Tag Archives: 1960s

The Assassination Of John F. Kennedy And How It Changed History (In All The Wrong Ways)

Assassination of John F. Kennedy - Wikipedia

For a certain people of a certain age, the date of November 22 will always carry a unique impact. No matter how many years pass or how many opinions are shared, it still affects them. It acts as a yearly reminder of a powerful moment in history that they experienced first-hand. From their perspective, the entire course of history changed on that day.

On November 22, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas in broad daylight in front of hundreds of civilians. To say the event was historic, as well as traumatic, would be an understatement of immense proportions. There are few dates in world history that many can single out as a turning point. This is one of them.

Now, since this was such a monumental moment in history, this event has been the subject of a lot of conspiracy theories, some more absurd than others. I’m not going to delve into those rabbit holes. All I’ll say is that pretty much all of them fall apart with the slightest bit of scrutiny. They also degrade and detract from the full impact of that day.

I know this because my father has frequently told me about this day. He was still a kid in 1963. He still remembers it vividly, so much so that I can sense it still affects him to this day. He frequently recounts how they all got this dire announcement in school the afternoon it happened. He also tells me about how schools were closed the next day and how much people dreaded what might come next.

Keep in mind, this was the middle of the Cold War. For everyone alive at the time, including my dad, nuclear war could’ve broken out at any moment. For all they knew, the death of JFK was just the first shot of World War III. All they could do at this point was brace themselves.

It’s hard for anyone who didn’t live through that to appreciate that kind of dread. I know many will cite September 11, 2001 as a date of similar importance to the current generation and while I do think that too was a major turning point in history, the JFK assassination was still bigger in terms of impact.

That’s a sentiment my father has also conveyed to me. He and plenty others who remember that day said that nothing was ever the same afterwards. Before November 22, 1963, there was still this sense that everything was getting better. We, as both a country and a world, were on the right track.

We defeated the fascists in World War II.

We were making social progress with the Civil Rights Movement.

The war in Vietnam hadn’t yet become the tragedy it ultimately became.

We were even venturing into space.

Then, this happens. The President of the United States is gunned down in broad daylight. Everything action, choice, and sentiment is suddenly fueled by fear rather than hope. This notion of looking forward to the future gives way to anxiously agonizing over the present. Fear becomes distress and distress becomes anger and from anger comes chaos.

The way the 1960s played out after JFK’s death certainly took a turn. My dad also had plenty of stories to tell me about that. However, he could tie a lot of what happened back to that fateful date of November 22, 1963.

Naturally, the notion of what might have happened had JFK never been assassinated has been pondered many times and inspired many elaborate alternate history scenarios. While they may make for great stories, they still don’t change how much real people and real history is affected.

In many respects, we’re still reeling from the impact of that day. I’m no history, but I still believe that November 22, 1963 changed history for the worse. Losing the President of the United States in such a public way didn’t just shake the world. It filled everyone with dread and anxiety, which has affected us on so many levels for years to come.

We’re still dealing with many of those effects. The turmoil and chaos from that date affected geopolitics, major wars, and social trends. Since few good decisions are made in the midst of such chaos, I honestly don’t believe we as a country or a society made the best decisions we could’ve after that day. The consequences of those decisions are still being felt by many, even by those who weren’t alive that day.

It’s impossible to grasp all the ways that the JFK assassination affected history. It’s just as impossible to appreciate how it still affects our lives to this day. With each passing year, more and more of those who were alive that day either pass away or bury away those memories. As a result, many younger people don’t realize just how impactful it was.

I may not have been alive on that day, but the world I live in was shaped significantly by the events of November 22, 1963. If you’re reading this, regardless of your age, there’s a good chance that applies to you too. Our world and our history took a dark, tragic turn that day.

We can’t change it.

We can’t forget it, either.

We can only appreciate its impact, learn from it, and try to move forward.

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Filed under Current Events, history, politics

A Quick Perspective On Controversy, Scandals, Politics, And Elvis’ Hips

Every controversy seems absurd when you look at it with enough hindsight. Think of all the big social and political controversies going on right now. From mansplaining and safe spaces to all-female movie remakes to sexy Super Bowl Halftime shows, there’s no shortage of outrage and moral panics. In general, I try to avoid contributing, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t affected to some extent.

Even if the issues feel genuinely serious, it’s worth taking a step back and maintaining a certain perspective. What seems serious now won’t always end up being that serious in the grand scheme of things. Things like the Cuban Missile Crisis were serious. The impact of playing Dungeons and Dragons don’t even come close. For the most part, these controversies become obscure footnotes in the history of pop culture.

In the interest of preserving a balanced perspective, I find it helpful to think back to Elvis’ hips. For anyone under the age of 50, I’m sure that sounds strange, but make no mistake. At one point in time, Elvis’ hips were the most controversial thing in the world.

It’s hard to imagine now, given the accessibility of sexy music videos and internet porn, but there was a time when Elvis Presley shaking his hips on live TV was the most scandalous thing in the free world. People at the time deemed his dancing too sexual and obscene. There was serious, genuine concern that this was just too shocking and lurid for innocent eyes to see.

Granted, this took place in 1956. The world was a very different place in 1956. However, that’s not exactly an ancient time period. There are plenty of people alive today who were alive in 1956. They lived through that controversy. They might have even watched that fateful episode of the Ed Sullivan show where Elvis dared to shake his hips in too sexy a way. Now, compared to a standard Beyoncé video, it almost seems quaint.

Even if it sounds absurd now, take a moment to appreciate the context of this controversy. There was a time when people genuinely thought Elvis shaking his hips was too obscene. These same people genuinely thought such overt sexuality would do serious damage to society.

Now, look at everything we deem too obscene, controversial, or damaging today. How much of it will seem just as absurd as the sexiness of Elvis’ hips several decades from now? We may think that our standards have been fully refined, but history has shown time and again that this rarely holds. What is obscene today may be mundane tomorrow and obscene again a decade from now.

Controversies are fleeting, petty, and often build on a foundation of absurdity.

People are often irrational, following emotions over logic while claiming every emotion is perfectly logical.

Trends are unpredictable and fleeting. In 1956 it was Elvis’ hips. In 2003 it was Janet Jackson’s nipple. Who knows what it’ll be this year or in the years that follows?

With time and perspective, it rarely ends up being as serious as we thought. Even if it was, people and society adapt. That’s what we have to do, as a species. We might make fools of ourselves along the way, getting worked up over something that ended up being so petty and contrived. The best we can do is laugh and learn from it.

Think about that the next time someone complains about a halftime show or a music video. Remember Elvis’ hips and the perspective they offer. It’s every bit as powerful as his music.

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Filed under censorship, human nature, media issues, outrage culture, political correctness, politics, psychology, sex in society, sexuality, Uncategorized

Why The Sexual Revolution Was Incomplete (And How It Can Be Completed)

hippies-free_-love_-600x521

Imagine, for a moment, putting together a piece of furniture, but stopping before it was finished. Depending on where you stop, chances are the furniture isn’t going to be as useful as you’d hoped. Sure, it may still function to some extent, but it’s incomplete. As a result, it can’t entirely do what it’s supposed to do.

With that idea in mind, imagine the same thing happening to a major social movement, a new vision for society, or a full-blown revolution. What happens if it stops before it realizes its goals? Even if some of those goals were unachievable, abruptly stopping an ongoing process or not bothering to adjust the methods of that process is bound to cause issues.

Some argue that the civil rights movement that began in 1950s was never completed. Others may argue that the French Revolution and the Russian Revolution were never complete, which was why they resulted in so much chaos and destruction. I’m not an expert on those subjects so I’m not going to wade into them.

However, I would support an argument stating that the sexual revolution that began in the 1960s was not complete and that has heavily influenced ongoing controversies involving sex, gender, and everything in between. Again, I am not an expert in this field. I am an aspiring erotica/romance writer. I’m about as much an expert as I am a wizard.

Expert or not, I do think that incomplete revolution is worth talking about in the context of ongoing gender-driven issues. We’re in the midst of pretty significant upheaval in wake of the anti-harassment movement, which I’ve talked about on more than one occasion and in some pretty eclectic ways. It may seem like this upheaval is very recent, but I believe its roots go back to the sexual revolution in the 1960s.

With each passing year, the sexual revolution gets a worse and worse rap. Conservative types will blame the sexual revolution for everything from human trafficking to the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals. Liberal types are starting to blame it on current social ills like the Harvey Weinstein scandal and so-called toxic masculinity.

To some extent, that’s understandable when you consider the context of the sexual revolution. As I’ve noted before, this major social upheaval emerged in a perfect convergence of factors. First, contraception and modern medicine made exploring sex less risky. Second, a generation of young people that has grown up in the exceedingly uptight 1950s rebelled.

Regardless of how you may feel about the sexual revolution now, it’s easy to understand why it happened when you look at the circumstances. A generation saw the state of sex in society and were not satisfied with it. As such, they sought change. Moreover, they sought radical change and not just in the classic hippie sort of way.

It wasn’t just about unmarried men and women having sex just to enjoy it and not make grandkids for their parents. The sexual revolution dared to explore and undermine taboos about homosexuality, monogamy, and gender roles. To some extent, the sexual revolution helped facilitate a new era of feminism that pushed for greater gender equality.

While I know feminism has some controversial connotations these days, the brand of feminism that emerged during the sexual revolution is one that I think most would support in 2018. They helped push for some of the legal protections and educational opportunities that have helped multiple generations of women and men alike.

Moreover, and most importantly to the gender issues of today, the sexual revolution attempted to normalize discussions and depictions of sexuality in general. One could argue that was the most critical aspect of the revolution, beyond the hippies and free love. After all, it’s next to impossible to have a meaningful discussion about anything if the topic is so taboo.

It’s also in this critical area, however, that the sexual revolution came up short. Sure, those involved did plenty of outrageous things, in private and in public, that shocked and terrified their more repressed elders. That was revolutionary for its time. However, they didn’t confront the stigma surrounding sex, at least not in a way that was gender neutral.

This is where I’m sure I’m going to draw the ire of both sides of gender-driven debates, but I think this needs to be said to add a little insight to the current debate. Yes, the sexual revolution did a lot to make sexual activity outside of marriage less taboo. However, that impact did not affect men and women the same way.

In wake of that revolution, men no longer faced as much stigma for fooling around sexually. The idea of “boys will be boys” became an accepted mantra. A young man fooled around in his youth, had multiple partners, and generally enjoyed himself without much shame. The sexual revolution helped him a great deal in terms of realizing his sexuality.

Ideally, women should’ve enjoyed the same freedom. However, that’s not what happened. There’s no “girls will be girls” equivalent. Even during the sexual revolution, women who slept around like their male counterparts were still subject to stigma. They were still called sluts and whores. They were generally looked down upon.

Now, before some start bemoaning “patriarchy” or something of the sort, it’s important to note that the source of that stigma does not come exclusively from men. In fact, according to a study done by Demos, other women were far more likely to slut-shame or use derogatory words to other women compared to men.

Regardless of the source, that lingering stigma that the sexual revolution attempted to confront has helped maintain a significant gender gap with respect to sexual freedom. It’s why men can be studs, but only women can be sluts, a frustrating double standard that has lingered well beyond the 1960s.

It may also be a significant factor in the current orgasm gap between men and women. Whereas the male orgasm is seen as routine and uncomplicated, the female orgasm has this elaborate mystique surrounding it. Just talking about it seems akin to talking about the meaning of life.

In many respects, that vast disparity reflects the current sexual divide. Men are still expected to be sexually aggressive. Women are still expected to be sexually reserved. Any deviation is subject to stigma. As is often the case with expectations, it doesn’t take much for them to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Due to that aggression, society has done a lot to cater to male sexual desires. That same system has done just as much to mystify female sexuality. It’s a grossly imperfect system, one that limits the ability of women to explore their sexuality without fear while giving men in positions of power more reason to pursue sex as though it were a holy relic.

That is not in line with the ideals of the sexual revolution. Love them or hate them, hippies had the right idea in terms of openness about sex. They did not divide the sexuality of a particular gender into something entirely different. They saw it as one thing that was worth exploring, but stopped short of pursuing it fully.

That shortcoming has had some noteworthy consequences. Reason Magazine nicely summed it up in a recent article about the sexual revolution and the sexual frustrations that current generations face.

The problem is not that sex has been over commodified as hardline feminists and conservatives (talk about strange bedfellows!) like to assert; the problem is that it hasn’t been commodified enough. The sexual industry in the broadest sense hasn’t matured enough yet to cater to the myriad and diverse needs of lonely single people (of both sexes). Where are the Dr. Ruths for single people facing confidence issues or looking for advice?

Now, none of this is to detract from the aspects of the sexual revolution that were misguided or had long-reaching consequences. The law of proportional backlash for social movements doesn’t care how complete or incomplete it is. Even if the sexual revolution had succeeded, it would’ve still incurred a counter-revolution of some sorts.

Regardless of its shortcomings, the sexual revolution got the conversation going on how we stigmatize sex. It wasn’t completed and there are plenty of flaws in our current sexual landscape to show that. Even so, that conversation is still worth having and I would argue it’s more important to have now than at any time in 1960s.

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Filed under gender issues, political correctness, polyamory, Second Sexual Revolution, sex in society, sexuality