'Free Love,' Etc.

Paul Henry Rosenberg rad at gte.net
Thu Feb 11 14:25:56 PST 1999

Kelley wrote:

> >Um, perhaps instead of looking for a "flaw in what was going on in the
> >60s" you might want to look at the material conditions that first
> >*allowed* something like that to emerge, and then made the cultural
> >re-assimilation so rapid.
> Ummm I believe that what Frances is getting at are precisely those things
> and, what you missed, the sexism!

Not getting at, since none of it was mentioned, which is why I did. Mention, that is.

The sexism was there all along, and is the one strand of that era that's been OVERLY emphasized. On the other hand, the agency of women -- helped along by the pill, among other things -- was something that had been crushed pretty hard after WWII, so I did chose to highlight that.

> Later, when I get a chance, I'll dig out
> _Freedom Summer_ and share a few quotes about the sexism that went on--the
> ways in which the 'free love' ethos was used against women both to get them
> to give it up and keep it in its proper place.

I know all about it, K. But by all means post it for the benefit of others. Just so's you don't use it to erase everything else that was going on -- including the empowerment of women (after all, they not only got pissed, they got ORGANIZED, remember?)

To my mind, BTW, the most salient point here was not that men were sexist going into the whole 60s scene (like, what else is new?), but that they FAILED to capitalize on the critical space opened up by feminism. Men's consciousness-raising groups did sprout up here & there, following the feminist model, but most died out real quick, and that was about the LEADING edge.

> > While it's fashionable to dismiss this aspect of the 60s when
> >it's not simply ignored, I think the truth is that it's just INCREDIBLY
> >difficult to deal with, simply because its so damn complex and
> >interconnected to everything else. Then the 70s came along and
> >simplified it radically (in ways you mentioned) which makes it SO much
> >easier to talk about, but utterly misses the dense complexity at its
> >core.
> Smoochey Smooch Paul, but I myself am feeling rather condescended to here,
> as a woman and as one of the Xers. In fact, all you condescending old
> coots keep it up <double maybe even triple! entendre most definitely
> intended> we're gonna get together--me, Frances, Alex, Alec, Eric, Liza and
> ALL the other Xers--and we're gonna secede from this divided union of
> marxish leftish bliss.

I'm afraid you misread my intentions, so I apologize for lack of clarity.

I was trying to point out the underlying conditions -- beginging with the solidly material, then working through to the softer, cultural -- precisely to take AWAY from the self-centered tendency to see it all as something that people around at the time were responsible for creating, and therefore could take credit (or get blame) for. This, IMHO, is the most pernicious of common assumptions that routinely gets us all mucked up. To be around in a certain time is simply an accident of history. What you do with it is something entirely different--which is where one can be credited or blamed, but even only within the context of larger forces.

We should be able to talk about a complex subject such as this without getting reflexively bound up in these personalistic issues. Ain't that what systemic critical thinking is for?

> Ironically, Liltingly Yours,
> Kelley

I'm sure you left out an adjective their, Kelly, but I'll let it slide in the interests of cross-everything solidarity.


-- Paul Rosenberg Reason and Democracy rad at gte.net

"Let's put the information BACK into the information age!"

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list