Whether it’s dangerous chemicals, unhealthy habits, risky parenting, or shockingly blatant prejudice, we reveal how far the march of progress has come in the past 60 years or so. In this post, we explore 16 things that were commonplace in the 1960s that will seriously disturb our more modern, progressive sensibilities.
Sexism at Work
In the 60s, it was the norm for working women to be treated as inferior to their male colleagues, working in an environment of unequal pay, demeaning comments, and clear glass ceilings. Frequently forced into secretarial or domestic positions, it was impossible for women to enter certain professions, let alone reach the height of their chosen careers.
The Civil Rights Movement may have been in full swing, but segregation based on skin color and racial discrimination were shamefully prevalent during the ’60s. Restaurants, schools, and public facilities were often segregated, designated as ‘white’ or ‘black.’ Guess which ones were better funded!?
In the ’60s, the environmental movement was only beginning to gain momentum, and the general public was unaware of issues such as pollution, wastefulness, global warming, or their own impacts on our planet. Following advancements in scientific research, better sampling techniques, and greater funding, we’re now far more conscious of environmental change.
Automobiles of the 1960s lacked many safety features we take for granted today; seatbelts were scarce, airbags were non-existent, and crash standards were minimal at best.
With the Vietnam War raging, the ’60s saw many young men drafted into a distant conflict, often against their will. Even though the motivation for war and the reported atrocities were highly contentious and sparked mass protests, many soldiers were legally forced to fight regardless of their desire to do so or personal opinion.
The ’60s was not an easy time for LGBTQ+ individuals. They faced open discrimination, abuse, and marginalization, often living their lives in secret for fear of being ostracized or attacked. The Stonewall Riots in 1969 marked a turning point, as members of the gay community retaliated to homophobia-fueled police brutality.
Harmful Beauty Standards
The 1960s version of the ideal woman was white, slim, and heavily made up. These narrow and unrealistic beauty standards led to harmful body image issues among women who didn’t ‘live up’ to such unobtainable ideals.
Our modernized society is gradually embracing diversity in beauty, accepting different body shapes, skin tones, hair types, and clothes sizes, as is evident by the more diverse range of women involved in modeling.
Questionable Children’s Adverts
Marketing to children was a lawless frontier in the ’60s, with companies shamelessly promoting sugary foods, inappropriate toys, and other products without any regard for ethics or honesty.
Such careless exposure often resulted in poor diet choices or dangerous, age-inappropriate behavior among innocent young viewers.
DDT is an insecticide widely used in the 1960s, celebrated for its effectiveness in controlling insects like mosquitoes while being colorless and virtually odorless. Unbeknownst then, it had catastrophic impacts on wildlife, particularly birds.
With the benefit of further research and the development of alternatives, DDT has long since been essentially banned.
Lack of Accessibility
Back in the 60s, disabled individuals did not benefit from modern legislation aimed at ‘leveling the playing field’ somewhat. Before the Americans with Disabilities Act, public spaces and buildings were designed with only the most able-bodied people in mind.
Corporal Punishment in Schools
It’s hard to imagine, but there was a time not so long ago when schools considered inflicting physical harm on a child an acceptable method of discipline. Such violent punishments would be met with horror today and deemed wholly unacceptable.
Overuse of Antibiotics
The 1960s saw the rise of antibiotics as a miracle cure, and doctors often prescribed them without restraint or careful diagnosis. Such a blanket approach to multiple complaints meant that antibiotics were frequently prescribed inappropriately or in unnecessarily high doses.
Unsafe Parenting Practices
Parents in the 60s often did things that would raise eyebrows among modern parents. It was common to leave young children unsupervised, allow unrestricted sugar, or use physical punishment.
No Reproductive Rights
Women in the ’60s had little personal autonomy over their reproductive organs and limited access to birth control or safe, legal abortions. This led to increased instances of unwanted pregnancy, extra large families (often living in poverty), forced marriage and prioritizing a fetus over the mother’s own health and well-being.
Lax Airline Security Flying
Before the days of 9-11, airport security was a far more casual affair. Passengers could often walk directly from the ticket counter to the plane without being stopped. They could even bring their family or friends to the gate to wave them off!
Low Food Standards
The 1960s had few requirements for food safety, product quality, or accurate labeling. It was common to use ingredients or additives that would be deemed harmful today, and nutritional information was either vague or absent. This meant most people didn’t know what they were putting into their bodies, even if they wanted to.
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