Published: 20:38 EDT, 8 October 2019 | Updated: 03:58 EDT, 9 October 2019
The ‘permissive society’ of the 1960s made men think women were as available as food at an all-you-can-eat buffet, a historian has claimed.
But Virginia Nicholson said women from that time still believed sex was intertwined with love and would be ‘shocked’ at today’s casual ‘hook-up’ culture using apps such as Tinder.
Speaking to columnist Libby Purves at the Cheltenham Literature Festival, Miss Nicholson said: ‘There was an assumption that you were cool, hip, on the Pill and if you wouldn’t sleep with a man you were frigid, frightened and generally a bit of a loser.
Virginia Nicholson said women in the 1960s still believed sex was intertwined with love and would be ‘shocked’ at today’s casual ‘hook-up’ culture using apps such as Tinder. Pictured, a group of men looking at a woman wearing a miniskirt on Carnaby Street, London in the 1960s
‘I spoke to a lot of women who said, it just didn’t seem very polite [to say no]. They’d been brought up by a 1950s mother who said if a man takes you out, you have to say thank you nicely.
‘There was a sense of total entitlement by men that hadn’t changed for hundreds of years.’
Miss Nicholson, whose book, How Was It For You, examines the sexual revolution of the 1960s, added: ‘If you take women down off their pedestal and make them available to men in the way which was happening in the mid-1960s, there are dangers to that, in this availability, not being able to say no, not feeling as if they had the right to say no.
‘For men, it was like “Oh my gosh, we’re so lucky. We seem to be growing up at a time when it was like an eat-as-much-as-you-like buffet, that you could have as much as you liked”.’
Miss Purves told how women pressured into sex also faced the risk of infections. She said: ‘There was a presumption you were on the pill, nothing mattered. No-one thought about STIs.’
Miss Nicholson replied: ‘You’d take a few antibiotics and you were back on the game.’
‘It’s about tiny, wide-eyed, leggy bambini who couldn’t fight back. It’s about disempowerment. The big eyes, the Biba pouts, looking like a Lolita, like a child,’ Virginia Nicholson said. Pictured, model Jean Shrimpton poses at a dolls hospital in London in 1964
Researching her book, she said she found a lot of the 1960s’ culture and even fashion such as miniskirts was ‘all about availability’.
‘It’s about tiny, wide-eyed, leggy bambini who couldn’t fight back. It’s about disempowerment. The big eyes, the Biba pouts, looking like a Lolita, like a child,’ she said.
‘Every girl who could get away with it is trying to look not only under the voting age but under the age of consent.’
But, comparing the situation with the sexual culture of today, Miss Purves – who came of age in the 1960s – said: ‘Most of the (1960s) women (still) thought it was love.
‘I think the hook-up culture that women are buying into now, I think that would have shocked some people in the 1960s, actually.’