So say the Civitas think-tank, in a report on a BBC 'documentary' which turns out to be a bit of a travesty of the truth.
"A programme broadcast on 5 October 2005 called 'Little Kinsey' manifested such a distortion of its source material that we can no longer depend upon the integrity of the BBC's factual programmes."
'Little Kinsey' was part of the 'Lost Decade' season, focusing on issues relevant to the period 1945-55. Its central argument was that the restrained attitudes towards sexual activity which would have been considered as typical of the era were hypocritical, that men and women were commonly adulterous, that family life was frequently unhappy, that many men used prostitutes and that homosexual activity was common. In fact, the archive, now housed at the University of Sussex, showed no such thing: it showed a society in which most people were still very conservative in their attitudes. Nor do official statistics back up the lurid picture painted by the BBC.
The Civitas press release is here, the full report (pdf file) here.
This is par for the liberal course - what I call the "Myth of the Myth of the Golden Age". The present must always be better than, or the same as, the past - so on crime, for example, we have the absurd claims over the last thirty years that crime hasn't risen - we're just suffering from 'moral panic' (see this post, which also links to other works of the report's author, the great Norman Dennis, sociologist of the respectable working class), or that we report crimes now that we'd have tolerated once.
Similarly with sexual conduct. Faced with the obvious outward evidence of changes in sexual morality over the last sixty years, the progressive has two (contradictory) options.
Option A - yes, things were different then. Marriages did last longer, children were brought up by both parents. But this came at a cost - the huge cost of domestic spousal and child abuse. The stability of society was paid for by the misery of milllions of individual women and children (the liberal is then faced with the interesting task of also claiming that 'domestic abuse' is increasing in today's world).
Option B - no, things weren't really different at all. Our forebears did just the things we did, only they were hypocritical and secretive about them. Usually due to the dreaded 'Victorian morality' - as if fidelity was discounted and bastardy tolerated in any other era of the last thousand-plus years (and the Restoration doesn't count - that was for the elite only).
With this programme (and the responses) we see option B in full effect.