By Jenni Murray
Last updated at 10:09 PM on 5th May 2010
October 1968 and an 18-year-old student is beginning to settle into her first term at university.
It’s her first taste of freedom away from the watchful eyes of strict parents and grandparents.
The sexual revolution – that heady period that to her contemporaries had meant ‘nice girls did, if they felt like it’ – had been far from an option for the only daughter in a family where nice girls absolutely didn’t. Now was her chance.
She, of course, was me.
Swinging was the way the Sixties is remembered, and it may well have been OK to tune in, turn on and drop out in a flower power frock if you lived in London and frequented Carnaby Street, but for most of us in the provinces it was a hard slog to get GCEs and A-levels and perhaps be the first in your family to get to university.
Becoming an unmarried mother was an unforgivable sin. One girl in my class made the mistake, was expelled from school and rejected by her parents. Most girls were sent away and their babies adopted.
My generation was only too aware that pregnancy was an absolute no-no. It would bring our ambitions to a halt, and in my case give my mother such an apoplectic fit she might never allow me to darken her door again – a threat she had made on many an occasion. ‘Don’t you bring disgrace to this house, my girl,’ still rang in my ears.
But sex was another matter. We knew, naturally, about the recently available ‘Pill’ – a mythic medication, known not by its brand name but by the broadest generic nomenclature ever applied to any product – just The Pill.
It was officially approved in the U.S. on May 9, 1960, 50 years ago this week.
Within three years, 2.3 million American females were taking it and usage quickly spread throughout the Western world. Today it’s taken by more than 100 million women.