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The Second Turning

The second turning represented a period of social introspection. The "gender gap" appeared in American politics, as young American women wore pants in large numbers for the first time, while asserting their rights to a political order that met their particular needs. Long haired young men championed womens' rights to their views in public (while disagreeing with them in private), even as differences between the sexes narrowed. The changes were accepted tentatively by the Silent generation, with gusto by later born boomers. This was the time for other kinds of rights, too, specifically gay rights and civil rights. People ceased to see why gays and minorities should be treated worse than anyone else.

The social emphasis shifted from the GI's "production" (of scarce goods) to the Silent's "marketing," (of themselves, and America's products). This was perhaps best personified by Darren Stephens, the loveable flack on "Bewitched." With his marriage to the "witch" Samantha (who represented a privileged class, not the occult), Darren had crossed class lines. In one episode, he referred to his "mixed" marriage, about the same time as others sweated out "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," helping to break down that (racial) barrier as well.

All this took place against the backdrop of an unpopular war in Vietnam that no one wanted to fight; GI's feared wartime inflation, Silents, the threat to social justice at home and abroad, and Boomers, the very real physical dangers of war.