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But the overarching story of an oppressive past and a debauched, out-of-control present has remained consistent.

As Australian newspaper warned in 2009: “[m]any teenagers and young adults have turned the free-sex mantra of the 1970s into a lifestyle, and older generations simply don’t have a clue.” The truth is that the past is neither as neutered, nor the present as sensationalistic, as the stories we tell ourselves about each of them suggest.

A rich sex life is both a necessity and a fashion accessory, promoted as the key to good health, psychological vitality and robust intimate relationships.

Sex was no longer a source of consternation but a cause for celebration; its presence not what made a person morally suspect, but rather its absence.The previous spring, Betty Friedan had published , giving voice to the languor of middle-class housewives and kick-starting second-wave feminism in the process.In much of the country, the Pill was still only available to married women, but it had nonetheless become a symbol of a new, freewheeling sexuality.The 1950s weren’t as buttoned up as we like to think, and nor was the decade that followed them a “free love” free-for-all.this year found that although young people today are more likely to have sex with a casual date, stranger or friend than their counterparts 30 years ago were, they do not have any more sexual partners — or for that matter, more sex — than their parents did.

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