‘Oh! Dr. Kinsey!’

Today marks the 60th anniversary of “K Day” – the day the media were allowed to report on the female version of the sensational Kinsey Reports, the book “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.”

OhNoDrKinseyThe more than 830 pages and $8 price tag didn’t stop it from being a bestseller, and every bit as controversial as the male volume published five years earlier. WFIU/WTIU News Bureau Chief Sara Wittmeyer aired this colorful report on the “Report”.

“There were people who really welcomed it and were so glad that we had this research on women that had never been done before. And there were people who could talk about it and give us knowledge and background,”  says Jennifer Bass, communication director for The Kinsey Institute at Indiana University Bloomington. “And then there were people who were incensed and insulted and upset that the university was doing research on sex.”

Bass and Wittmeyer note the Kinsey Reports came out in a very different time – when Lucy and Ricky Ricardo on “I Love Lucy” were sleeping in separate beds. Now, sexual portrayals on TV can be jarringly graphic, such as some of the prison sex scenes in “Orange is the New Black.”

Bass says (in the WFIU/WTIU report) there’s still a kind of anxiety around sexuality. There’s a lot of information available, but people don’t know how to filter it or what to trust.

“How do I fit in, am I normal? Is there something the matter with me? And maybe now, is there something the matter with me that I’m not having as much fun as everyone else.”

This Kinsey Institute video takes viewers back to the day, with colorful magazine covers, cartoons and other portrayals in the media. Select findings from the Kinsey Reports are available on this page, which includes insights from contemporary sex researchers on the impact of the reports. Below are just a couple.

“The ‘Kinsey Reports’ were in their own way akin to the discovery of the ‘New World’ several centuries earlier. … This pioneering undertaking helped to peel back many of the layers of obfuscation, denial and outright mistruths that had distorted or completely obscured humankind’s understanding of one of our fundamental features. Though many shadows still remain in the domain of sexuality, it was Kinsey’s work that first cast the light of modern science into the darkest of its corners for not just academics but the public as well.”

— June M. Reinisch, former director, The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction

“Kinsey’s work highlighted how frequently homosexual attraction occurs in heterosexuals: almost half of men and a fifth of women in his samples had ‘reacted to’ a member of the same gender. I find it remarkable how casually people my age accept the fluidity of sexual orientation (e.g., being ‘bicurious’) when just a few generations ago, sexual orientation was considered ironclad and absolute.’

— Tierney Lorenz, postdoctoral fellow, Common Themes of Reproductive Diversity, Kinsey Institute, and Center for the Integrative Study of Animal Behavior, Indiana University

Back to the future — Researchers with The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction collaborated with colleagues at the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the IU School of Public Health-Bloomington to conduct the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, which examined the sexual behavior of 14 to 94-year-olds in the U.S. Researchers with both institutions and in other academic departments continue to examine important questions about human sexuality, with some of the findings and projects appearing in this blog. Kinsey Confidential also provides a wide range of sexual health information through blogs, podcasts and other news.

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