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KINSEY

Who Was Alfred C. Kinsey?
Alfred Charles Kinsey, whose name would become synonymous with sex, was born in 1894, in the midst of a Victorian America that kept all talk, and often even thoughts, of the body and its desires under strict lock and key. His father, a stern Methodist and Sunday school teacher, as well as an engineer, taught Kinsey that a sexualized modern society would inexorably lead to the downfall of human morality. Though his father wished him to follow in his footsteps, Kinsey was from the start a free spirit and rebel.

Against his father's demands, he attended Bowdoin College to study biology and psychology, graduating magna cum laude in 1916, then received a Doctor of Science degree in taxonomy from Harvard. In August 1920, Kinsey came to Indiana University as an assistant professor of zoology, but few could have foreseen the sharp turn he would take when he began to study what he called "the human animal.” Kinsey made his mark early on with his research in taxonomy and evolution. During the first 20 years of his career, he became the world's foremost expert on the gall wasp, a non-stinging insect about the size of an ant. He amassed the world's largest collection of the insect, still held today by the American Museum of Natural History.

At Indiana, Kinsey met Clara Bracken McMillen, a bright chemistry student and fellow free spirit who shared his interest in insect evolution, and with whom he fell in love and quickly married. Then, in 1938, in response to student demands for realistic sex education, Kinsey began to teach a marriage course, which, despite the mild name, focused daringly on the sexual aspects of partnership. The classes became hugely popular and students began to ask Kinsey for sexual advice. Unable to answer many of their urgent questions and concerns, and still reeling from his own confusion about sex, Kinsey realized that very little was known about human sexual behavior.

Applying the same type of fervor that he had to his entomological research of gall wasps, Kinsey devoted himself to studying human sexuality, pioneering a field that was essentially absent in America. Kinsey assembled a research team to take "sex histories,” elaborate interviews that aimed to get to the root of what people were doing in their bedrooms. By the mid 1940s, he had opened the Institute for Sex Research (since renamed the Kinsey Institute) on Indiana University's campus and started compiling the data for a book, funded by the prestigious Rockefeller Foundation.

Kinsey began by collecting the sex histories of his students, then his colleagues, then as many people as he could convince to take part in the study in places ranging from gay bars to suburban neighborhoods, hoping to compile as diverse a sampling as possible. Through a process of investigation, Kinsey developed a unique questionnaire and interviewing technique that addressed more than 200 different types of sexual behavior. His researchers were trained to be friendly, easy-going and completely indifferent to what they heard, no matter how shocking or surprising. This allowed for the participants in the study to share their most intimate secrets. Once the interviews were completed, the compiled data was crunched on an early-era computer.

1948 saw the publication of Kinsey's Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which sold out its first printing of 25,000 in days. Within months, the book had sold over 200,000 copies, a seemingly impossible achievement for an academic tome. It was translated into eight languages, demonstrating the worldwide hunger for sexual information. The book's revelations were myriad. Kinsey's research suggested that between 67 and 98 percent of men had sex before they were married depending on social class, that 50 percent of husbands had extramarital affairs, that 92 percent of men admitted to masturbating, and that 37 percent of American<

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