Yes, Virginia, there was a time when everyone waited until their wedding night to have intercourse. And perhaps even more shocking: Yes, that's actually what they called it. For real. Everything about what currently occurs in our bedrooms has completely changed since boomers came of age -- including the fact that "what we do in our bedrooms" is no longer only being done in our bedrooms. Sex has spilled over on to our kitchen counters, our beaches and the front seat of our Ferraris if "The Wolf of Wall Street" is to be believed.
While boomers may not have invented sex (the way we did the Internet), we certainly pushed its envelope and altered the way it is done, with whom, when and where, and even why. Here are five things boomers have done to change the course of the history of sex:
1. Boomers made outdoor sex OK.
What? You thought Woodstock was about the music? Sorry to disappoint, but nobody was really listening to Jimi Hendrix. That's right. And while the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame knows of no head count of babies born nine months later, 1967 wasn't dubbed "The Summer of Love" because of Ritchie Havens singing "Freedom."
But freedom was at the core of things. In 1965, five years after oral contraception got FDA approval, 6.5 million American women were on the pill, making it the most popular form of birth control in the U.S. and freeing a generation from the fear of unwanted pregnancies.
2. Boomers made indoor sex more interesting.
Anyone remember Plato's Retreat? Me neither. But the notorious swingers' club epitomized the free-sex atmosphere of pre-AIDS New York City. Clothing was optional, only couples were admitted (although encouraged to mingle), and the centerpiece of the experience was a public "mat room" for exhibitionist sex. Going to the mats took on a whole new meaning when Plato's opened in 1977.
AIDS, of course, changed everything.
3. Boomers took honoring thy neighbor to the biblical level.
Long before car keys were collected at parties from those who drank too much, suburban swingers in the 1970s collected them for a different reason. As they entered the party, the men would deposit their car keys in a bowl by the front door. On the way out, the women would fish a set of keys from the bowl and that's who they'd go home with.
Boomers invented the American Swinger.
A Psychology Today report in 2013 dubbed the 1971 study by Gilbert D. Bartell "the most in-depth look on the swinging culture to date." And here's what Bartell found: Of the estimated one to two million American Swingers, most were middle-class suburbanites. In a fact that can only amuse, the Bartell study found that a whopping 42% of the male Swingers were salesmen. More than three-fourths of the female Swingers were stay-at-home housewives, most of them with kids. Contrary to what some critics believed, Swingers tended to be anti-drug and “anti-hippie,” not at all aligned with the lifestyle or values of the counterculture. Swinging, Bartell found, was something quite different than the “free love” of the sexual revolution, and its advocates wanted to have little to do with the rebellious, anti-establishment youth culture. Mostly, they just wanted to have sex with someone other than their spouses.
4. Boomers changed the language of sex.
Calling sex "intercourse" went out the window long before Bill Clinton wished Monica Lewinsky would have. While our former Prez "didn't have sex with that woman," the term for doing the nasty (that'd be circa 1977) used to be balling in the 1960s. For a while, women were "boinked," "porked" or "got laid." Sometimes, we got "nookie" or were "screwed" and occasionally they had a "slap and tickle." Today people "hook up." And of course, the F-word has been around since the cavemen and that's probably who still uses it the most.
5. Boomers changed dating rituals.
Because we fumbled them so badly, obviously! Aside from inventing the Internet, which made it possible for online dating sites to exist, boomers totally blew dating. We may have originated the one-night stand, but we always struggled with long-lasting relationships. Maybe the bad bar scene and the people our mothers fixed us up with were just the kiss of dating death. Admit it: If anyone today bellied up to the bar next to you and asked you what your astrological sign was, you'd probably run for the exits, right? Yes, much safer to sit with your tablet swiping Tinder prospects to the side.
Nowadays, you see someone's profile and start following them on Twitter. You check out their LinkedIn profile and see who they're friends with on Facebook. One of the selling points of some dating apps is that they actually show whether you have friends in common so you can do some real-time investigating. The result is that long before you meet the person, you know his or her online persona, which as one younger friend noted, sometimes is a total disconnect from the real person.
Still, we think it probably beats putting your keys in a bowl.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story cited 1969 as the summer of love when, in fact, the year was 1967.