The sexual revolution

When

12.00pm–1.30pm

12 May 2009

Topics

Culture

The 'sexual revolution' was a real shift in personal lifestyles and public discourse on sexuality that originated in the US, primarily on the west coast, in the mid to late 1960s.  It was a manifestation in discrete segments of the population, but captured broad public attention.  

Historians, moralists, and chroniclers of popular culture have speculated ever since on its overall effects on US society, including the extent of its contribution to the increase in sexually transmitted diseases in the ensuing decades.  

This seminar examined the historical, societal and cultural drivers that brought about this phenomenon.  It argued that this sexual revolution (there have been others in various cultures and time periods) arose from the conjunction of a number of factors, including; greater acceptability of open sexuality and freer public discourse; absence of deadly sexually transmitted diseases; the ascension of a relatively uninhibited (but not non-conformist) youth culture; concurrent revolutionary movements providing setting and vicarious legitimacy, the Pill; and greater public access to information on sex and sexuality.

Hudson Birden is Senior Lecturer in Public Health and Clinical Leadership with the North Coast Medical Education Collaboration.

Birden holds an MPH from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and is currently completing a PhD through the Faculty of Medicine, Discipline of General Practice, University of Sydney.

Prior to moving to Australia, he was Director of Health for the City of New Britain Connecticut USA, where he ran a federally funded regional sexual health centre and HIV/AIDS counselling and testing service.  He continues to hold an academic post at the University of Hartford, where he lectures on epidemiology, the history of health and disease, and the history, literature, and music of the Caribbean.