In the late 1960s, new attitudes toward sexual expression burst out all over. The Be-Ins and Love-Ins portrayed on TV and in movies may not have been everyone’s reality during the Summer of Love, but compared to the straight-laced morals of the era before, the times, they had a-changed.
In the 70s, the free sex attitudes raged on, and because of the Women’s Liberation movement, an added factor was women feeling stronger and stronger about making their own sexual choices. A woman could choose powerfully to have sex or not to have sex. With the birth control pill in wide availability and in demand, a lot of women were clearly choosing sex.
By the mid-80s, something would happen to put the breaks on the roaring train. The rise of the AIDS epidemic had a lot of people living in fear. More and more people were getting sick. At first it seemed that you would only get it if you were a gay man, but it soon became evident that that was not the case. People began to get educated about using condoms, dental dams, having fewer partners, and other safe sex techniques. Unfortunately, it was not just a change in behavior for medical health reasons that was talked about. A new moral upsurge began to cast disdain on those who would prefer to be freer with their sexuality.
Many Reagan-era young people began to think that the free love of a generation back was sinful and that those who engaged in free love would deserve any bad outcome they got. Others simply grew up in a culture in which sex was a dangerous, not a joyful thing to do. There will always be sex in teenage populations, but many of these kids refrained out of fear and with a twinge of judgment against those who chose to explore. Happily, many eventually got the message that with proper health education hot, guilt-free encounters were still possible.