During the 1960s and 1970s, new behaviors emerged from a once very conservative and restricted time period. This new way of acting shocked many Americans and quite understandingly created tensions and fashioned rifts in society. There was what is now known as a “generation gap”. This basically meant the younger generation had started to move away from the older generation. Howard Zinn directly relates this rift to the way in which people now thought it was perfectly appropriate to be gay. Being people thought initially that this practice only occurred within the younger generation, many were proved wrong as middle aged people and also old people were changing their was that astounded others. At the same time however, many young people remained straight.
I believe Howard Zinn chose to bring up the topic of gay people, as society in that period now felt open to the whole idea of it all. Individuals openly spoke about affairs, which before would not have been possible without severe circumstances. People now also felt the need to no longer conceal homosexuality and many went as far to combat discrimination. A sense of community was in search. Times were changing and society changed to a society that we experience today and are very much aware of.
Furthermore. I believe the title of this chapter was called Surprises as even the media began to reflect this content spreading awareness and the idea that this sort of behavior is now ok. “Court decisions overruled the local banning of books that were erotic or even pornographic” this resulted in this content being common in literature and even in normal every day conversation.
Another group of people that definitely changed during the 1960s and 1970s were women. Women were primarily viewed as being housewives, however, women now had more freedoms, which enabled them to vote and work openly. However, once men felt that that women had done enough whilst they were away, they were in a sense “put back into their place” which understandably led to Women’s struggle over change.
“World War II had brought more women than ever before out of the home into work. By 1960, 36 percent of all women sixteen and older- 23 million women-worked for paid wages. But although 43 percent of women with school-age children worked, there were nursery schools for only 2 percent- the rest had to work things out themselves. Women were 50 percent of the voters-but (even by 1967) they held 4 percent of the state legislative seats, and 2 percent of the judgeships”
This showed the impact and freedoms they had during the war, however it now shows the reality for women once things were back in order. Alice Rossi, feminist and sociologist states:
“There is no overt anti-feminism in our society in 1964, not because sex equality has been achieved, but because there is practically no feminist spark left among American women.”
The surprise is not necessarily that women were treated unequally after they had been granted with freedoms, but that established women from this point on now had an effective voice in the midst of American Society