History of human sexuality have always been associated with the imposition of social taboo, moral biases and prejudices that prevent people to understand their biology, physiology, and psychology.
Anti-propaganda of sexual relations, however, did not contribute positively to the discovery of some questions about human behavior patterns and about the main principles of biological and psychological organization of people. Despite that ignorance, many researchers and biologist made attempts to explore this field to work out specific theories, approaches and concepts.
Among them was Alfred Kinsey, an American biologist who studies sex, and sexual relations and who is know for his Reports about sexual behavior in males and females as well as the Kinsley scale. The movie Kinsley directed by Bill Condom has perceived a mixed appraisal among the viewers and critics, but still it provoked a lot of discussion concerning the concept of sexuality and sexual relations and their connection to moral and ethics.
In Rolling Stones Magazines, Peter Traver stated while reviewing the movie, “Kinsey wanted to snap the public out of sexual ignorance”. Apparently, this is very true about the professor’s attempts to initiate people into the origins of their desires, behaviors and psychology. He also wanted to separate moral biases and social taboos from scientific studies of sex that are more connected with the physiological peculiarities.
Alfred Kinsey studies date back to the 40s of the past century, the time when sexuality was ignored and all themes connected with this subject were considered as moral and social taboo. Existing restrictions were predetermined by stereotypes about sexual behaviors and about human relations that limit people’s access to scientific knowledge about some important aspect of human nature. According to Kinsley, this ignorance is harmful for people’s health because gender and sex considerations should be part of biological studies.
To prove this idea McLaren have conducted a number researcher and have found out evidence that ignorance is the source of serious sexual problems (1999, p. 45). Hence, twentieth century history confirms that many people’s stereotypes and moral judgments were based on a public culture of secrecy about sexuality and sex. This time was marked by high rates of sexual ignorance before marriage. Moreover, married couples were also much concerned with sexual problems (Szreter and Fisher, 2010, p. 110).
According to Szreter and Fisher (2010), “[m]any women subsequently recognized that this degree of sexual ignorance left them anxious or fearful upon marriage, and many explicitly or implicitly criticized their parents’ evasion and silence.” The same is observed in the movie when a married couple decides to resort to Kinsey’s help. In this respect, Kinsey Reports and theories shocked the ignorant society of that time creating even more discontent and restriction.
Sexual ignorance existed in that time made society believe that professor’s attempts to initiate people into the essence and origins of their sexual desires and behavior was a rigid deviation from moral judgments and conservative outlook on sexual relations. However, Kinsey’s interest is purely scientific; he wanted to understand the problems and disapprove the existing theories and outlooks on people’s behavioral patterns.
His particular concerns were connected with psychological underpinning of sexuality and sexual orientations leading to formation of sexual prejudices. According to Herek (2001), sexual prejudice is closely correlated with negative attitudes created toward a person of homosexual or bisexual orientation.
In this regard, sexual prejudice is the most appropriate term for explaining homophobia because it does not renders assumptions about the motives that make people treat homosexuality negatively (Herek, 2000, p. 20). Similarly, Byrne also marks the period of sexual ignorance as well as shocking reaction of society to the expansion of sexual knowledge. In fact, this field of social psychological is toughly related to the links between emotional state of people and their attitude to sex and sexuality.
Byrne (1976) has proved that many researcher devoted to social psychology of personality are directly relevant the people’s understanding of sexuality and has presented his own social psychological approaches to this research problem. Therefore, Kinsey’s findings and research were approved both socially and scientifically.
Certainly, previously fixed traditions and conservative outlooks made people to connect morality and sexuality where one excludes another. In this respect, Kinsey’s research works and experiments shocked the society of that time that was under the influence of anti-sex propaganda.
People were not ready to accept the sensational discoveries introduced by Kinsey, particularly the ones that were connected with sexual orientation and sex education. Therefore, the so-called normative standards prevent people from expressing their actual concerns, desires, and feelings.
The idea about the “common sense sex” put forward by Adams and Pigg (2005) raises many controversial issues concerning what is normal about sexual relations and sexual behavior. Taking into account the Kinsey Reports and the studies of morality and stereotypes, history reveals ideological and social rejections to human sexuality for the purpose of creating an ideal picture of well-planned and well-organized society.
Rejections were also expressed to fluidity of sexual orientations that only contributed to the increase in sexual prejudice. According to Hegarty (2010), sexual prejudice and false stereotypes can be significantly by expanding the knowledge on sexual orientation, particularly about its “normative” status. Hegarty’s assumptions and conceptions correlate with Kinsey’s position about the necessity of sex education.
Moreover, the professor believed that ignorance could be even more harmful, both morally and psychologically, to individuals than shocking knowledge about psychological underpinnings of sexual behavior. In addition, ignorance and fear to learn more about sex and sexuality, and accept the sexuality as a part of individuality can create even more serious biases and prejudices.
In conclusion, the movie can be regarded more than just an attempt to unveil the history of sexual revolution as well as the problem of sexual ignorance in the 40s of the past century.
Professor’s research on sexual behavior and its psychological underpinning was, in fact, based in its attempt to make people recognize their sexual desires and reveals themselves from moral and social stereotypes and prejudices. Hence, history of sexuality proves that people always limited access to knowledge about sex and behavioral patterns and this restriction caused even more interest in this subject.
Second, people’s ignorance of human sexuality led to problems of sexual character because rejecting their nature, people had even more problems connected with personal life. Finally, due to the fact that social stereotypes dictated the ideas that morality and sexuality are two notions that exclude one another. In fact, these notions cannot be compared or contrasted because they do not belong to one category. Kinsey proved that people behavior and attitude to sex and sexuality should not be dictated by social biases and stereotypes.
Adams, V., and Pigg, S. L. (2005). Sex in development: Science, Sexuality, and Morality in Global Perspective.
Byrne, D. Social Psychology and the Study of Sexual Behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. 3(1), pp. 3-30.
Condon, B. (Director) (2004). Kinsey. [motion picture]. USA. Searchnight Pictures.
Hegarty, P. A stone in the soup? Changes in sexual prejudice and essentialist beliefs among British students in a class on LGBT psychology. Psychology & Sexuality. 1(1), pp. 3-20.
Herek, G. (2000). The Psychology of Sexual Prejudice. Current Directions in Psychological Science. 9(1), pp. 19-22.
McLaren, A. (1999). Twentieth-century sexuality: a history. US: Wiley-Blackwell.
Szreter, S., and Fisher K. (2010). Sex Before the Sexual Revolution: Intimate Life in England 1918-1963. US: Cambridge University Press.
Travers, P. (2004, November). Kinsey. The Rolling Stone. Retrieved from http://www.rollingstone.com/movies/reviews/kinsey-20041103