Free Love

Ready to ball?

If you’ve ever talked for more than 5 minutes to a guy from the sixties who “was there” he will eventually get around to dropping this phrase, “Sex… Man, back then it was like shaking hands.” You could be on an entirely different train of thought, like discussing dioramas of Detroit or why Vietnam would be a fun place to visit now, and without fail he’d bring it back to how coitus was just like doffing your hat. This is the phenomenomyth known as free love.

Let’s Ball
The story goes like this, the ‘60s were a sexual utopia free of social hang-ups, misogyny, racism and body-image stereotypes. Up until that point The Man had used religion, society and even Walt Disney as a weapon to keep men and women (or men and men, women and women, cats and goats etc.) from truly seeing each other as beautiful, realized individuals. Relationships were lies in which men and women were forced into as a means to perpetuate the dominate power structures that supported chubby white men and their plans on invading every country in the world, including New Zealand, especially the Kiwis.

Enter the enlightened hippie. As a way to foil the nefarious warmongers a brave few souls came up with an incredible concept: balling. Balling was simply this, “Hey, wanna ball?” Or, more accurately, less of a question and more of a directive, as in, “Let’s ball,” not wanting to ball meant you had bad energy, the worst social stigma imaginable in the ‘60s — like going to MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech as a Klan recruiter. Balling was a more refined version of having sex, it essentially stripped out all of the conversation, humor, adventure, mystery, seduction, time, attention, attraction and flattery that goes into getting into bed with someone you’ve never done it with before. According to free love proponents, this cut-to-the-chaseness regarding the two-back dance would supposedly undermine all of the bad things that The Man was getting up to, including mind control rays and lacing marijuana with cancerous spiders. (People from the sixties really believe this stuff.) Lest you misconstrue balling as a precursor to the porn industry, hippies gave it context: it wasn’t just balling, it was a purer form of communication, a primitive, spiritual sharing between 2, 3 or even 41 people, the point of which was to achieve a higher state of consciousness.

How banging a total stranger in between listening to the latest Mott the Hoople record and slapping together a tofu sandwich relates to elevating your consciousness is a mystery. What isn’t is why the free love phenomenon persists. To create an ultimately unassailable argument about why the ‘60s was the greatest time-period ever, even better than Miami circa 1986, you’d have to propose a whopper of a reason: free love is that reason.

Bunk Spunk
Now, let’s put this into perspective. As the nomenclature suggests, free love was a one-sided fantasy. After all, it’s not called “lipping” or “vaging.” Ask any woman from the ‘60s about free love and she’ll likely get an embarrassed crimson flush, look away and mutter something about being stupid, young and mistakes. Free love, like most sexual conceptions, is a male fantasy and like all male fantasies doesn’t bear scrutiny.

Grope Delusion
In the mythic retellings there are always slightly more women than men, everyone is 16 to 26, as tan as the end of a San Diego summer, gifted with Lance Armstong-like stamina and the clap hasn’t yet arrived. Throw in an orchard, bonfire, dew and a warm summer night and you’ve got yourself a hell of a party. Who wouldn’t feel bad about having missed it?

The reality is that the vast majority of hippies lived in urban areas such as Haight Asbury, which at the time were ghettos whose main attraction was cheap rent. Having abandoned society’s hang-ups concerning abstract ideas like “ownership” or “property”, your average hippie had approximately one pair of pants and a bandana that served variously as a sweat rag, napkin and towel; if he or she lived in a colder climate you could add a corduroy jacket to that wardrobe.

Picture a dilapidated 3-bedroom house in which 3 women and 11 men live. No one cleans this house because that’s just something The Man is trying to put over on you. Most windows are covered over with half-finished attempts at tie-dye, the results of marijuana’s two major effects: paranoia and lassitude. There are 7 dogs lying on the couch because all hippies need kindred animal spirits. A fecund scent of leftover curried lentils permeates the bongo collection, only slightly masked by the ever-burning sandbeetle dung incense. Where would you like the orgy to start? In the living room on top of the 33 Birkenstock sandals? Or should we all pack onto Steve’s, I mean Lightbeam’s, bed because his mom sent him those sheets last month?

Can you imagine trying to get laid in that house? Of wanting to get laid in that house? Don’t buy it. Sex in the ‘60s was just like it is now: tough to come by if you aren’t in the first 2-year window of a relationship.

April 29, 2011 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

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