Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.

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Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.

Let’s today pay tribute to the people who through their work or art have changed our views on sex and sexuality. Following is a list of iconic figures who have innovated, reinvented and challenged everything we’ve known about sex, gender and sexuality in the last century:

Sigmund Freud

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Sigmund Freud

While many of his theories have fallen out of favour. Freud’s was one of the first iconic figures in deconstructing sex and sexuality. Freud, the father of psychoanalysis, claimed that due to repression as toddlers, humans carried latent sexual desires. The most unforgettable theory he left behind was that of the Oedipus complex. In which males secretly want to kill their father out of envy and sleep with their mother.

Simone de Beauvoir

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Simone de Beauvoir

A French writer, intellectual, existentialist philosopher, political activist, feminist and social theorist. Beauvoir had a significant influence on both feminist existentialism and feminist theory. She wrote The Second Sex, a detailed analysis of women’s oppression and a foundational tract of contemporary feminism. Simone de Beauvoir had an open relationship with Jean-Paul Sartre.

Bettie Page

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Bettie Page

 Page was an American model who became famous in the 1950’s for her pin-up photos. Black bangs, seamed stockings and snub-nosed 6” stilettos are Bettie Page signatures. She was an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality. She became synonymous to alternative lifestyle: fetish and bondage.

Dr. Ruth

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Dr. Ruth

Dr. Ruth was the first woman to publicly address the issue of female pleasure – from a medical perspective. She became a resource for women struggling with very common and very real problems in the bedroom.

Linda Lovelace

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Linda Lovelace

What did we learn from 1972′s Deep Throat? For one, we discovered that Linda Lovelace, who later claimed to have been coerced into the scene, had an impressive BJ skill set. We also saw that America’s cinematic palette was ready for displays of graphic sex acts as a part of their standard programming. Lovelace’s performance, which at the time she said to have thoroughly enjoyed, laid the groundwork for a more permissive film and television landscape.

E.L. James

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- E.L. James

Ah, 50 Shades of Grey. The trilogy of erotica novels jumped to numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the bestseller list. The movie adaptation of the paperback that flew off the shelves is being treated with kid gloves. While romance novels have included elements of BDSM for years and the E.L. James version is relatively tame. Its 2011 publication marked the first time the topic was acknowledged by the female readership as, well, pretty exciting.

Helen Gurley Brown

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Helen Gurley Brown

Helen Gurley Brown put a whole different spin on women leaning into their careers in the 1960s. Not one to keep her personal life under wraps. Brown encouraged women to do whatever they had to to get ahead in the office. Including embracing the “free love” movement with open legs – er, arms. It worked, she went on to be the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine and built its empire into a source of sex and grooming tips for hot chicks who doubled as working women.

Margaret Sanger

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Margaret-Sange.jpg

In an age where contraceptives were not only hard to come by but actually illegal, activist (and mother) Margaret Sanger dedicated her life to the development of the birth control pill. She founded the American Birth Control League, which is now better known as Planned Parenthood.

Alfred Kinsey

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Alfred Kinsey

This list would not be complete without the mention of Alfred Kinsey. Alfred founded the Institute for Research in Sex and Reproduction and dedicated his life to the study of sexual behaviours in males and females.

Dr. Richard Sprott

Iconic figures who challenged our views on sex.- Dr. Richard Sprott

Richard Sprott, the executive director for Caras Research and co-author of the book “ Sexual Outsiders”. Is a main figure in the sexual field, specializing in alternative sexuality. Dr. Richard Sprott is a developmental psychologist and research scientist, and as a kinkster decided to do some studies on sexual identity development. His aim is to give voice to a community that has been without a voice for so long.

These are a few people who have been and some are still making a noticeable impact on our sexual freedom.


Tina is a DailyStar senior writer. She graduated from Edith Cowan University. Writing has always been something she enjoyed. Her positive outlook colours every aspect of her life. Her motto -Life’s too short so get living.

When she’s not busy writing, Tina is exploring the city she adores, running in her local Park every day, drinking an absurd amount of coffee, taking care of an adorable pup, kids and traveling.

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