Lehigh University, Class of 2003
May 2000

                                          The Love at Woodstock (John Sebastian)

 [1]    The most interesting and influential decade of the twentieth century was the 1960's. The 1960's had the counterculture.  The counterculture was extremely against the "norm" of United States' society.  They brought about the end of trusting the government and the end of believing that the government does the best for you.  The counterculture almost single handedly brought down the morals of the country, especially in terms of sex and loving. They also brought out the gay movement to the public for the first time. In 1969, Woodstock, a three-day event of music and free love, became the pinnacle of the "hippie" movement.  It showed the number of people who believed in this movement, and it proved many things about this culture.   It proved that these people could function together and could live in peace and harmony and could live in a commune in which all people were equal.  They proved themselves to the world that they could walk the walk and talk the talk. It seemed anything that the mainstream believed, the counterculture would try to do almost the exact opposite.  This belief can overwhelmingly be seen in the subject of sex.

[2]    In the subject of sex, the counterculture movement started the sexual liberalization movement.  The mainstream citizens had beliefs of marriage before sex, loyal sex partners, and they did not talk about sex.  This was a "180" from what the hippies believed.  First, the hippies considered sex as a drug for physical pleasure.  Sex was supposed to be free and fun; it was a wonderful feeling and should be shared by all.  The counterculture believed that free people should express their sexuality as they chose.  Hippies wanted sex not to be forced, but just not restrained, according to Timothy Miller.

[3]    Numerous Feminists also liked the beliefs of the hippies.  The counterculture believed sex was about the human touch, without conquest or dominance.  This makes people not afraid of their bodies and expressing themselves.  It is almost as if man and women are equal.  The hippies believed that people should be able to make love and not to feel guilty about it. Feminists also felt in this counterculture that they had equal bodies and there was no dominance in a sexual way, causing the feminists to get along with the hippies because they felt as if they were not discriminated against.

[4]    In the counterculture, there were hippies who did not believe in all the ideals that were associated with the "norm."  First, homosexuals became a part of this culture because they were accepted by the hippies.  The counterculture believed in free love, therefore loving anybody no matter what sex they were.  The hippies were sympathetic to the homosexuals according to Miller.  Miller states that homosexuals during this period felt that their lifestyle was good and natural, and all private acts between consulting adults should be allowed.  Through this counterculture, homosexuality was brought into the public eye, causing these homosexuals not to be as hidden as once were.  So ultimately the counterculture brought about the first positive fight for gay rights.

[5]    Although groups like homosexuals and feminists did join the counterculture, a few feminists argued that the counterculture set women back more.  They believed that this free love was only for male pleasure and not for women.  These women felt that the hippie culture was just a plot for male-dominated sexuality.  They believed that these men were narcissist.  They felt that these men sought sex not for sex but sought it for their ego inflation, according to Miller's essay.  These women felt "The idea of sexual liberation for women means she not so much free to fuck as to get fucked over."  These women started to loathe men.  One group called SCUM, Society for Cutting Up Men, believed that they should get rid of the male sex.  With these beliefs many women started to look into lesbianism.  They felt "love between equals is healthier than sucking up to an oppressor."  Although many feminists agreed with the counterculture movement, a small group that believed all men should die.

[6]    Nudity is a big part of this free love belief and was probably more important than the sex.
The counterculture believed that clothes hindered "interpersonal communications."  They believed that clothes caused selfishness, jealousy, and possessiveness.  These people wanted to live in a
community where they were equal.  Different types of clothes and other possession caused people
not to be equal.  Some people could have expensive clothes, others could have rags, so with no
clothes they were equal.  There were no "hang-ups" if no one wore clothes.  They believed that if we would look at genitals as a significant part of the body, then people would not be afraid of nudity.  No clothes gave the counterculture freedom, and it defied the mainstream citizens.  Hippies wanted to be in communes with everyone equal and being naked -- putting the human race in the form of the Lord, and the Lord made everyone equal.  Hey, if God made it. then it can not be ugly so show it.

[7]    Sex and nudity were extremely controversial during this time.  The mainstream citizens did not talk about sex nor walk around nude.  When they saw  kids on TV walking around naked, they flipped because their morals told them not to do that.  The human body was not talked about in the "norm" and, so, the counterculture believed that material goods were the downfall of society.  Therefore, they just did not wear any clothes sometimes.

 [8]   I believe the scene where John Sebastian playing a song while the camera shows a little commune inside Woodstock all nude is a perfect example of the counterculture movement.  I believe that this depicts the whole belief the counterculture stated.  We see every sex and age person walking around like everyday normal life.  They look happy and very free, almost like they did not have a care in the world.  I think the film represents this point very well for the counterculture.  In our everyday lives today, we see people being jealous of the clothes someone is wearing and the jewelry they own, and these people in this commune do not have that.  They are just being themselves, not trying to impress, and having a life without material goods.  I mean I felt really happy, with almost a smile on my face watching that part because they were just themselves.  And we all know it seems everyday that we have to put on an act for someone.  The hippies did not have to worry about that; they lived their life the way it should be lived.  The movie captured this too, because it gave this part a sense of calmness as if it was a perfect society.  The hippies did not care for riches and wealth, yet they were still happy.

 [9]   Therefore the movie brought a successful transmission of what ideal counterculture was.  It showed we do not need material things to live a happy life and that we can live in harmony if we do not worry about such things.  The only problem with this part of the movie is that it is not really a true representation of the history.  The nudity belief seemed to be only for some of the hippies.   Many hippies were not as "free" as this group, but nudity did show the world that, hey, this belief was not dumb; it did work because people did not get into fights nor idolize others because of their possessions.  Everyone was equal with no clothes on. Although not everyone took their clothes off, the nudity belief did show others how simple and less possessive society could be.

[10]    As a whole, I believe this movie was a good historical document.  Some people say no, but I think they just do not want to have proof that something like what was going on could actually work.  That there were no fights or things of that nature.  People were just shocked at how well it did work with so many people in a small spot.  My personal feelings about free sex are somewhat different from that of the hippies.  First, I do not believe open sex like that is right and is ridiculous to do.  Although I do not agree with that, however, the hippies did have some good ideas.  The one that caught my mind was about sexually transmitted diseases.  They believed that one should immediately get treated and tell everyone else that you did have it and to be careful when possible.  They were open to the disease and did not shun it nor hide it away.  I think if this attitude was more accepted then, these kinds of diseases would be gone.  Society now gets in trouble because they keep things like this secret, which causes the proper precautions not to be done.  Although I do not believe in some hippie ways, I do think that their other values were strong and very good.