1948 January 5

Kinsey Report on Male Sexual Behavior Published


Alfred Kinsey and his team published their first path-breaking report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, on this day. The report generated a national controversy as the first scientific study of sexuality, sweeping away long-standing cultural taboos against frank discussion of the topic. Consistent with those taboos, The New York Times did not report the publication of the book, did not review it, and published no article on it for almost two full years. Particularly controversial were the report’s estimates of infidelity and homosexual encounters. The second report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female was published in September 1953 — the Times did publish several articles on that publication.

The two Kinsey reports had a major impact on civil liberties. They opened the door for candid discussions of sexuality, which in turn led to legal challenges to censorship of books and movies with sexually-related themes. They also underpinned the sexual revolution, which led to challenges to restrictions on access to birth control and abortion. Finally, the evidence on the prevalence of homosexuality opened the door for more candid and morally neutral discussion of same sex relationships.

Learn more: James H. Jones, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life (1987)

Learn about Kinsey’s battles with censorship: Leigh Ann Wheeer, How Sex Became a Civil Liberty (2013)

Read the famous report: Alfred Kinsey, et al., Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948)

See the movie: Kinsey (2004)

Learn more about the history of the Kinsey Institute:  http://www.kinseyinstitute.org/about/history.html

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