Were hippies in the 1960s really discriminated against?

I’ve come to understand the kind of reaction that people had to long hair with the advent of wearing pants belted around the rear (with six inches of tighty-whities showing) and the crotch hanging down to the knees. There’s something about that look that makes me itch to smack the guy wearing it. Born in 1956, I grew up with long hair becoming common, so I liked it, but I can see how something like that might have provoked the kind of reaction I have to the knee-crotch look. Other more contemporary fashions, like excessive piercing or lots of tattoos, I find a bit off-putting but don’t inspire the primal “Kill!” urge that those pants do.

I suppose its better than the front, but yiich!

I had no personal experience, being too chicken-shit at the time, but I remember a co-worker coming back from a lunch run fuming about the long-haired hippie who’d been in line in front of him. “I just wanted yank on his hair and shout, ‘Get a haircut!’” he said. This was 1969 in Pennsylvania.

My dad was quite the radical in his late teens early 20’s up here in Canada, he told me once back in '67, my dad was from Lethbridge, and in Calgary, he was threatened and abused verbally for hair that was only slightly long (think more beatles long rather than hair long). Lethbridge was safer than Calgary for him because he grew up there, but he still did not have an easy time.

Among his friends from university, we draft dodgers, including a Korean war vet with very long red hair and a big beard, but most of his male friends had only slightly long hair, but none of them wore the slim ties, and dress shirts, and none of the women had the updos, and short curly hair dos of the more conservative people. Looking at his university yearbook, my dad and his friends stood out, even in 1971 and 1972 - and they still encounter prejudice then. During the FLQ crisis, the U of L student paper had published the FLQ manifesto, and my dad & his friends who ran the paper, were arrested - and because they were stinking hippies, they were given quite a hard time.

They were seen as radicals here, despite the fact they were not as radical looking to our modern eyes as the hippy stereotype. At that time, they were different, very different from the status quo, they were a minority, and they were hoping they could change the world.

This scared people, and when people are scared of the different - of course they’d heap abuse upon those people.

Although my dad ended up a teacher, and later a computer programmer, and dressed closer to the mainstream in later years he kept many of the ideals & kept the goatee teaching in the 70’s which, if it wasn’t that he was an art & shop teacher may have caused him trouble. He still had a beard, and still has the same principles, and when I was a teen involved in punk, and encountered much of the same verbal abuse, he never had any prejudice against my personal style and ideals.

If he went though even half of what I went though as a punk kid in the mid to late 1980’s, it was not just discrimination - it was abuse. I frequently had to run from thugs who wanted to beat me up for looking like a freak. I had cops stop me for no reason, and call me a freak, I was called names on a daily basis by strangers in passing cars (who although I had very short hair would repeat the old anti-hippy statement - “get a haircut”), there were places who didn’t serve our kind, including a Dairy Queen - looking different can be difficult, and dangerous.

Heh they are STILL discriminated against.

Last year at a Rainbow Gathering police opened fire with pepper spray rounds in paintball guns in an area called ‘Kid Village’. Which is named because that’s where you know, they keep the children.

A friend of mine who lives in Santa Fe who is an old school hippy said that ‘Hippy’ was a term invented by the media, much like ‘Electronica’ which has caught on to describe electronic music. It was just a catch-all term, like Hipster is today. He said that they only started using the term because there was no use in fighting it, but that they didn’t originally consider themselves to be hippies.

No, the OED states the term derives from “hipster.” Interestingly, the first cite is from 1953.

Note the second quote is from The Village Voice, which, though media, was very much a countercultural newspaper. Basically, the Voice used terms that the hip would have used.

Here’s the Wikipedia entry on the etymology of the word “hippie”:


Note that according to this entry, it originated among the jazz culture (and later moved into Beat culture), and it was apparently a little bit of an insult among them. It derived from the word “hipster,” and the implication was that a hippie was someone that wasn’t quite a hipster.

Hell, my last place of employment would give the employees shit about it all the time. It was run by a small-minded man who was a salesman for IBM back in the glory days.

Boss: When I worked it IBM it was their way or the highway!
Me: Is that how it is here?

(that sound you just heard was a pindrop)

Fuck, that was funny.


P.S. That was IBM, not a pissant little company that may or may not make it every single pay period.

Haven’t we established about one million times that anything you’ve heard from a friend is wrong? :slight_smile:

An English friend of ours visiting us in Philadelphia in the late 60’s had a pretty hippy look, and one evening the Philadelphia police detained him, beat him quite badly, took him to another part of town, and dumped him in the street. He had not done anything, other than looking like a hippy. He recovered but left the US quickly and would never return.

In the 1960s, “hippie” was considered an all-purpose insult in Thailand regardless of length of hair. An American who did restaurant reviws at the time, Bernard Trink, who was a Korean war veteran and decidedly about as un-hippie-looking as you could get, thought the food in a new restaurant opened by a high-society lady truly sucked and said so in his newspaper column. He likes to tell (he’s still around) of her confronting him in a sputtering rage: “You … you … HIPPIE!” The worst of all possible insults she could think of. Unfortunately for him, her being high society, she had influential friends who made sure he never wrote another restaurant review.

Because I had the usual “Local School Marm” wardrobe, I didn’t face a lot of discrimination except when my first husband was with me. He was definitely part of the 1%. He also had the look with the long hair and appropriate clothes such as knee-high laced suede boots. But he had something else that worked against him. He was not the most attractive man. He was incredibly smart and kind, but he was not handsome.

When he accompanied me, I had problems that I have never had before. People refused to wait on me in a jewelry store. We weren’t seated once in a restaurant. A druggist refused to fill a prescription for a painkiller from my dentist (who lived in the same neighborhood). In fact, the druggist became angry with me that I would even ask him to fill it. I was flabbergasted. That had never happened to me before. We called about an apartment for rent that was nearby, but when we went to look at it, it was “already rented.”

I also remember that when he was a teenager, McDonald’s made him cut his hair to remain employed. He cut it himself. It looked like hell, but he still had his job.

The prejudice against long hair on men was silly and sexist. After all, it had only been in the last 150 years or so that men’s hair has been so short.

True. There is an all-pervasive and ridiculously long-lasting belief in the U.S. that the 50s were the norm that everything is measured against, usually to fail.

My belief is that the 50s were the weirdest decade of the century, a temporary blip of prosperity and world dominance because of WWII. The U.S. was nothing like the 50s earlier and the world was already changing drastically by 1959 (everything from small foreign cars to civil rights demonstrations). People desperately wanted to cling to that romantic notion of “50s:good” because to many it really was after the previous two decades. They hated anybody who tried to upset that. It’s much easier to see that in retrospect than to be a teen in the 60s.

It’s the people who still point to the 50s as the golden age that puzzle me. We do have enough hindsight to see the reality under the facade and I’d argue that the vast majority of changes made in the past 50 years were for the better. Most Americans just don’t care about issues that seemed urgent enough to hurt others for in the 50s and 60s and that’s amazing progress.

The thing is after the Great Depression of the 1930s and the World War of the 1940s, people had had enough excitement. Blandness was a refreshing change.

By 1977, the South had grown accustomed to long hair. :wink:

You said a mouthful. People coming out of bad times tend to associate the good with the bad, and want no part of that era’s style, entertainment, social mores, etc. “Back to normal” never means back to before.

You didn’t have to be anywhere near a hippie to feel discrimination in the '60s. In 1964, a high school boy in Connecticut was suspended for wearing bangs.

great to be a hippy kid in high school in 1968, one of4 in our rural area
go to get gas , yes mam ,they say, hell my hair touched the top ofmy ears andmy collar, made me want it longer
viet nam vets started coming home the ones who saw way too much action
good thing I learned a lot from them,

we were visiting a friend who moved to Peoria il
in 1968, went into a restaurant late night waffle house open all the time sort of thing
first time in my life, I experienced not being served? me and my buddy, kept saying get to you in a minute , people would come and go, really got me how much people sucked, for no real reason,

Can’t resist posting THIS.

You know who lived in Haight-Ashbury around 1965-7 or so? These guys, that’s who!

[spoiler]For you young 'uns here on this Board who didn’t know those times . . .

Jerry Garcia and Phil Lesh of The Grateful Dead[/spoiler]

I don’t know how many “hippies” there were actually. I never saw the book that set out the rules you had to obey to be a “hippie”. I think a more useful term instead of “hippies” would be “Long Hair”. And we got hassled for it. At home, in school, at restaurants, in public. And we were against the War. And we preferred grass over beer.

As for “Easy Rider”, I think:

the casual shotgunning of Fonda and Hopper’s characters was a lot of an exaggeration, but not outside the realm of possibility. The rest of the harassment they got wasn’t that far off. Though to be fair, crashing that town parade with their motorcycles was pure assdome on their part.