Were hippies in the 1960s really discriminated against?

I can only address what happened south of the border. What the Canuckistanians constables did or did not do is outside of my experience.

It was really more about discriminating against long hair on males. If you didn’t live through the time, you can’t really conceive how angry and prejudiced cultural conservatives could behave towards young males wearing anything other than what was termed “A Regular Boy’s Cut”. If you were a high school student, your principal, varsity team coach, or the boss at your after school job could all dictate that you wear short hair, and often did. And that was before you got home and battled it out with your conservative parents over the dinner table. Of course, it was generally a divisive time in our history, and long hair was only a symbol; it was the things that long hair was believed to represent which aroused the cohnservatives’ ire.

As for the notion of the “dirty hippie”, it wasn’t unusual for people in the mainstream to assume that anyone who wore their hair like that was probably also shy of soap and water. Maybe some were, but the conservatives tended to paint everyone with that brush.

Come to think of it, I knew someone who was not allowed into some South American country – maybe Ecuador? – until he cut his hair. And for years back in that era, barbers were reportedly on hand over here at the Malaysian border, and no longhaired men could enter the country without availing themselves of their services first.

Yes, yes, because everyone knows that the ONLY place in America that ever experienced any kind of prejudice or discrimination is the South. Thank you for continuing to perpetuate this truism of American culture.

He didn’t say “only”, he said “especially”.

“Cops talked to me for being a homeless drifter squatting on private property and hitchhiking” isn’t exactly the same as being harrassed for what you’re wearing or how you’re wearing your hair. I’ve heard similar stories of “persecution” from my father, but as far as I can tell, it’s not a great leap from his actions to the police taking notice.

So did the 1% of “true hippies” have, like, membership cards or something? Or would notarized certification that you had been in Haight-Ashbury around 1965-7 have been enough?

Hippiedom was a youth “fad” (although the word is inappropriately dismissive for something that did indeed have profound and lasting impact on the wider culture). Sure, it got started in San Francisco in the time period you mention, and of course some people were far more deeply committed to the lifestyle and its ideology than others, but it is absurd to imply that there was a tiny cadre of “real” or “original” hippies and everyone else was just playing dress-up (although I do not deny that were also many for whom that was about all it was). After all, you yourself admit that being one of 99% of “unreal” hippies (just growing your hair long, if you were male) was plenty enough to put you at serious risk of abuse, hassle, and even physical harm, from both the official and unofficial guardians of orthodoxy.

Back in the 1960s and 1970s, I was a long haired hippie VW mechanic. I drove a 1957 VW bus that had a 1971 much improved engine. Anyway, the bus was painted dayglo yellow; you could see that thing for miles. At one point, I worked nights for a large VW dealership in the East Bay area. I lived in a town south of where I worked and I had to travel through three or four different municipalities before I got home. I lost track of the number of times I was stopped by the cops and told to step out of the vehicle. Out I would get with my neat little official VW mechanic uniform and my relatively short hair and you could see the cops faces fade from triumph to something like WTF? as they saw their surefire major drug bust evaporate before their very eyes. After a little chatter and gossip, they always let me go without ticketing me. Had I been a genuine long haired dirty hippie wearing jeans and a tee shirt, my bus would have been torn to the ground in a drug search and I would probably have been busted on suspicion every damn night. Them was the good old days, I tell ya.

njtt, take another look. My comments were a response to what Lumpy said. I can’t imagine you’d be arguing that hippies were like street bums.

My feelings about the hippie movement overall are mixed. There was a true societal change at that time and place, different even from the beats, and if you conflate the free speech movement of the early 60s with the anti-corporate movement of the later 60s you did have something that had some impact on the society.

Whatever that impact was paled besides the other impacts that rose more or less at the same time. The antiwar movement may have started with the hippies but soon grew separate. Rock music predated the hippies. So did youth culture and the corporate response to it. The environmental movement was mostly coincident with the hippies but had a very long gestation to have real impact. The intertwining of drugs and youth culture in the modern sense is a legacy of the hippies, but not a proud one, although it is certainly true that the hippie movement of 65-67 that I talk about hated the coming of harder drugs that made Height-Ashbury a hellhole almost overnight.

The big change that occurred at that time was the arrival of middle-class prosperity to a majority of America. Many, probably most if not all, of the above changes are reflections of that one change that matters more than anything else, more than almost anything else in our history. We now take the fact that the vast majority of the country are middle class as normal and project it back into history as something that always was that way. It wasn’t. It came into existence only after WWII and changed everything. We hate to admit how great a role class plays in American culture. The fact remains that the 60s and early 70s were the first signs of the coming of age of a generation born at a time when middle class became the norm (not the same thing as saying that everyone was middle class in the 50s, which wasn’t yet quite true). By pre-war standards we’re all hippies today. But it wasn’t hippies who made it so.

Oddly, I’ve been told personally of some of my female relatives being hassled a bit in the 1960’s for having hair that was too short, being called “boys”, and even “hippies” for having short hair, wearing jeans, etc. In rural areas, it wasn’t just long hair and hippie dress, it was looking different, period.

As rampant as homophobia and transphobia is in Society today, it was a brutal situation in the 1960’s/1970’s.

[Moderator note]

That’s not, of course, anything resembling what joebuck20 said. Let’s not pick fights for no reason.

General Questions Moderator

Women working at Disney during the time period had their backs felt as they went through the gates for work to make sure they were wearing bras.

I ceased shaving in 1965. My wife grew up (partly) in a small town in southern NJ. My hair was not especially long, nor was I usually in jeans. Nonetheless, when I walked down the main street of that town, the stares I got were beyond belief. I was afraid I would cause an accident because of the way people would hang their heads out of their car windows staring. No hassle from the cops, but the stares–and occasional catcalls–were beyond belief. By 1970, though, my beard no longer caused any stir.

It is still the case, AFAIK, that Disney will not employ anyone with facial fair. And notoriously, neither will the New York Yankees. I will not patronize either one.

I find these rules stupid, but to clarify a little, the Yankees allow some facial hair: mustaches are permitted, and so are sideburns (to what length I don’t know). Facial hair below the lip is not allowed, and neither is long hair.

Even right now, here in Simi Valley guys with long hair are at a definite disadvantage when it comes to finding a job.

My dorm room mate was an honor student (today a college professor in Pennsylvania). His final year he said “This is my last chance.” So he grew a beard and let his hair grow.
He was still the clean honor student, but we couldn’t get waited on at several restaurants.
At the truck stop diner you could guarentee that while we were in there “Okie From Muskogee” would be the jukebox hit over and over.

I’ve heard that hippie discrimination is one reason why the US is so irrationally hostile to bare feet.

That’s more a function of class prejudice, I think. Not many decades ago, shoes were luxuries which the desperately poor could not always afford. In fact, hookworm infestation from bare feet may be the original source of the entire “poor people are lazy” prejudice.

Less than 20 years ago, I was refused a job by EDS because I had a beard. And even today, being slightly different - in dress or thought or political view or whatever - from the ‘in group’ is still a cause for ostracism.

No. The “no bare feet” signs were prevalent in my home town (especially in restaurants) long before hippies. It may have been a class thing, or it may have been to prevent issues by having people step on something on the floor.