Thursday, March 24, 2005

Let's talk about sex

Having grown up in the 70s and 80s, it is difficult for me to fully comprehend the high levels of secrecy and fear surrounding sexual practice. So last night's viewing of the filmed biography of sex researcher Alfred Kinsey was a real eye-opener.

The scientist Kinsey described sex education in the 1930s as "morality disguised as fact" and embarked on a comprehensive statistical analysis of American sexual behaviour. The appearance of the report Sexual Behavior In The Human Male in 1948 transformed the way people regarded their sexual activities by revealing how widespread premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, oral sex, masturbation and even zoophilia were in American society. Its findings were so explosive that Kinsey quickly became a target of Hoover's anti-Communist witch-hunt.

The publication of Sexual Behavior In The Human Female a few years later, was even more explosive, focussing on such taboo subjects as female masturbation and the female orgasm. His research found that women were as sexual as men, and that a libidinous sex life was essential to a woman's marital bliss. He even found that women who had engaged in premarital sex were more likely to have orgasms in marriages than those who had not.

Although the decriminalisation of homosexuality in the States was a direct result of Kinsey's research, there are still archaic state laws today that outlaw oral sex, even within marriage: in Maryland, for example, they will lock you up for 10 years. In North Carolina: "If any man and woman not being married to each other, shall lewdly and lasciviously associate, bed, and cohabit together, they shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor." In Idaho, the penalty for adultery is up to a $1000 fine and three years in the state pen. Even "blue-state" Massachusetts will bang you up for three years if you commit adultery and five years if you sell a dildo.

Related links:
+ Famous Kinsey Report statistics
+ More Kinsey Report findings
+ Biography of Alfred Kinsey by PBS
+ Kinsey Institute
+ Legislating your sex life. A search of sex laws turns up some surprises.

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