Woodstock and the “Free Love” movement
Table of Contents
Woodstock music event
Woodstock refers to a popular music event that was held in the US, Max Yasgur Farm, located in Woodstock, New York City (Woodstock Story, 2017). It was a three-day event happened in the year 1969, between 15th and 17th August. The Woodstock event was meant to celebrate peace and music. This event was graced by more than 500, 000 youths who came to celebrate peace and music in what was later referred to as the Aquarian exposition (Brown, 2016). It was a paid event; however, on the actual date when the event was to start, the revelers brought down the gates and the walls and entered the event free of charge. The event was graced by popular American artists such as The Beatles, Joe Cocker, and The Who. During the event, there was a heavy downpour, shortage of food, accommodation, and poor sanitation that could have dampened the spirit of the revelers; however, the crowd maintained peace and love for one another.
The presence of the top American artists of the time gave the visitors an experience of different music styles that were played in perfect harmony. The half a million gathering at Woodstock demonstrated to the world that the youth could come together in one gathering to celebrate the culture of music peacefully, and hence, the event is a major symbol of peace in the country (Brown, 2016). Due to the 1969 Woodstock event, there have been produced some documentaries and films such as Taking Woodstock.
The music that was played at Woodstock music event consisted of extraordinary action from across the globe. For example, the exceptional performance from the music legends such as Joan Baez, The Grateful Dead, Santana, and Joe Cocker are considered historical by Americans (Heyden, 2013). The event gave an opportunity for the world to view on the same stage some of the best musicians in their respective field. For example, during the event, Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix performed on the same stage, and this led to the popularization of psychedelic music vein that is still a major influence on the modern day American bands. The Woodstock event was attended mainly by a group of American youth that was referred to as the Hippies. The Hippies were a group of American youth who had come together to resist the traditional ways of life. They resisted the conventional culture by introducing new ways of life including how they dress in what is considered to be the largest counter-culture archetype to take place across the globe.
Free Love Movement and how its philosophy challenge Christianity’s views
In a close relationship with Woodstock as a counterculture event in the US is the Free Love Movement. This refers to movement that was formed by American youths who were rebelling against the cultural norms of the society (Evans & Kingsbury, 2009). The proponents of the Free Love accepted all types of love through the elimination of the traditional roles associated with women and also wanted to separate the church and the government from interfering with personal relationships (Makower, 2009).
Those who advocate for free love argue that both men and women are entitled to the right of sexual enjoyment (Evans & Kingsbury, 2009). Therefore, there is no need for the government of the church to place any legal or social constraint towards free personal relationships. Placing social and legal constraints on personal relationships was a widely held notion during the Victorian era. However, the later era was marked by the emergence of new themes, for example, free love was linked with radical changes that took place in the social sphere. This was a major sign of an end to the repressive and authoritarian traditional culture. The emergence of free love is imputed to the resistant reaction against the defined gender roles.
Free love was and is still considered an idea that promotes promiscuity. This is due to the reserved nature of the 1970s society. In this regard, the Free Love Movement was a major challenge to Christianity due to its opposition to the traditional Christian teachings regarding sex and marriage (Perone, 2005). The concept of free love challenged the philosophy of Christianity since it promoted the illicit relationships, for example, the practice of having multiple partners. It is a Christian teaching that one should have and remain faithful to only one sexual partner, who in this case is a legally married wife. The proponents of the free love considered this to be a religious constraint towards free love by citing the element of consent between two adults. The concept of free love was also a major challenge to the philosophy of Christianity as it promoted short-term sexual relationships in the society.
Finally, it is the Christian philosophy especially that of the Roman Catholic Church that only married couples should live together (Makower, 2009). The church is against cohabiting between unmarried couples as it is considered fornication. On the other hand, the proponents of the free love movement advocate for free will in the personal relationship. For instance, two consenting adults are free to live together. Free love activists also claim that institutionalized marriage promotes psychological slavery and the habit of emotional possessiveness. Besides, free love advocates for the freedom that a woman should be free to use her body in a manner that she wills without restriction by the church.
The reaction of American Church react to Woodstock and the “Free Love’ Movement
The American church was in strong opposition to the ideologies that were promoted under the umbrella of Woodstock event and the Free Love Movement as elements of moral corruption. First, the American Church opposed the ideas of the hippies due to its opposition to the traditional culture that held the society together. Second, the American church was opposed to the ideas of the free love movement due to its promotion of promiscuity in the society. Free love advocated for freedom in personal relationships, including the freedom of using one’s body as one wishes, cohabiting, and freedom of any form of relationship. Therefore, the church opposed these ideas to maintain morality and sanity in the society (Misiroglu, 2009).
Influence of the event and movement in America and the American Church
The Woodstock music event and the Free Love Movement have brought about more freedom in American society and the Church, decades after they took place. First, the traditional ways of life, for instance, the traditionally defined gender roles have been greatly reduced as women are no longer considered subordinate to men (Ellis, 1870). Second, there is freedom regarding personal relationships, for instance, two consenting American adults are free to express their love for one another without any restrictions by the society (Heyden, 2013). Third, the female gender is more respected due to the efforts by feminist and civil rights groups in America.
I think that these two events are of historical significance due to the role that they played in the social culture. The two events fostered Cultural Revolution that brought an end to the traditionally defined gender roles and also the control that the state and the church on the activities of the members of the society, particularly, as regards to personal relationships.
These two events have had a negative impact on the spirituality of members of the society. As a staunch Christian, I believe that the ideas that were championed by the proponents of the free love are in contrast with Christianity. In my opinion, cohabiting among unmarried couples is immoral, the idea of women using their bodies as they wish promotes immorality, and the idea of any form of love between two consenting adults promotes gay relationships.
The two events have positive impacts on the emotional well-being of members of the society. First, the Woodstock event promotes peace and love, for instance, those who attended the concert felt love when they shared food and accommodation despite the shortage that was experienced. Second, the free love movement enhanced the emotional well-being of members of the society since they can now freely express their emotional feelings towards the people they love.
The two events have significant psychological benefits to members of present-day society. First, I believe that they have promoted free will in the society. This is due to the elimination of the traditional psychological chains that members of the female gender were tied to, for instance, their insubordination to the male gender. The events have also enhanced mental well-being of people as they are free to express their opinions and feelings that are out of what was considered to be out of the norm.
The events have major political significance. Woodstock and free love movement have enhanced the formation of laws that advocate for gender equality. I think this is a positive thing to derive from this element, especially due to the civil rights that have been achieved due to Woodstock music event. The free love movement has played a vital role in the development of laws that protect personal relationships and marriage, and this has helped people to enjoy the freedom of choice.
In conclusion, The Woodstock event was attended by half a million youth who enjoyed peace and music. The Hippie culture impacted the bases of conformity to its core, and it demonstrated that a large multitude of people could gather in one place for a common course despite the challenges such as lack of food and accommodation facilities. The event at Woodstock changed from being a simple music concert to a revolutionary event due to the impact that it had on the American and global culture. It changed the way the youth were viewed and how music and musicians were viewed in the society. Free love was based on the philosophy of liberalism that aimed at achieving freedom from the regulations that the church and the state had placed on individuals’ personal relationships. The concept of free love advocates for free unions between two consenting adults. The proponents of this free love argue that consent is the most important element that legitimizes a relationship, and therefore, third parties should respect other people’s relationship whether it is sexual or purely emotional. Finally, the two events have had significant impacts on the society. For instance, they brought about emotional, political, spiritual, and psychological freedom.
- Brown, M. (2016, August 15). Woodstock Festival: Where did the peace and love go? The Telegraph. Retrieved from, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/music/news/woodstock-festival-where-did-the-peace-and-love-go/
- Ellis, J. B. (1870). Free Love and Its Votaries. New York, NY: United States Publishing Company.
- Evans, M. & Kingsbury, P. (2009). Woodstock: Three Days that Rocked the World. Bath, BA: Palazzo Edition Limited.
- Heyden, W. (2013). Evolutionary Rhetoric: Sex, Science, and Free Love in Nineteenth-Century Feminism. Carbondale, IL: Southern Illinois University Press.
- Makower, J. (2009). Woodstock: The Oral History. Albany, NY: State University of New York.
- Misiroglu, G. (2009). American Countercultures: An Encyclopedia of Nonconformists, Alternative Lifestyle and Radical Ideas in US History. London: Routledge.
- Perone, J. E. (2005). Woodstock: An Encyclopedia of the Music and Art Fair. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press.
- Woodstock Story. (2017). Woodstock 1969. Retrieved from, http://www.woodstockstory.com/woodstock1969.html
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