To take place, and to then study and

To understand the work
of the biologist Alfred Kinsey, it is important to first understand the context
under which he lived and worked. In the 1940s there was little to no acceptance
of sex as a topic of conversation and investigation, even in the academic
circles in which Kinsey worked. His publication made in 1948 on the sexual
behavior of the human male, was one of the first to study sex from a
scientific, and therefore widely-accepted, point of view. To discuss the moral
or ethical issues that arise when studying 
his work it is essential to be aware of the context in which the actions
take place, and to then study and analyze just how fundamental and valid his
findings were, when putting them up against the behavioral norms of the present
day.

            When Kinsey begins to impart courses on sexology they are
only open to a select few; married students, teachers, and seniors. As much as
this was a cause of enervation for Kinsey, this restriction seemed logical
given the historical context. However, the very fact that there is a
restriction on sexual education brings up an interesting point; should there be
any type of restriction on sexual education? Seemingly simple to answer, I
believe that this question underlines an important point that society struggles
with, even today. If sexual education is basically more knowledge, any restriction
on it seems to be no more than restriction on more knowledge for the
individual. Age seems to play an important role in this discussion; some people
believe that sex should not be deemed a matter so controversial that it cannot
be discussed with any person, no matter how young. However, in the society that
we live in, it is practically still taboo to have a sex-related discussion with
someone of a younger age. According to John Bancroft, Kinsey is seen by many as
an architect behind the decline of family and sexual values.

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Personally, I’ve
pondered this issue throughout my whole life because of my upbringing in a
relatively “open” household. I have always believed that I am able to
participate in sexual discussion in an open way with mostly anyone that is
willing to discuss it on the same terms, however, even though I feel at ease
discussing it with, for example, my parents, I must admit that I feel
uncomfortable talking about sex when there’s a child in the room. This
reluctance to talk about the topic with child is seemingly normal in the
society that we live in, but I often wonder how much a person will have to
learn on their own because adults are unwilling to instruct them in sexual
education, and how counterproductive this could eventually end up being.

            One of the most thought-provoking issues or methods that
Kinsey used was the “kinsey Scale”, a zero to six scale that he devised in
order to determine a person’s sexual preference, zero being exclusively
heterosexual and six being exclusively homosexual. At the time, and even today,
this scale brings up the seldom talked about fact that a person is hardly ever
exclusive in their preference to one gender. With this I believe that it is
relatively easy to agree upon, what I consider more difficult to reach a
consensus on is on the debate of just how accurate a scale on sexual preference
can actually be. Put simply, sexual attraction and preference are merely
feelings felt towards another person, male or female. This is why I find it so
hard to agree with this scale, because I believe that feelings towards another
person cannot be measured. The fact that there is a “3” in the scale
means that a person feels the exact same attraction to both men and women, and
with this too I disagree. It is my opinion that you cannot feel the exact same
amount of attraction towards one person that you feel towards another.
Different relationships offer different types of satisfaction and
gratification; the very fact that the Kinsey scale has a mid-point argues
against this.  Therefore, if it is not
possible to be equally heterosexual and homosexual doesn’t this disprove the
Kinsey scale in its entirety? My conclusion on the Kinsey Scale is that it is
important, but not entirely correct. It is important for there to be a concrete
scientific method that speaks against the notion of exclusive sexual
preference. The dialogue built around the Kinsey Scale is also, I think, an
important dialogue to have. Nevertheless, I believe that there is no such thing
as an equal sexual preference towards both genders simultaneously.

            The final issue that I wish to touch upon, and perhaps
the issue upon which greater part of the movie based on Kinsey’s life that came
out in 2004, revolves around, is the possibility (or lack thereof) to study sex
from a strictly scientific point of view. The movie makes an effort to humanize
Kinsey’s struggle, both sexually and scientifically, nevertheless, Kinsey is a
scientist and his surveys are carried out with the strongest emphasis on how
humans react based on their status as “mammals”. I consider this a
topic too complex to be  carried out on
these terms, however, it is the incredible complexity of the topic itself that
would have made it impossible for his work to have been accomplished had
feelings and emotions been strongly taken into account. Even the movie takes
this particular “weakness” of Kinsey’s findings into account, and the
impossibility of disregarding the link between the emotional and scientific
when studying sex is brought up often. The human sciences are particular in
that way; to appropriately study and understand them, it is necessary to
understand the complexities behind human behavior. In the natural sciences, for
example, this must not be taken into account; a mammal will have sex with
another mammal because it is necessary for the procreation of their species.
However, even though humans are mammals there are various reasons, beside
simple procreation, for which they will have sex, all reliant on their societal
norms and individual behavioral traits. The point is that humans are individual
on the most basic of levels, and to understand their behavior, it is necessary
to comprehend the vast difference between one and the other: between the
individual and the community.

            In conclusion, it is my opinion that Kinsey’s findings
were both interesting and of the utmost importance, if only for the fact that
he brought matters which were seldom discussed into the public eye, and
therefore into common conversation. That some of his findings, or some of his
methods to extract information, were marked with weaknesses can only be
attributed to the fact that he was working within the realms of an incredibly
close minded society, and that in essence he was a biologist, that went from
studying the behavior of gall wasps, to trying to understand the complexities
of human behavior.

 

 

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