Imagine for a moment that you went into a coma and woke up 40 years in the future. Of course, there would be certain things that you’d expect to find upon waking. Like, say, jetpacks, flying cars, commercial space travel, a cure for cancer… perhaps even instant noodles which don’t taste like feet. But what you probably wouldn’t consider is how culture might have advanced. Things that are totally unacceptable now, for example, may well be so commonplace in the future as to become utterly mundane. And for people of a certain generation, it’s actually kind of like that now. Because if you measure current trends against the state of play 40 years ago, it becomes obvious just how much the world has changed in a few decades.
20. Dropping the f-bomb
Swearing in general is far more socially acceptable now than it was 40 years ago. But in particular, swearing among women was virtually unheard of in the ’70s. Now, however, women are not only swearing as much as men, but some stats suggest that they might actually be swearing more. In particular, one British study conducted in 2016 revealed that female f-bombs in Britain have increased 500 percent in the past 20 years or so.
19. Get an inking
If you saw someone 40 years ago who was inked or had a nose ring, you pretty much instantly had an idea of their background. Take a walk down the street now, however, and you’ll see people of all walks of life with elaborate piercings, visible tattoos or both. In fact, estimates across the pond suggest that one fifth of the British population is tattooed. And if you look at 16- to 44-year-olds alone, that statistic rises to nearly a third.
18. Having kids outside of wedlock
Imagine walking into a TV show 40 years ago and pitching Gilmore Girls – a show about a single woman with a 16-year-old daughter. You’d have been shouted out of the room. But in recent years, studies have shown that younger couples are having kids out of wedlock far more often. In fact, a 2011 paper revealed that 57 percent of U.S. parents aged between 26 and 31 were having kids without getting hitched.
17. Enjoying casual hook-ups
People have been having casual sex for longer than the term has existed – it’s just that it’s never been socially acceptable. However, with the rise of dating apps such as Tinder, hook-up culture has become far more commonplace. In fact, 49 percent of Britons surveyed in 2014 said that they’d had at least one one-night stand. Meanwhile, 14 percent had had a casual hook-up with someone they met online, and a fifth said they’d slept with someone without first learning their name.
16. Donning a hat indoors
Here’s one you might not have thought about: 40 years ago if you were wearing a hat indoors, it was probably a Yamaka. Otherwise, you were being very rude indeed. But in this modern world of snapbacks, beanies and everything in between, wearing a hat indoors is far less questionable. There are, however, still places where you probably shouldn’t do it – churches, dinner parties or basically anywhere you have to dress formally. But outside of that, you’re unlikely to run into much trouble.
15. Airing your dirty laundry in public
It wasn’t necessarily that privacy was much more sacred 40 years ago. People were, however, definitely much less likely to have it out in public. There’s another side to it, though. We’re still very much in the developmental stage of social media, and many still use it to address their various personal grievances in a very public arena. It’s little wonder, then, that in 2014 “overshare” was Chambers Dictionary’s word of the year.
14. Watching pornography
There was plenty of porn around in the 1970s, but now it’s everywhere. And while you can’t exactly sit down and openly discuss it with your friends and family, the stigma around it has certainly faded. For example, a 2008 study conducted in U.S. college campuses showed that 87 percent of men and 31 percent of women aged between 18 and 36 had viewed pornographic material at some stage. It’s a hard statistic to gauge accurately, however, since many people simply won’t admit to their viewing preferences. There’s no doubt, though, that younger people are gradually becoming more open about porn.
13. Musical profanity
In 1968 the MPAA ban on swearing in films was lifted, which meant that even 40 years ago films were pretty profane. Music, however, was an entirely different story. Back in the ’70s and ’80s you’d get the odd racy number – but no actual swearing. But with the arrival of rap music, that all changed. Now, basically all genres of music have the potential for swearing, not only in the lyrics but even in song titles. In fact, some 25 percent of 2016’s top 40 singles on iTunes were labeled as explicit.
12. Become a stay-at-home dad
While the “man of the house” trope wasn’t as ubiquitous in a ’70s as it was ten or 20 years before, the idea of the father of the household staying at home while the mother worked certainly hadn’t caught on. And while it’s far from the norm now, it’s definitely on the up. In 2012, for instance, The Pew Research Center recorded that in the U.S., the number of fathers who didn’t work outside the house had reached two million.
11. Blurring the gender boundaries
Transgender, cisgender, gender fluid: these are all terms that would likely receive a resounding “what?” if you used them 40 years ago. Now, however, they’re slowly sliding into common parlance. Transphobia is still a massive issue, of course, but society has generally become far more accepting. In fact, after Caitlyn Jenner went public as a trans woman, NBC found that almost half of Americans believed that views on transgender people would only continue to improve.
10. Keeping your maiden name
At one point, taking your husband’s name was a fundamental and virtually unavoidable part of getting married. But over the past few decades, keeping your maiden name has become far more common. In 2015, for example, a survey in the U.S. revealed that 20 percent of recently married women had kept their maiden names, while a further 10 percent had opted to double-barrel.
9. Violence on TV
Sure, films were plenty violent in the 1970s, but TV was a different affair altogether. Yes, you might have got the odd crime scene or even murder scene – but little else beyond that. Needless to say, a show with as much brutal violence as Game of Thrones, True Detective or Breaking Bad would have never made it past censors. In fact, a 2013 study revealed that even among the teen-rated shows, violent content was now very much the rule, not the exception.
8. LGBTQ couples getting hitched
Four decades ago there was still plenty of stigma around being gay. And as a LGBTQ couple what you sure as hell couldn’t do was get married – although people did try. But in the last decade, more and more countries have taken steps to legalize same-sex marriage, either nationally or state-by-state. And now, it’s effectively legal in most of the U.S., U.K., Canada and 17 other countries.
7. Mixed-race relationships
In the U.S., all race-based restrictions on marriage were lifted in 1967, but it still took a while after that for society to become truly accepting of mixed-race couples and families. In fact, it’s only recently that we’ve started to see mixed-race families depicted on TV and film. For instance, in the U.S. and U.K., 2016 saw the release of Loving and A United Kingdom, respectively, two films that deal with the issue very directly.
6. Women in combat
It wasn’t even that long ago that women couldn’t join the army at all. But now, at least in Western nations, females have as much of a right to fight for their country as men do. In 2013, for example, the U.S. lifted a policy that prohibited women from joining units that went into combat. And while there are still a few combat roles that women can’t take on, it’s certainly a lot more even-handed than it was even five years ago, never mind 40.
5. Put your underwear on show
Difficult as it might be to believe, there was a time when a stray bra-strap would be an immense source of embarrassment. And yet now, some tops and dresses are actually designed so that the bra straps beneath are visible. Thong and G-string underwear became more popular in the ’80s, too, and by the early 2000s, low-cut jeans made to show the top of a G-string were all the rage. A 2007 survey, meanwhile, showed that 77 percent of women were more than happy to have parts of their underwear on display.
4. Smoking a joint
Weed wasn’t exactly unpopular in the 1970s, but the general societal attitude toward it was still fairly negative. For example, in 1978 a study found that 72 percent of Americans would not approve of a more lenient national attitude toward weed. And yet now, with weed becoming medically legal across more and more of the world, people seem a lot more chill about it. In fact, even President Obama has openly admitted to having lit up. Just imagine if Nixon had done the same.
3. Calling someone after 9:00 p.m. without enraging them
Forty years ago, before the days of iPhones and FaceTime, calling someone late was an epic faux pas. Today, though, you can sometimes pick up the phone after 9:00 p.m. without incurring wrath from the other end. A 2010 survey, for instance, revealed that 64 percent of people aged 16 to 24 think it’s fine to call someone on their mobile late at night. Provided, that is, they’re a friend or family member.
2. Breastfeed in public
Some people still get up in arms about breastfeeding. Generally speaking, however, the attitude is far more relaxed than it was four decades ago. Mind you, things actually started moving in the right direction in the U.K. in 1975, when the Sex Discrimination Act allowed breastfeeding in public. But it wasn’t until 2010 that breastfeeding women were legally protected from discrimination from businesses. Now, trying to prevent a woman in Britain from breastfeeding a child under two could land you a hefty fine. And that is on top of just looking like a complete jerk.
1. Get a wax
Bikini waxing has been around much longer than 40 years. But back in the ’70s, the “all natural” look was very in, for men and women. And for this reason, the idea of a man not only waxing, but also waxing off all of his chest hair? Ridiculous, unless you were a body builder. The number of men opting to go hairless is still in the minority today, but it’s become much more popular. In fact, male grooming is now a billion-dollar industry, and there’s certainly a lot less stigma around it. Hairy chests, however, are making a bit of a comeback, thanks to the lumbersexual movement. But today, it’s much more about style than acceptability.