What's the big deal about Kinsey? I mean, it's
like they're saying he "discovered" sex. Isn't that
like saying Lawrence of Arabia discovered sand?
Oh Come Now
I never met Alfred Kinsey, but I've long admired
his efforts which began to bring sex out of the closet
for the ridiculously repressed America of the 1940s and '50s.
Before the good doctor's work, society said
women weren't supposed to have orgasms, much less enjoy them.
Hell, it was taboo for anybody to have any kind of orgasm
other than within a legal marriage between a man and woman.
No masturbation, no living in sin. No nothing other than husband
and wife via man-on-top-get-it-over-with-quick. Anything else
was often actually criminalized! And don't EVEN think about
That kind of dogma, of course, is like saying
prohibition keeps people away from liquor.
But Kinsey, a mild-mannered college entomology
professor, put people of all stripes at ease and got them talking
about their sexuality through extensive interviews. Kinsey and
his staff came up with questions for every conceivable sexual
experience, asking things in a way that made subjects feel as
though any behavior was expected and accepted from the
"unusual" to (gasp!) sex removed from love.
And talk they did, about the enormity of their
collective sexual experience and activity: rich, poor, black,
white and everything in between 20,000 subjects in all!
The study began to quantify the fact that human sexual identity
is endlessly complicated.
"My writing will speak with the combined
wisdom of all of us," Kinsey told respondents as he and
his staff crisscrossed the country in search of the delicious
The first book came out in the late 1940s and
quickly sold 200,000 copies. And although his work predictably
came under much scrutiny, it served to let the sexual genie
out of the bottle. Americans (prudes included) began talking
about the book, the study, the doctor and, thus, about sex.
Ironically, Kinsey died in the late '50s
before the sexual revolution of the '60s that essentially validated
his work. But the essence of Kinsey's work is with us
to this day: Sex is neither good nor bad, moral nor immoral.
It simply is.
Before Kinsey, Americans weren't talking about
sex. But they were certainly thinking about it! That, at least
in part, is what he discovered.
Still, the realization that the world is a
better place when it doesn't make anyone feel shame for their
sexual proclivities is not the same as such obvious logic actually
being put into practice.
Sadly, it looks as though that kind of would-be
elementary enlightenment might take a few more centuries.
Do you think steroids are that big of a problem
in big-league baseball? Do you think testing will stop it? Do
you believe Jose Canseco?
Yes, no and maybe.
Dear Dr. Jones,
You flaming liberals are all alike. Plenty of countries
and experts thought Sadam had weapons of mass destruction but
you just don't want to admit that Bush was in the right.