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The Politics of Pleasure. The 1960s as a critical moment: key events The rise of a youth-oriented culture Sexual identity politics U.S. sexual politics Gay rights Sexual politics outside the US Independence of African nations The new religious conservatism

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The Politics of Pleasure

  • The 1960s as a critical moment: key events

  • The rise of a youth-oriented culture

  • Sexual identity politics

  • U.S. sexual politics

  • Gay rights

  • Sexual politics outside the US

  • Independence of African nations

  • The new religious conservatism

  • The religious right and left in Latin America

  • The politics of pleasure and the Brazilian Revolution

  • Sexual politics and revolution with emphasis on Brazil


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The Politics of Pleasure: A National and International View

What was happening in the 1960s as the oral contraceptive was made available?

The Cuban Revolution (1959)

The Cold War

The rise of military governments in many parts of the world

Rock and Roll

Patriarchy and race relations challenged

How did these events shape the politics of pleasure?


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The Rise of a Youth Oriented Culture

  • In the U.S. an unprecedented economic boom made youth consumption possible for the first time

  • In the U.S. and elsewhere, young people began to challenge the political order through participation in anti-war protests, revolution, and even anti-revolutionary protests

  • New body images, perpetuated through movies, television (which only began to be widely available in US in 1960s and rest of world in late 1970s), and magazines, highlighted adolescent figures (Twiggy) and increasingly muscular men

  • World demographics showed bulk of population under the age of 25-for a variety of reasons.




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Sexual Identity Politics

  • Sexual science used categories of sexual identities to stigmatize and declare groups outside of sexual normality

  • The 1960s initiated an era of sexual politics that was both personal and organized

  • Personal Politics= Individual rights to sexual freedom

  • Organized Politics= Groups dedicated to challenge laws in specific countries or states that prevented individuals from enjoying personal sexual freedom or reproductive rights without legal challenges

  • The United States not the only country where feminists organized to change laws, nor was it the only country where gays and lesbians organized and became more visible.

  • However, many strategies used by US groups emulated


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US Sexual Politics

  • Rise of second wave of feminism partly a response to male chauvinism of left wing groups associated with anti-war protests

  • Also a response to post-WWII emphasis on women’s role in reproduction rather than reproduction

  • Oral contraceptive made it more possible for women to time their childbearing years so that they could enjoy themselves before and after, as well as get satisfaction from careers

  • New kinds of sex manuals available in the 1960s—focus on pleasure, not responsibility

  • Women defined personal choice about their bodies, reproduction, and pleasure as part of their civil rights and began to fight for these rights



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Gay Rights

  • Gays and lesbians had organized before the 1960s to promote the decriminalization of non-reproductive rights. Groups included the Mattachine Society and the Daughters of Bilitis

  • Role model for gay liberation came partly from feminists, but even more from the African-American struggle for civil rights in the 1960s

  • Increased spaces for gay and lesbian entertainment in urban areas made it easier to socialize and to organze

  • Gay friendly cities such as San Francisco became magnets for those seeking greater freedom of expression

  • Might have remained a kind of municipal politics if the AIDS epidemic had not interfered.



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Sexual Politics outside the US

  • Europe far more tolerant than US of both prostitution and homosexuality.

  • Amsterdam became a European city known for tolerant attitude toward sex and drugs

  • Iraq, Morocco, Cairo became a favorite tourism spot for Middle Eastern men who sought entertainment not allowed by Islamic theocracies

  • Availability of legal abortion

  • Every newly independent nation, as well as established nations, had to face political campaigns regarding the rights of gays and lesbians and reproductive rights.



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Independence Dates of selected African Countries

  • Algeria 1962 (France)

  • Angola 1975 (Portugal)

  • Benin 1960 (France)

  • Botswana 1966 (United Kingdom)

  • Burkina Faso 1960 (France)

  • Burundi 1962 (Belgium)

  • Cameroon 1960 (France)

  • Cape Verde 1975 (Portugal)

  • Central African Republic 1960 (France)

  • Congo 1960 (France, Belgium)



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The New Religious Conservatism

  • Found not only in the Protestant world, but also in other cultures

  • Conservatism in the Middle East

    • Found among both Islamic and Jewish groups

    • Islamic fundamentalism related not only to the Israeli-Arab conflict, but also to the very notion of modernization, especially the increased power of women, and their ability to evade male patriarchy and control their bodies- first became visible to the West with the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in 1979

    • Jewish fundamentalism related to the increased fears of invasion as well as a desire to diminish the proportions of Arab citizens of Israel– strong emphasis on large families for political reasons


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The Religious Right in Latin America

  • In the 1950s various populist regimes in Latin America began the threaten the power of traditional groups. E.g. Peronism in Argentina, Getulio Vargas in Brazil.

  • The Cuban revolution planned to export revolution to the rest of Latin America as seen by Che Guevara’s adventures in Bolivia in the 1960s

  • Marxist and national guerrilla groups, comprised primarily of middle-class and peasant youth, rallied around the idea of challenging elites and demanding changes.

  • Elements of the Catholic Church, particularly the lower ranks of the clergy, supported guerrilla groups by redefining the role of the church in politics through Liberation Theology. They were opposed by senior clergy and the military:: Be a patriot and kill a priest. Thousands of people tortured and disappeared.


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Could the Politics of Pleasure Co-exist with Revolution?

  • Revolutionaries who sided with religious authorities, even liberal ones, had to reconcile their movements to religious demands

  • Those who opposed religious authorities were often sabotaged by religious conservatives

  • Even in Cuba there was strong opposition to homosexuality as anti-revolutionary, although divorce and abortion became readily available.

  • Revolution in Iran led to extreme religious conservatism and the restriction of sexual rights

  • The counterrevolution in Nicaragua meant the end of limited liberal rights for women

  • Religious conservatism in the U.S. is intent upon changing the Supreme Court ruling on Roe vs. Wade

  • Could we argue that the sexual revolution ended before


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Gay Politics and Military Rule-The Case in Brazil

  • The visibility of Brazilian gay community linked to transvestism, carrnaval, and costume balls that began in the early twentieth century in Rio and São Paulo.

  • From 1964 until the 1980s Brazil under military rule that often harrassed gay community even though no laws against homosexuality-however gay bars, saunas and periodicals thrived

  • By late 1970s improved ec conditions reflected in greater demand for male prostituttes—especially transvestites

  • In 1977 and 1978 groups of students, feminists, and workers began to organize to protest military rule and their civil rights-gays began to organize for their own rights

  • Sexually provocative US movies got past the censors- helped destabilize sexual norms



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Gay Identity Transformed in Brazil

  • Access to international information regarding gay liberation led to transformations in gay lifestyles

  • Instead of focusing on the transvestite feminized man and the manly partner, new, more egalitarian roles emphasized, where roles could switch—Had begun in 1960s, but spread.

  • By 1976 groups beginning to form to promote gay rights

  • 1980 first National Gathering of Organized Homosexual Groups in Sao Paulo


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