always amazed at the way the liberal Left (a broad church, with which I'd have once identified) is eager to make excuses for any dubious results of their progressive ideas.It was expected; nobody wanted to be called 'uncool' or 'uptight'.People have always had sex before (and illicit sex within) marriage.

But our sexual revolution was more sweeping and long-lasting.I was working on a glossy magazine at the time and we all looked askance at this brash newcomer with its philosophy that women should do anything to be sexy and get a man.(By the mid-Seventies, I was writing for it - although the Cosmo of those days was relatively innocent compared with now, when the magazine is often covered up in American stores because of the explicitness of its cover lines.) Books such as Cosmo's Steamy Sex Games: All Sorts Of Naughty Ways To Have Fun With Your Lover' (and countless others) carried the message that if you don't want to do this stuff, well, there's something with you.The air-brushed innocence of Sixties Playboy gave way to the gynaecological explicitness of Penthouse and a host of imitators.Sex, which in previous eras was private (even taboo), became public, with the result that women were expected - in their love lives - to demonstrate the expertise of prostitutes.

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