The Politics And Culture Of The 1960s Hippie Movement


. e of the most famous rock bands on earth, as well talented amateurs looking for a start. An attendee described it as: Three days of love, peace, and rock! (Thompson 89). The concert epitomized the music and, indirectly, the hippie lifestyle of the sixties, and paved the way for the more diverse, drugged-up musical style of the early seventies. Illicit drugs were a prominent influence on hippie lifestyle and culture.By the mid-sixties, LSD and marijuana had overtaken America overnight. These hallucinogens were a social activity at least experimented with by virtually every groovy teenager in America.

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Numerous books were written both condemning and justifying the new drug phenomena. Drug proponents referred to Native Americans religious ceremony, spiritual and medical references in ancient texts, and Aldous Huxley’s book The Doors of Perception to defend their drug use. Eventually more toxic drugs such as cocaine, heroin, barbiturates, and amphetamines followed, used for recreation and often leading to fatal consequences.

Drugs became incorporated into the music industry as well; most musical artists used narcotics, often writing and performing songs while high (Harding 29, 31).The hippies’ social status as nonconformist, doped-up outcasts was paralleled by their fashion and lifestyle. Devout hippies lived modestly in communes and were strict vegetarians, respecting not only human but also animal rights. Modest living also applied to clothing. Hippies in the sixties did not consider fashion important enough to spend much time on, and on the contrary tried to look bad according to society’s standards.

Women dressed like peasants and wore psychedelic colors; makeup and perfume were almost sinful, and clothing was loose, comfortable, and unique (Michaels 328). Bright, swirling patterns for both sexes paralleled the acid rock style of their music.Both men and women grew long, unkempt hair and the men often grew beards as well.

To outsiders, the hippies seemed dirty, drugged, and disrespectful to their elders; it was exactly what they wanted (329). The hippie philosophy preached peace and toleration. Thus, they were supportive of all civil rights movements, supporting females, blacks, homosexuals, and foreigners on attaining rights and equal treatment. Hippie women wanted to be free.To relieve themselves of society’s burdens, many stopped shaving their arm and leg hairs. Further women’s liberation came with the invention of the birth control pill in 1960 and its perfection in 1963; women were finally sexually free.

Female philosophy changed overnight; instead of waiting till marriage for intercourse, many women now making love to the first guy she saw. Dating virtually vanished; hippies had sex first and got to know each other afterwards. With increased sexual freedom and the lack of widespread sexually transmitted diseases, promiscuous sex flourished during the 1960s (Thompson 44).Having gained sexual freedom, women were now fighting for rights outside the bedroom. Betty Friedan forms The National Organization for Women (NOW) in 1966 to gain women the same rights as men. Courses in women studies were instated at universities, men realized (as part of the hippie movement) that women should be treated more fairly, and efforts were made, unsuccessfully, to add an amendment to the Constitution to guarantee women’s equality. Though mainstream women also participated in these protests, both hippie men and women took an active role in ensuring equality for all (Buchholz 851-3). Another significant group, the black community, sought after its civil rights during the 1960s.

Numerous protests, both peaceful and violent, were held by black Americans to end centuries of discrimination, branded upon them since their ancestors arrived four hundred years earlier.Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X eloquently led the black protests, and most hippies enthusiastically participating in peaceful demonstrations for black civil rights (854-7). The Age of the Hippies, fortunately or unfortunately, did not last forever. In the early 1970s, somewhere between ’70 and ’74, the entire movement died almost as abruptly as it had begun. To many the entire hippie movement was just a fad that was no longer in.The Vietnam War, the main force driving the social revolution, was concluding; an anti-war march on Washington and San Francisco in 1971, accumulating over one million participants collectively, finally persuaded the government to end the bloodshed.

A protest sign read: The Majority is Not Silent. The Government is Deaf (Manning, 177-9). Yet there were other factors.

The hippies were getting too old to be hippies; almost all of the counterculture started with participants under thirty, yet those who began the movement had been in involved for ten years. These were the baby boomers, and the next generation was no nearly as large to form its own youth society. Furthermore, the music had gotten drugged-out; the performers were so stoned that their songs quickly became meaningless garble with no message.And what message was there to preach without the War? Drugs had destroyed the lives of many, and after realizing the negative effects many hippies no longer admired drugs, but feared them. Worst of all, little had been accomplished-dreams of world peace had failed. The Hippie Revolution lasted ten years with participation around the world, from the USSR to Great Britain.

Yet they accomplished so little. The teens were tired of waiting (Thompson 99-107).Women shaved their legs and piled on makeup. Men traded in their long hair and love beads for a business suit. There were those who remained hippies and moved to isolated communes, but they were relatively few. Life essentially returned to the days before the Hippie Revolution. In actuality, only a minority of the youth of the sixties actually entered the counterculture, but those who did left a lasting impression upon society, and most of all themselves (108).

The hippie movement of the mid- and late-nineteen sixties and the early nineteen seventies attempted to create a global society founded upon love and peace. Through nonviolent protests the hippies helped end the Vietnam War, gain black, women’s, minority, and homosexual civil rights, and spread friendship and harmony around the globe. Not in vain, the era lives on through their music, their peace sign, and their memories; Woodstock was even recreated in 1994.

The hippie influence is even prevalent in America’s society of 1998, which still possesses a youthful counterculture of sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Bibliography Works Cited Buchholz, Ted, ed. The National Experience: A History of the United States.New York, Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers: 1993 Gottlieb, Sherry Gershon.

Hell No, We Won’t Go! New York, Viking: 1991. Harding, Ryan. The 1960s: Politics and Pot. New York, Anchor Book: 1992. Manning, Robert. The Vietnam Experience: A Nation Divided.Boston, Boston Publishing Company: 1984.

Michaels, Lisa. Making a fashion statement. Glamour Magazine (May 1998). Thompson, Phoebe. The Flower Childern.

New York, Prentice Hall: 1989 Tollefson, James W. The Strength Not to Fight. Boston, Little, Brown and Company: 1993 Political Issues Essays.