Sex, drugs, R&R
Sun, 12 May 1996 21:25:53 -0400

Marc Gilbert took issue with some of my comments in an earlier posting. While I
am certain we would disagree if the terms of the debate were clear, I think that
in a few instances he has taken issue with things I did not say. I wrote in
response to a number of postings, focussing mostly on a recent posting by
Elizabeth Gips on sex, "drugs" and rock and roll in the Haight. Among other
things, I raised the issue of what I view as the failure of some of the extreme
tenets of sexual liberation in the era. Marc writes:

> The sexual revolution failed? Last time I
>looked, I saw women in positions of power undreamt of even in the
>sixties, but more important, I must ask who fought for the bizarre
>definition of sexual revolution Jeff mentions in his post? Any
>hands? No? I thought so.

As though I were being critical of Betty Friedan and not an ideology which held
that monogomous relations were passe. Who "fought for this bizarre definition"?
Who indeed! Unless I am mistaken, the notion of free love as the wave of the
future was fairly prevalent, and it was this that I was addressing. With
scholars like Norman O. Brown providing the intellectual underpinnings, the
notion of sexual freedom--not just as fun, mind you, but as a social answer--can
be found all through the era in different places, from the hippie Haight of
Elizabeth to what seems like the dismal forced orgies of Weather communes.

As Marc himself points out, "the vision that sees the 60s as only one or the
other of these has no historical reasonance at all. Movements are eclectic!" I
believe I was addressing one such aspect of an eclectic movement.

Marc continues with a criticism of some of my comments on innocence and

>The youth-dominated Sixties was an expression of failed adolescent
>idealism? First, there is the error of thinking the "movement" was a
>youth movement. [snip]
>As for the idealism! Please! From VVAW in Saigon to marchers before
>the Pentagon there was nothing but anger at lies and hypocrisy. Was
>that anger the death of innocence or its venting the clinging to a
>vision of innocence? In the words of the day, get real!

Once again, I suspect we are talking about different sides of the complex times.
As I have pointed out previously, I was not an activist or freak, but a member
of the Aquarian Silent Majority and (while I don't celebrate or defend my
status) my comments are more naturally directed to my experiences as such--as I
suspect Marc's are by his experience, perhaps, as a progressive and activist.
When I talk about GenX poking a stick in the eye of Woodstockers who do not want
to grow up, it is my cohort that I refer to. I make no claim as to how
progressives are living their lives--I'm not one. But I sure do know a lot of
folks who were intensely affected by the era who fit the bill in my book in
terms of some of the things I said.

So like I said, maybe we still disagree, but let's at least agree on what we're
talking about.

Jeff Apfel