Bad Girls

Young Women, Sex, and Rebellion before the Sixties

By Amanda H. Littauer

280 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 7 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-4696-2378-8
    Published: September 2015
  • E-book EPUB ISBN: 978-1-4696-2379-5
    Published: July 2015
  • E-book PDF ISBN: 979-8-8908-4826-0
    Published: July 2015

Gender and American Culture

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In this innovative and revealing study of midcentury American sex and culture, Amanda Littauer traces the origins of the "sexual revolution" of the 1960s. She argues that sexual liberation was much more than a reaction to 1950s repression because it largely involved the mainstreaming of a counterculture already on the rise among girls and young women decades earlier. From World War II–era "victory girls" to teen lesbians in the 1940s and 1950s, these nonconforming women and girls navigated and resisted intense social and interpersonal pressures to fit existing mores, using the upheavals of the era to pursue new sexual freedoms.

Building on a new generation of research on postwar society, Littauer tells the history of diverse young women who stood at the center of major cultural change and helped transform a society bound by conservative sexual morality into one more open to individualism, plurality, and pleasure in modern sexual life.

About the Author

Amanda H. Littauer is assistant professor of history and women's, gender, and sexuality studies at Northern Illinois University.
For more information about Amanda H. Littauer, visit the Author Page.


"A well-crafted, deeply researched contribution to the field, this work will be eagerly read and digested by scholars of this understudied period in the history of gender and sexuality in America."--Library Journal

“Thorough and engaging, and it provides a useful addition to historical understanding of twentieth-century sexuality from female perspectives.”--Journal of American History

“Provides a new challenge to the ‘waves’ model entrenched in U.S. women’s history. . . . Contributes to a growing body of interdisciplinary work on girls’ and women’s studies.”--Choice

“Clearly demonstrates that women and girls – across demographics of race, class, and sexuality – found ways to reinterpret, circumvent, and challenge normative sexual mores and control.”--Labour/Le Travil

“A significant contribution to understanding the sexual landscape of the twentieth century and the impact of average Americans in shaping the beliefs and behaviors of a nation.”--Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth

“In this lasting contribution to the history of women, sexuality, and girlhood, Littauer maps a 'somewhere' where other historians are sure to follow.”--Journal of the History of Sexuality

Multimedia & Links


Littauer talks to Stephen Colbrook for the New Books Network podcast. (6/26/2019, runing time 1:18:44)