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The revolution of May '68 cannot be viewed independently of the "sexual revolution" that began in the late 1950s. The slogan make love, not war links the personal (erotic) with the social (political). It became particularly popular in the circles of the American counterculture in demonstrations against the Vietnam War. The rejection of monogamous marriage as an instrument of an authoritarian, male-dominated system goes back to the thinking of such figures as Emma Goldman and Wilhelm Reich. It was this student of Sigmund Freud who already launched the term “The Sexual Revolution” in 1936.
One month after May '68, Pope Paul VI announced the notorious encyclical Humanae vitae. The ban on any form of contraception caused many to desert the Catholic Church. 

The British professor Alana Harris compiled a book that sheds light on the ‘schism’ of '68. What is striking about this is that the same bishops who were taunted by the Leuven students were engaged at the Vatican in what proved to be a vain attempt to convince the Pope to authorize the pill. The young Antwerp historian Wannes Dupont explores this paradox.
Chantal De Smet was present at the start of the Dolle Mina’s, the first feminist movement in Belgium. With the filmmaker and performer Saddie Choua we discuss the continuum running from the sexual revolution of '68 to the #metoo movement of today.
Discussion moderated by Cathérine Ongenae.

Did you know?

  • Cultural workers of the world, unite!

    May ‘68 made it as far as the Centre for Fine Arts. On the evening of 28 May 1968, artists and writers gathered in a Brussels café. They all wanted to mark the event with an immediate collective action... And what an action it was!

    — published on
  • “Men can get involved, as long as the women call the shots”

    In May 1968, progressive young people revolted. They wanted to fight the status quo and have more of a say. “In Flanders, the protests broke out early on. We were ahead of the rest of the world”, explains Chantal De Smet, former “Dolle Mina”.

    — published on
  • Cooking with the heart

    Twice a week Collectactif organises tables d’hôtes that are open to everyone. The price of the meal is up to you: people pay what they want or what they feel able to.

    — published on