In her new book, NIU professor Amanda Littauer tells the history of young women who stood at the center of major cultural change and helped transform a society bound by conservative sexual morality into one more open to individualism, plurality and pleasure in modern sexual life.
Littauer will deliver a talk on the book – titled “Bad Girls: Young Women, Sex, and Rebellion before the Sixties” – at 2 p.m. Friday, Sept. 18, in the Thurgood Marshall Gallery if Swen Parson Hall. Littauer holds a joint appointment with the Department of History and the Center for the Study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.
Building on a new generation of research on postwar American society, the book traces the origins of the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s. It shows that sexual liberation was much more than a reaction to 1950s repression because it largely involved the mainstreaming of a counterculture already on the rise among girls and young women decades earlier.
From World War II-era “victory girls” to teen lesbians in the 1940s and 1950s, these nonconforming women and girls navigated and resisted intense social and interpersonal pressures to fit existing mores, using the upheavals of the era to pursue new sexual freedoms.