Sexuality And The 1950’s Girls

James M. Ridgway, Jr.
3 min readJun 26, 2016


In the area of female sexuality, the 1950's was a transitional period between the long held social norm decreeing that good girls weren’t supposed to enjoy sex and the sexual revolution of the late 60’s and early 70’s that was aided in large measure by the advent of “the Pill.”

Sex in the 1950’s was beginning to be openly discussed, with mainstream movies hinting at the fact that there could be some physical naughtiness associated with romantic love. But still it was something not to be enjoyed by nice girls, much like that which still exists in certain Middle Eastern and African paternal cultures today.

On the great silver screen, the Doris Day girl next store romantic comedy — sexuality lite — was the hit of the times with women. Sex was still portrayed as something only to be semi tolerated by women, a kind of cutesy pie leverage to be employed by ladies to get from men what it was they were suppose to want out of life — a husband and children. Indeed, recreational sex, free love, was still frowned upon by society.

The anti sexuality norm of the 1950’s was inspired by the still heavy influence of religion of the times. Religion has always seen it being in its own best interest to repress enjoyment of any kind, but particularly sexual enjoyment. This based upon the reasoning that the less enjoyment folks derived from their earthly existence the more they would be attracted to religion’s promise of a heavenly paradise. In fact the Catholic Church still preaches against contraception as a means to hopeful try and repress one of humankinds best forms of enjoyment. Today, however, few among the faithful flock pay this dictum much heed.

When it came to sexuality and the classes during the 1950’s, there was quite a noticeable difference. Middle class and the lower middle class girls being somewhat naïve took traditional sexual taboos to heart. Conversely the worldlier upper class and upper middle class females for the most part were immune to anti sexual social bias. Of course they were discreet about how and with whom they deployed their physical charms, usually only with those boys for which they held a serious romantic attachment.

If, however, an accident happened, and without the pill accidents did happen, upper class girls families had the means to send, if need be, their daughters off on an extended vacation to visit a grand aunt or study aboard until the problem was resolved. Unfortunately for lower class girls it was the Scarlett letter treatment, the fear of that possible hell being perhaps the greatest deterrent to sexual enjoyment.

The anti sexual establishment had another rather cleaver devise to keep the ladies “pure.” They encouraged women to scorn females thought to enjoy sex as whores and sluts. In other words as a reward for their own sexual repression they were given an opportunity to express an outburst of moral superiority. Unfortunately by doing so they set in concrete a sexual guilt complex that corroded their own later in life sexual activities.

Many of the 1950’s girls developed what may be seen as a spit personality of sorts whereby on occasion they totally succumbed to their libido and could derive great physical enjoyment from sex. On the other hand they could never quite overcome their social conditioning that good girls weren’t suppose to enjoy sex.

This bizarre combination of wanting to race the engine with the brakes on can still be seen in woman today who are now in their seventies. These now senior citizens can be observed on occasion foaming at the mouth talking about whores and sluts, both as a means to once again exercise moral superiority and as a smokescreen to try and cover their own feelings of sexual guilt put upon them by the good old 1950’s.



James M. Ridgway, Jr.

Jim Ridgway, Jr. military writer — author of the American Civil War classic, “Apprentice Killers: The War of Lincoln and Davis.” Christmas gift, yes!