Who are the 60-year-old and beyond adults that would enjoy and benefit from reading Sex beyond 60: Myths and Facts?
The Silent Generation: Traditionalists
The silent generation, born during 1928-1945, lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Named the silent generation because of their silence during the McCarthy era, these adults, referred to as the traditionalists, grew up in difficult economic times. Distinguished by a strong work ethic, discipline, determination and will power, the silent generation pursued economic resources. Although there are no precise dates for the silent generation, researchers and demographers typically follow Pew research and use 1928-1945.1 There were 25.68 million traditionalists in 2017.2
The Baby Boomers
Many baby boomers grew up in a comfortable, middle class home, quite different from that of their parents, who lived through the Great Depression and World War II. Growing up, the boomers experienced a consumer-oriented culture with new inventions like, the washing machine, which created more leisure time. A flourishing post-war economy and government’s investments in infrastructure and public education, led to many boomers becoming educated and financially secure. Compared to traditionalists, baby boomers were more likely to protest social injustices and government policies, including segregation, the Vietnam war, gender equality for women and better treatment of the gay community.3As of 2016, there were approximately 74.1 million boomers in the United States. In 2019, boomers’ age range from the oldest at 73 to the youngest at 55. Between 2010 and 2030, about 10,000 baby boomers will turn 65 years old each day. About 20% or 72 million Americans will be 65 years old and older by 2030.4
Was the sexual revolution launched by the baby boomers?
The sexual revolution began with the silent generation during World War II, a period that encouraged liberal values on everything from child-rearing to religion in the 1940s and 1950s. Dr. Spock in his 1946 book, The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care counseled parents not to be concerned about their children masturbating. By 1950, Dr. Norman Vincent Peal, a politically conservative minister, advised his readers about the dangers of sexual repressions.5
A new analysis suggests that the rise in risky premarital sex, that marked the swinging 60s began during the conformist 1950s. This research, based on numbers of illegitimate births and teenage births, and rates of gonorrhea, concluded that the age of modern sexuality began in the mid to late 1950s. US Census Bureau statistics on premarital pregnancy between 1940 and 1960 indicates that the frequency of single motherhood among white woman increased from 3.5 to 9.2 newborns per 1000 unmarried white woman. Among all single mothers, births increased dramatically from 7.1 to 21.6 per 1000 single mothers.6,7
The widespread use of penicillin in the late 1940s and 1950s led to a rapid decline of deaths caused by syphilis, with the lowest level in 1957. An increase in premarital sex during this period coincided with the decline of syphilis and helped propel the modern sexual era. There was much more sexual activity than people would admit. They just didn’t talk about it, another reason why the traditionalists were called the silent generation.8
How did the baby boomers impact attitudes about sexuality?
The 1960s in the United States was a period of upheaval that led to changes in society and in social norms. The civil rights movement was followed by the women’s liberation movement in the late 1960s and 1970s. The birth control pill (known as “the pill”) was approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administration(FDA) in 1960. By 1965, 6.5 million American women were taking it.9 The “pill” was the most common form of birth control and, it emancipated a generation from the worry of unwanted pregnancy. Dr. Ruth Westheimer talked frankly about sex on radio and television during the 1980s. Her European accent may have reminded audiences of their grandmother. The baby boomers, considered the transition generation to “free love,” experienced openness about sexuality from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Boomers were instrumental in changing the history of sex. After about 500,000 men and women congregated at Woodstock in White Lake, New York in 1969 for three days of peace, love, sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, outdoor sex became acceptable Boomers made indoor sex more exciting. Plato’s Retreat was a famous swingers club, a symbol of free-sex in New York City. Although only couples were admitted, they were encouraged to mingle. Those who did were interested in exhibitionist sex and made use of the public mat room.10
Boomers were also suburban swingers. When attending a party, men would drop their car keys in a bowl placed at the front door. Upon leaving the party, the women would choose a set of keys and leave with that man to have sex. There were approximately one to two million swingers, and the majority of them were middle-class suburbanites. Swingers wanted to have sex with people other than their spouse. They were anti-drug and anti-hippie. Swinging was very different from the anti-establishment, youth culture’s “free love”attitude of the 1960s-1980s sexual revolution. By the mid 1970s, swinging was no longer considered a novelty, and it declined in the United States.11
Boomers altered the terms used to describe having sex. Sexual intercourse was now referred to as “balling” in the 1960s. In about 1977, sex was termed “doing the nasty,” “boinked,” “got laid,” “nookie,” or “screwed.”
Dating rituals were also influenced by the boomers who started the one-night stand. A national survey of 33,380 adults indicated that boomers had more sexual partners than the millennials.9 Boomers promoted the expansion of sexual freedoms, sex therapy and enhancements, including sex toys and lubricants. For them, sexuality is equivalent to vitality.12
Boomers and Traditionalists End Notes
- Pew Research Center
- com, 2017
- Senior Advisor, 2015- Blog
- United Census Bureau, 2014
- Achenbaum, 2011
- National Center for Health Statistics,1991
- Achenbaum, 2011
- Francis, 2012
- Nikolchev, 2010
- Brenoff, 2016
- Samuel, 2013.
- Brenoff, 2016