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10. SOCIAL LEVEL AND SEXUAL OUTLET

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

The sexual behavior of the human animal is the outcome of its morphologic and physiologic organization, of the conditioning which its experience has brought it, and of all the forces which exist in its living and nonliving environment. In terms of academic disciplines, there are biologic, psychologic, and sociologic factors involved; but all of these operate simultaneously, and the end product is a single, unified phenomenon which is not merely biologic, psychologic, or sociologic in nature. Nevertheless, the importance of each group of factors can never be ignored.

Without its physical body and its physiologic capacities, there would be no animal to act. The individual’s sexual behavior is, to a degree, predestined by its morphologic structure, its metabolic capacities, its hormones, and all of the other characters which it has inherited or which have been built into it by the physical environment in which it has developed. Two of the most important of these distinctively biologic forces, age and the age at onset of adolescence, have been examined in the earlier chapters of the present volume.

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1. SCOPE OF THE STUDY

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

The present volume constitutes the second progress report from the study of human sex behavior which we have had under way here at Indiana University for some fifteen years. It has been a fact-finding survey in which an attempt has been made to discover what people do sexually, what factors may account for their patterns of sexual behavior, how their sexual experiences have affected their lives, and what social significance there may be in each type of behavior.

Our first report was based upon 5300 white males whose case histories provided most of the data which were statistically analyzed in our volume, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male.1 The case histories of 5940 white females have similarly provided most of the statistical data in the present volume, but this volume also rests on a considerable body of material which has come from sources other than case histories (see Chapter 2).

Throughout the fifteen years involved in this research, it has had the support of Indiana University, and during the past twelve years it has been supported in part by grants from the National Research Council’s Committee for Research on Problems of Sex. This Committee has been responsible for the administration of funds provided by the Medical Division of the Rockefeller Foundation. The present project is incorporated as the Institute for Sex Research. The Institute is the legal entity which holds title to the case histories, the library, and the other materials accumulated in connection with the research, receives all royalties from its publications, incomes from private contributions and other sources, and is responsible for the planning and administration of the research program. The staff of the Institute has included persons trained in biology, clinical psychology, anthropology, law, statistics, various language fields, and still other specialties. Sixteen persons have served on the staff of the Institute during the preparation of the present volume, and each of these has had a specific part in the making of this report.

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7. PRE-MARITAL PETTING

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

Sexual activities may be solitary, involving only the single individual, or they may be socio-sexual, involving two or more individuals. Masturbation (Chapter 5) and nocturnal dreams (Chapter 6) are the two chief types of solitary sexual activity. To judge on the basis of our sample, these solitary activities may provide about a quarter of the orgasms which females have (Table 170, Figure 109). Heterosexual petting, heterosexual coitus, and homosexual relationships are the three main types of socio-sexual activity. They may provide about three-quarters of the orgasms which females in the American population have; and because of their social significance, the socio-sexual outlets are more important than their frequencies might indicate. The interplay of stimulation and response which characterizes a socio-sexual relationship may make it of maximum significance for each of the partners, and give rise to situations which affect more than the immediate participants in the relationship. They may have, in consequence, considerable social significance.

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9. AGE OF ADOLESCENCE AND SEXUAL OUTLET

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

For many centuries, men have wanted to know whether early involvement in sexual activity, or high frequencies of early activity, would reduce one’s capacities in later life. It has been suggested that the duration of one’s sexual life is definitely limited, and that ultimate high capacity and long-lived performance depend upon the conservation of one’s sexual powers in earlier years. The individual’s ability to function sexually has been conceived as a finite quantity which is fairly limited and ultimately exhaustible. One can use up those capacities by frequent activity in his youth, or preserve his wealth for the fulfillment of the later obligations and privileges of marriage.

Medical practitioners have sometimes ascribed infertility to wastage of sperm. Erectal impotence is supposed to be the penalty for excessive sexual exercise in youth (e.g., as in Vecki 1901, 1920; Liederman 1926, Efferz in Bilderlexikon 1930 (3):118, Robinson 1933, pp. 61, 135, 142, et al., Rice 1946). The discovery of the hormones has provided ammunition for these ideas, and millions of youths have been told that in order “to be prepared” one must conserve one’s virility by avoiding any wastage of vital fluids in boyhood (Boy Scout Manual, all editions, 1911-1945; W. S. Hall 1909; Dickerson 1930:109ff; 1933:15ff; U. S. Publ. Health Serv. 1937). Through all of this literature, an amazing assemblage of errors of anatomy, physiology, and endocrinology has been worked together for the good of the conservationist’s theories. Why the ejaculation of prostatic and vesicular secretions should involve a greater wastage of gonadal hormones than the outpouring of secretions from any of the other glands—than the spitting out, for instance, of salivary secretions—is something that biologists would need to have explained. The authors of various popular manuals, however, seem able to explain it “so youth may know,” and conserve their glandular secretions.

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4. VALIDITY OF THE DATA

Alfred C. Kinsey Indiana University Press ePub

Throughout research of the sort involved here, one needs to be continuously conscious, as already pointed out, that it is impossible to get more than approximations of the fact on the incidences and frequencies of various types of human sexual behavior. Memory cannot be wholly accepted as a source of information on what has actually happened in an individual’s history. There is both deliberate and unconscious cover-up, especially of the more taboo items; and in dealing with people of diverse mental levels and educational backgrounds, there are differences in their ability to comprehend and to answer questions with any precision in an interview.

Moreover, it is difficult for a person who has not kept a diary, and especially for one who is not accustomed to thinking in statistical terms, to know how to average events which occur as irregularly as sexual activities usually do. The mass of the population is not often called upon to estimate the frequencies with which they engage in any sort of activity, sexual or otherwise. This is most obvious in dealing with poorly educated persons, and with mentally low grade individuals. Most persons are inclined to remember frequencies for periods when the activities were regular, and to forget those periods in which there was material interference with activity. In marital intercourse, for instance, there are menstrual periods, periods of illness, periods of travel when spouses are apart, periods of preoccupation with special duties which, affecting either of the two partners, interfere with the regularity of intercourse for both of them. While other sources of outlet may fill in some of these gaps, there are situations in which no kind of sexual outlet is readily available; but these blank periods are not always taken into account by a subject who is estimating averages for a history.

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