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3. SOURCES OF DATA

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

The specific sources of the reported, recorded, and observed data utilized in making this volume are described in the present chapter. The use that we have made of the previously published studies on human sexual behavior is also described. Since the data reported in our series of case histories constitute an important part of this volume, the nature of those data is described in some detail in this chapter, and critical tests of the reliability and validity of the case history data are also presented here.

All of the case histories in this study have been obtained through personal interviews conducted by our staff and chiefly by four of us during the period covered by this project. We have elected to use personal interviews rather than questionnaires because we believe that face-to-face interviews are better adapted for obtaining such personal and confidential material as may appear in a sex history.1

Establishing Rapport. We believe that much of the quality of the data presented in the present volume is a product of the rapport which we have been able to establish in these personal interviews. Most of the subjects of this study—whatever their original intentions in regard to distorting or withholding information, and whatever their original embarrassment at the idea of contributing a history—have helped make the interviews fact-finding sessions in which the interviewer and the subject have found equal satisfaction in exploring the accumulated record as far as memory would allow. Persons with many different sorts of backgrounds have cooperated in this fashion. Females have agreed to serve as subjects and, on the whole, have contributed as readily and as honestly (p. 73, Tables 3–8) as the males who were the subjects of our previous volume. Apart from rephrasing a few questions to allow for the anatomic and physiologic differences between the sexes, we have covered the same subject matter and utilized essentially the same methodology in interviewing females and males.2

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16. PSYCHOLOGIC FACTORS IN SEXUAL RESPONSE

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

It might properly be contended that all functions of living matter are physiologic, but it is customary to distinguish certain aspects of animal behavior as psychologic functions. The distinctions can never be sharp, and they probably do not represent reality; but they are convenient distinctions to make, particularly in regard to human behavior.

Usually physiologists have been concerned with the functions of particular parts of the plant or animal, and with an attempt to discover the physical and chemical bases of such functions. Psychologists, on the other hand, have more often been concerned with the functioning—the behavior—of the organism as a whole. Many of the psychologic studies record—and properly record—the behavior of an animal without being able to explain the bases of that behavior in the known physics or chemistry of living matter. When psychologists try to explain behavior in physico-chemical terms, it is difficult to say, and quite pointless to try to say, whether such studies lie in the field of psychology or physiology.

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14. ANATOMY OF SEXUAL RESPONSE AND ORGASM

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

In our previous volume (1948) we presented data on the incidences and frequencies of the various types of sexual activity in the human male, and attempted to analyze some of the biologic and social factors which affect those activities. In the previous section of the present volume we have presented similar data for the female. Now it is possible to make comparisons of the sexual activities of the human female and male, and in such comparisons it should be possible to discover some of the basic factors which account for the similarities and the differences between the two sexes.

In view of the historical backgrounds of our Judeo-Christian culture, comparisons of females and males must be undertaken with some trepidation and a considerable sense of responsibility. It should not be forgotten that the social status of women under early Jewish and Christian rule was not much above that which women still hold in the older Asiatic cultures. Their current position in our present-day social organization has been acquired only after some centuries of conflict between the sexes. There were early bans on the female’s participation in most of the activities of the social organization; in later centuries there were chivalrous and galante attempts to place her in a unique position in the cultural life of the day. There are still male antagonisms to her emergence as a co-equal in the home and in social affairs. There are romantic rationalizations which obscure the real problems that are involved and, down to the present day, there is more heat than logic in most attempts to show that women are the equal of men, or that the human female differs in some fundamental way from the human male. It would be surprising if we, the present investigators, should have wholly freed ourselves from such century-old biases and succeeded in comparing the two sexes with the complete objectivity which is possible in areas of science that are of less direct import in human affairs. We have, however, tried to accumulate the data with a minimum of pre-judgment, and attempted to make interpretations which would fit those data.

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11. HOMOSEXUAL RESPONSES AND CONTACTS

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

The classification of sexual behavior as masturbatory, heterosexual, or homosexual is based upon the nature of the stimulus which initiates the behavior. The present chapter, dealing with the homosexual behavior of the females in our sample, records the sexual responses which they had made to other females, and the overt contacts which they had had with other females in the course of their sexual histories.

The term homosexual comes from the Greek prefix homo, referring to the sameness of the individuals involved, and not from the Latin word homo which means man. It contrasts with the term heterosexual which refers to responses or contacts between individuals of different (hetero) sexes.

While the term homosexual is quite regularly applied by clinicians and by the public at large to relations between males, there is a growing tendency to refer to sexual relationships between females as lesbian or sapphic. Both of these terms reflect the homosexual history of Sappho who lived on the Isle of Lesbos in ancient Greece. While there is some advantage in having a terminology which distinguishes homosexual relations which occur between females from those which occur between males, there is a distinct disadvantage in using a terminology which suggests that there are fundamental differences between the homosexual responses and activities of females and of males.

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18. HORMONAL FACTORS IN SEXUAL RESPONSE

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

We have seen that sexual responses depend upon a basic anatomy which is essentially the same in the female and the male (Chapter 14), and involve physiologic processes which, again, are essentially the same in the two sexes (Chapter 15). Throughout the present volume we have found, however, that there are differences in the sexual behavior of females and males, and we have presented data which suggest that some of these may depend upon differences in capacities to be affected by psychosexual stimuli.

Some of the most striking differences between the sexual patterns of the human female and male are not, however, explainable by any of the data which we have yet presented. Throughout the present volume we have emphasized, for instance, the later development of sexual responsiveness in the female and its earlier development in the male. We have pointed out that the male’s capacity to be stimulated sexually shows a marked increase with the approach of adolescence, and that the incidences of responding males, and the frequencies of response to the point of orgasm, reach their peak within three or four years after the onset of adolescence (Figure 143). On the other hand, we have pointed out that the maximum incidences of sexually responding females are not approached until some time in the late twenties and in the thirties (Figures 99, 150), although some individuals become fully responsive at an earlier age.

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