Biography and Sexual Teachings of Alfred C. Kinsey Part 2

About the author of the famous Kinsey Reports on Sexual Behavior Alfred C. Kinsey, history and biography of the sex researcher.


ALFRED C. KINSEY (1894-1956), U.S.

When the results of the interviews were published in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948), they were headline news. W. B. Saunders, the book's publisher, had printed initially only 10,000 copies; they were soon sold out. A runaway best-seller, the book sold 200,000 copies in the first two months and remained on best-seller lists for more than a year.

The report was criticized for "coldness," for its shock value, for its skewed sample. It was true that the sample was not proportional to the general population; there were too few blacks and people from the lower socioeconomic levels, a concentration of people from the northeast, and a weighting toward people in their 30s. The report revealed a high incidence of homosexuality in the male population of the U.S., and the question arose, "If everybody does it, does that make it normal?"

The Reader's Digest asked, "Is the love of man and woman merely an animal function? Are spiritual ideals of mating, of fidelity and chastity no more than irrational and sentimental nonsense? Have our conventions and moralities--and what we've always held to be simple decency--been outmoded by findings of modern science?"

There were those who approved. "The Kinsey Report has done for sex what Columbus did for geography," said Morris Ernest and David Loth in American Sexual Behavior and the Kinsey Report.

In the middle of the McCarthy Era, in 1952, Representative B. Carroll Reece, a right-wing Republican, formed a committee whose purpose--on the surface--was to investigate tax-exempt foundations, but in fact was to harass the Kinsey group, which was funded by the Rockefeller Foundation. It succeeded in its undercover purpose; the foundation withdrew its financial support.

A year later, a bigger shock came from Kinsey and his associates--Sexual Behavior in the Human Female. Many who had been able to accept the male as a sexual being found it quite a bit harder to view the female that way.

Five national magazines featured articles on the sensational book on its day of publication; eight more followed in the next two weeks. Newsweek prudishly avoided using the words masturbation and orgasm in its article, but instead substituted terms like "onanism" and "sexual satisfaction." Harper's pointed out that the report knocked Freud off his pedestal: ". . .nowhere in [Kinsey's] research did he find that the Freudian progression from self-stimulation to homosexual stimulation to 'emotionally mature' heterosexual orgasm actually existed in the human being, male or female."

But Billy Graham said, "It is impossible to estimate the damage this book will do to the already deteriorating morals of America." And others complained that it never mentioned love and concentrated too much on orgasm and was weighted in favor of educated women and Jews.

Kinsey kept on working--frequently 18 hours a day--in the face of criticism and in the face of warnings from his doctor after several heart attacks to take it easier. He died at 62, literally of overwork. He had planned reports on sex offenders, on prostitution, on sex education. He was continuing to conduct research on what actually happens during a sex experience by making movies of live masturbation and intercourse. To the end, he remained an upright family man, who, as far as we know, did not experiment sexually himself. Whenever he was asked about his own sex life, he would answer, "I've contributed my history to the project, and I will protect it just as I will yours when you give it to me."

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