The sexual revolution and Hollywood

May 10, 2019 by Kathalynn Turner Davis

Moving from Maryland to Los Angeles in the late sixties with zero experience or even knowledge of sex was a culture shock, to say the least.  My Disney concept of romance was dashed pretty quickly upon arrival.  I learned about one-night stands and casual relationships.  I also witnessed some nudism, and orgy-type situations, but I never felt especially pressured to part-take in anything that would have made me uncomfortable.  Overall, my personal experience, when compared with other people's accounts of the time, was pretty tame.  

In my opinion, the free-love movement was not one-hundred percent a good thing.  I do not mean to romanticize the era beforehand, where people lived in fear of their sexuality and were completely suppressed; clearly evolution of our culture called for some liberation in that regard.  However, I think just as is the case with many social movements, the sexual revolution went too far.  Instead of liberating women to explore their own wants and desires, my opinion was that the pressure to keep our legs closed was simply repackaged as pressure to open them.  If a woman didn't feel sexually expressive, she was made to feel un-hip.  Words like 'loose' were exchanged for words like 'frigid,' which is equally suppressive and unfair.  

          As far as objectification and sexual harassment within the industry goes... it was rampant, but everyone knows that.  The standard of beauty shifted from that of the golden age, but that didn't make it any easier.  All the women I knew, myself included, were convinced that gaining a pound would be the end of the world.  I saw women and girls put themselves through physical and mental torture over the pressure to maintain a size that was minimum ten pounds underweight, as the expression "The camera adds ten pounds" was repeatedly drilled in our ears.  

          In addition, there were very few women in positions of power at the time.  We women had no choice but to rely on men to open doors and that kind of power often lends itself to corruption.  The difference between sexual harassment then vs. now is the naming of it and the acknowledgment that it is a bad thing, as opposed to accepting it as simply the way things are.  Thankfully, over time, and recently with the #MeToo movement, women have begun to reclaim their power and the days where predators can hold professional advancement over women's heads in exchange for sex are coming to an end.