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The Kinsey Institute Today
by John Bancroft, M.D., Director

A lecture on the occasion of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of The Kinsey Institute, given Friday, October 24, 1997, at the Indiana University Fine Arts Auditorium, in conjunction with the opening of the Institute's 50th Anniversary Exhibition, "The Art of Desire: Erotic Treasures from the Kinsey Institute."

Table of Contents

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Introduction: Human Sexuality

Do you ever ask yourself the question why sex is such a sensitive topic, why it generates so much heat and so little reason? Is there anything about the human condition which is more fundamental, apart from sheer survival? And if reproduction is the most fundamental aspect of sex, it is not the only one. It is because of sex that we are divided into male and female. Consider the extent to which our lives and cultures are organized around gender and gender differences. Furthermore, we humans are one of a number of mammalian species where sexual behavior serves functions other than reproduction. Perhaps the most important of these is the unique capacity for sex to foster intimacy between two people and bind the relationship.

Sex is also, of course, a source of pleasure. Other functions are less positive, or in my value system, less desirable. Sex can be used for reinforcing one's sense of gender - this is central to the power inequalities between men and women, which are so widespread, and which result in many parts of the world in women having little or no control over their reproductive lives or their reproductive health. It can be used to bolster ones self-esteem. It can be used to express hostility. In fact, for most of us the process of being sexual, of engaging in sexual activity and becoming sexually aroused, letting yourself go, makes us vulnerable - vulnerable to be hurt, rejected or ridiculed.

It is my belief that it is this vulnerability which accounts for the positive effects of sex on intimacy. If you can make yourself vulnerable in this way with another person and remain unscathed, the effect is positive and binding. In most respects, that positive effect requires privacy. Most of us see our sexual lives as very private; is that the answer to my opening question? I do not think so. As Kinsey found in his research, and as I have found throughout my career, if you have good reasons to ask people about this very private part of their lives and you show a respect for confidentiality, the large majority are quite prepared to talk about their own sexuality, and a surprising proportion welcome the opportunity to talk about it in a reasonable way, often enabling them to gain a better understanding of their sexual selves. But in addition, in today's society we are bombarded by sexual messages, surrounded by sexual images. Sex is both a commodity, which in various forms, is for sale, and sex is widely used to enhance the appeal of other commodities for sale. In a society such as ours, sex is not only a part of private life, it also has a very public face.

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Socio-Cultural Constraints on Sexuality

Where, then, is the threat? It is a universal of human societies that sexuality needs to be constrained. It is otherwise disruptive of the social process. You do not have sex in the middle of a shopping mall, because the other shoppers will be aroused or otherwise disturbed by it - and you certainly do not want any negative impact on sales! Marriage is an institution universal to all human societies, which serves to structure sexual relationships into families, linked in various ways to constraints on intrafamilial breeding. Taboos against incest are universal, though varying in the extent of kinship covered by the taboos. We can therefore confidently conclude that human societies have always required the sexuality of their members to be constrained to some extent. And, inevitably, the need for sexual constraint becomes organized and expressed in terms of sexual morality, i.e., distinguishing between what is right and wrong, sinful or virtuous, as well as laws governing sexual behavior. And that is as it should be; what can be more relevant to personal morality than the responsibility for the creation of a new human being, except perhaps responsibility for bringing life to an end in those already living?

Yet we find considerable variations across cultures and through history in the extent of the constraints on sexual behavior and the ways in which they are organized into sexual moralities and laws. We find cultures in which the prevailing sexual morality, while setting clear limits, allows sexuality to be regarded as a positive manifestation of living and relating; others where the sexual morality pervades the sexual experience with guilt. As the prevailing sexual morality, by definition, demands conformity, so sexual non-conformity becomes a vehicle for dissent. And as human societies have become more complex, so have mechanisms of social dissent played a crucial role, often through a socially disturbing dialectic process, in the evolution of each society.

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Alfred Kinsey's Research

Alfred Kinsey is often portrayed as someone who had a mission to change the prevailing sexual morality and make it less repressive. I personally am not convinced that this was the mission that started him on his great research endeavor, but I am prepared to believe that once he got into it, he became concerned about the prevailing sexual moralities and laws and disturbed by the extent to which he found individuals imprisoned for involvement in consensual sexual activity, such as between two adult men. For those not married, virtually all forms of sexual activity were, strictly speaking, illegal, except for masturbation, which, particularly for the lower socioeconomic groups, was typically regarded as unacceptable, if not actually illegal. Even within marriage, certain types of consensual sex, such as oral sex, were illegal in certain states.

Kinsey clearly felt compassion for the many individuals whose sexual lives were unnecessarily wracked with guilt or inhibition resulting from this moral climate, perhaps identifying with them because of his own sexually inhibited upbringing. Whether or not he saw himself as a "missionary," he clearly decided that the most useful thing he could do was to collect the facts and present them in as scientific and non-judgmental fashion as possible. He acknowledged that it was not the job of science to decide what was right or wrong or morally acceptable, but he strongly believed that those who were responsible for making moral judgments should be as well informed as possible. He therefore took it upon himself to provide such information. Throughout his writing, Kinsey refrained from making any moral comparison of one form of sexual behavior with another. As a consequence he has been accused of being amoral, of regarding all forms of sexual expression as equal in moral terms, and, at least by default, of being a champion of sexual immorality. This raises an issue which is not just of historic interest - it is relevant to how we do sex research today, and it is an issue which is complex.

Today, with the wisdom of hindsight, we can consider Kinsey naive in believing that he could maintain a position of scientific objectivity, free from moral evaluation, in any field of study involving the human condition, let alone sexuality. I regret that at some stage before he died he did not make a clear statement about what his own moral values were in relation to sexual behavior. It would then have been more difficult for others to attribute to him whatever moral values suit their purpose. Having said that, he would have been faced with a dilemma. He was remarkably successful in instilling confidence in his interviewees that they could share sensitive information about their sexual lives with him, and that it would go no further. That would have been, or might have been, very much more difficult if he had not maintained a totally non-judgmental position. And unlike modern large surveys, which are completed using large numbers of interviewers over a period of one or two years, his project was ongoing over many years, so that when he died, he regarded it as far from finished. Any clear statement by him about what he found unacceptable might have influenced subsequent data collection. I often wonder just how much modern surveys can convey that non-judgmental message to allow respondents to reveal sensitive information, and how much such information is underreported for that reason. It is therefore of interest that recently it has been shown that sensitive sexual behaviors are more likely to be revealed to a computer than a human interviewer, presumably because the computer is non-judgmental. But would computers do better than Alfred Kinsey? That we will never know.

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Sexuality Research Today

So how should we at The Kinsey Institute, and indeed other sex researchers, deal with this moral issue today? Nowadays, most scientists would acknowledge that their research is bound to be influenced by their own value system to some extent. Even if it just influences their priorities, that will be the case. Once you acknowledge that fact, then you can strive to minimize the extent to which your values undermine the objectivity of your science. I took a decision on this issue several years ago, following a painful experience of having other people attribute moral values to me which were grotesquely wrong. I made my sexual value system clear in a personal statement at the beginning of my book, Human Sexuality and Its Problems (Churchill Livingstone, 1989), so that anyone appraising my research or my opinions can draw their own conclusions about my biases. You will notice that I express my personal values on a number of occasions during this talk.

The title of my talk is "The Kinsey Institute Today." As I hope will become clear, we cannot consider the role of the Institute today, without first putting it into historical context. This Institute remains unique in the world as an Institute dedicated to the serious study of human sexuality from a broad, interdisciplinary perspective. That fact tells us two things; first it emphasizes the neglect, or perhaps more appropriately, the evasion of the serious study of sex; and secondly, it indicates how precious The Kinsey Institute is and emphasizes the need to support and enhance its function.

An exception to the general picture of neglect has been the extraordinary increase in social history studies in the last 20 years which help us to understand how social attitudes to sex have changed through history. Certain themes stand out. The importance of demonstrating her fertility for a young woman in the North of Europe. The importance of demonstrating her virginity for the young woman in Mediterranean Europe. The impact of the Industrial Revolution, and, with the advent of the affluent middle class, the importance of discipline and control - the shift of the body as an organ of pleasure to an organ of achievement, with need for concealment of bodily functions, including sex. The recurring theme of sexual passion as a threat to the dignity and self-control of rational man, parallel, in the 19th century, to the threat that Darwin's theory of evolution posed to the separateness of mankind from the animals. The paradox that the conflict between passion and self-control is the essence of the human condition.

The history of European marriage itself is a fascinating one, including marked changes in the expectations of marriage, the shift to the companionate marriage that has occurred in this century being a more recent example. I shall return to the historical perspective to consider the last 50 years a little later - as this is our 50th Anniversary, those 50 years are of special importance to us, and as it turns out, of enormous importance to mankind.

The Kinsey Institute has played an important part, as a scholarly source, in many of these historical studies. Generally speaking, studying what people did sexually in the past poses few problems. It is studying what they are doing sexually today that gets you into difficulty. There is a fear of knowledge about sexual behavior. That fear was clearly evident when Alfred Kinsey published his findings. "It is better that we don't know" was the gist of this reaction. Lionel Trilling, one of the more rational of Kinsey's critics, questioned the "cultural wisdom of dropping it in a lump on the general public." He presumably would have preferred for it to be delivered in more manageable portions over a longer period of time. It says something about the enormity of Kinsey's effort that it was a far greater lump, in terms of its effects, than anything that preceded it or is ever likely to follow it. It also reminds us that if there had been a tradition of scholarship in studying the sexual aspect, as there has been in relation to just about every other aspect of the human condition, such large lumps would not occur.

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Political Climate

Well, the fear of knowledge about sexual behavior is alive and kicking today. The recent survey, Sex In America (Little, Brown, and Co., 1994), carried out at the University of Chicago and the National Opinion Research Center, illustrates this point. The original version of that study, of considerable importance to grappling with the recent threats of sexually transmitted disease, was designed in response to a request for proposals from NIH and approved following peer review for federal funding. Political opposition blocked that funding, and the survey was eventually carried out only because of financial support from a number of private foundations, and on a much smaller scale than originally intended, and, in fact, needed in order to achieve several of its key objectives. The political opposition appeared to be based on the fear that if the research found high rates of sexual licentiousness, this would somehow legitimate and increase it. There was a particular concern that the study would find high rates of homosexuality - in the event, it did not.

It is worth reflecting on the fact that Kinsey's research was made possible by funds from the Rockefeller Foundation, administered by the National Research Council. This funding was brought to an end by political pressure on the Rockefeller Foundation - that was at the height of the McCarthy inquisitions, when some of Kinsey's critics feared that his findings would result in the infiltration of communism into the U.S. Once that unhappy phase in American history had passed, but, of course, some years after Kinsey's death, federal funding for sex research at The Kinsey Institute became available, resulting in a series of key studies on homosexuality, and the development of the Institute as an information source on issues relating to sexuality. In addition, there have been a number of other large scale surveys on specific aspects of sexuality, federally funded in the years until the recent blockade of the University of Chicago project. It therefore appears that we have re-entered a phase when political pressure will make federal funding of sex research difficult, and once again we need the support of private foundations.

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Crisis-Driven Research

Federal money is being spent on AIDS-related behavioral research, but in a way that reflects a recurring pattern in the United States: when a crisis is recognized, a crisis-driven wave of research results. We saw this first with concern about the impact of premarital sex on later marital happiness, leading to a wave of studies in the 1960s. In the 1970s and 80s we had a wave of research driven by concern about teenage pregnancy, and now we have the current HIV/AIDS-driven wave. In each case, we are left with more knowledge about human sexuality than we started with, but of a limited, problem-oriented kind. When the next crisis hits us, we discover once again that there are fundamental issues about human sexuality of which we remain ignorant, and we lack the basic scholarship and methodology to tackle those issues most effectively. It would be comforting to think that one long-term consequence of the HIV/AIDS epidemic will be the acknowledgment that human sexuality needs continuous, supported, serious academic study, so that when the next big sex-related crisis hits us, as it surely will, we will be better prepared.

It is to the Ford Foundation's credit that they have in recent years recognized the crucial need for a better understanding of human sexuality, and, in the face of political obstacles to federal support, have committed themselves to helping that cause in various ways, most notably by funding the recently started Sexuality Research Fellowship Program, administered by the Social Science Research Council. Let us hope that other private foundations will follow their example.

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Current Controversary about Alfred Kinsey

Tomorrow, in the town square of Bloomington, Indiana, the Concerned Women for America (CWA) will be holding one of a series of demonstrations across the country calling for closure of The Kinsey Institute. This is part of a campaign which has been running now for several years involving various groups. In December 1995, a freshman member of the House of Representatives was persuaded by the Family Research Council to introduce a bill calling for a federal investigation of Kinsey's research and withdrawal of federal funds from any institution whose teaching was in anyway influenced by Kinsey's work - an absurd bill which inevitably got nowhere. Not surprisingly, at the end of last year the congressman was not re-elected. Now the CWA have taken up the cudgel. The objective appears to be to discredit Kinsey, and in the process to undermine and eventually eliminate sex education in the schools.

The cudgel has the following shape. First, Kinsey is accused of carrying out sexual experiments on children. That is regarded as adequate to discredit him. Then, modern sex education is alleged to be built on the "Kinsey Model." Finally, we are told that SIECUS was founded at The Kinsey Institute specifically to teach and promote Kinsey's theories. In a nutshell, this accounts for the appalling decline in sexual morals in the United States.

Well, as we have repeatedly and consistently stated, Kinsey did not carry out sexual experiments on children or hire others to do so.

There is no such thing as the "Kinsey Model," and Kinsey did not produce theories. He was an empirical scientist who reported his findings. Most modern sex educators respect Kinsey as a pioneer, but his findings have little if any relevance to sex education today. Nor should they; there are much more recent findings to take into account.

The founding of SIECUS had nothing to do with Kinsey or The Kinsey Institute.

The allegations of child sexual abuse are clearly assumed to be the most effective weapon for most of the population, but in preparing for their demonstration in Bloomington, Concerned Women for America approached the student population with a different slant. Sending out e-mails to "Dear IU Student," the emphasis changes to rape. Kinsey, the student is told, was in favor of abolishing all sex laws, including laws against rape, unless serious "force" is used. The student is then encouraged to believe, with a further example of crude sophistry, that Kinsey's wish to abolish laws against rape is causally related to the massive increase in the amount of rape in the United States. Well, there is no way that Kinsey would have favored abolishing laws against rape, or many other sex laws for that matter. And for the rest, what can one say. It goes on and on.

This country rightly favors freedom of speech. But these groups are prepared to make statement after statement that have no foundation in fact. They are uninterested in whether it is true, as long as it serves their political purpose. Is this morality? Their messages are accompanied by righteous indignation and calls to prayer. Are there worse examples of hypocrisy around today? This piling of one palpable nonsense on top of another deserves to be ignored, but unfortunately we cannot. These people have money and they are not going to go away.

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The Last 50 Years: Historical Context

But let us take a look at the basic theme - that Kinsey is responsible for the decline in sexual morals and the importance of the family in American society, and attempt to put that theme into perspective. Let us briefly look at the 50 years since Kinsey.

Economic and Political Changes

The past 50 years, which amounts to the 50 years since the end of the Second World War, are quite without precedent in terms of the extraordinary amount of change that has affected human societies across our planet, most markedly in the developed capitalist countries, but by no means confined to them. There is a tendency in this country to look at changes within the United States of America in isolation from the rest of the world. Most of what I have to say applies worldwide. The first 30 of these years have been called the "Golden Age of Capitalism." During that time the world economy grew at an explosive rate. World output of manufacturing goods quadrupled and world trade in those goods increased tenfold during the first 20 years. There was a major increase in the standard of living for the large majority in the developed world.

Central to this boom was a technological revolution. This utterly transformed everyday life in the developed world, and had an appreciable effect elsewhere also. Increasingly, the new technologies were capital intensive and labor saving. Increasingly, people were needed as consumers rather than producers. During this time there was a shift to the left in government of most capitalist countries, together with a substantial move towards the concept of the welfare state. Perhaps not surprisingly, this golden age was too good to last and from the mid-70s onward, we have been once again in a period of crises.

Social Changes

Paralleling this economic history is a major social revolution worldwide, evident in massive migration of workers from the country to the town, accompanied by substantial increases in the number of young people going to university for further education, and in the 80s and 90s we see in full flood the major draining away of the working class in the developed world. Unemployment, a negligible issue during the golden years, was now a major problem with huge social impact, accompanied by further labor migration on a massive scale.

During these years we see major changes in the role of women in the labor market. In 1940, 14% of women in the United States were married women in employment. By 1980, this was more than 50%. There was a striking increase in the entry of women into higher education. At the end of the Second World War, 15-30% of students in the developed countries were women. By 1980, in many of these countries including the United States, more than half.

Such changes were clearly instrumental in the impressive revival of feminist movements from the 1960s on, and in the 1980s onward, we see political consciousness spreading beyond educated, middle class women to women in general. For example, the revolt among traditionally faithful women in Roman Catholic countries against unpopular doctrines such as the restrictions on divorce and abortion. This growing demand by women to improve their rights and to have control over their reproductive lives is now strong worldwide, but still with a fair way to go. The entrenched power structures of patriarchies will not respond readily. Yet I would venture to suggest that no single factor is more important for the further development and improvement of human society than the fundamental issue of establishing the proper relationship between men and women.

Needless to say, such changes have been associated with a major restructuring of attitudes to marriage and the family. In particular, there have been dramatic increases in the rates of marital breakdown and divorce worldwide. The United States leads the figures at each stage. Between 1960 and 1980 in the United States, the divorce rate per 1000 population doubled, though it has since declined to the levels reached in the early 70s. In the United States, in that same time period between 1960 and 1980 the proportion of households that consisted of the classical Western nuclear family, a married couple with children, fell from 44% to 29%.

This crisis of the family was associated with dramatic changes in the public standards, both official and unofficial, governing sexual behavior, partnership and procreation. Again, this was worldwide, though more marked in some countries than others. We see the decriminalization of homosexuality between consenting adults in most developed countries, and the legalization of abortion in many. This was the law recognizing the new climate of sexual relaxation rather than creating it. This was the recognition that Kinsey wanted to happen, when he found the law so out of touch with prevailing patterns of sexual behavior.

Rise of Youth Culture

And if we see many of these changes as reflecting a crisis in the relations between the sexes, even more dramatic and revolutionary was the rise of a powerful youth culture, reflecting a profound change in the relations between the generations. We have youth as a self-conscious group, stretching from puberty to the middle twenties, with puberty itself being several years earlier than had been the case in earlier generations. In the 1960s, the political impact of this youth culture was a force to be reckoned with. This new autonomy of youth as a separate social stratum reverberated with the golden years of capitalism, and the increasing earning potential of many young people, to produce a youth culture with major commercial impact.

Music and fashion were perhaps its most commercial manifestations. And the autonomy of this youth culture, and its distancing from the conventions of adulthood, was all the more dramatic because of the international nature of this movement. The music, the dress, the political ideals crossed long established cultural and language barriers with extraordinary ease, aided by the miracles of modern information technology, themselves very much the domain of the young. The personal liberation of the young from the constraints of their elders became mobilized into social liberation. And inevitably, the most obvious vehicles for liberation were sex and drugs. The rejection of conventional constraints as part of this youth culture became expressed in an openness to the pursuit of sexual pleasure which probably had no parallel, at least in recent history. The historian, Eric Hobsbawm, has described this cultural revolution as "the triumph of the individual over society."

Society Today

I am not sure that anyone is clear where this revolutionary process is going. We are perhaps too close to its recent phase to be able to see. But clearly there are further changes. Whereas we can claim some progress in male-female relationships, this has been at some cost. There is evidence of a backing off from the unrestrained sexuality of the 60s and 70s. Some painful consequences, ranging from herpes to AIDS, are probably having an effect. But we are left with a number of major problems which are more or less related to sexuality. The bulk of these are affecting the members of that same youth culture - whether it be unwanted teenage pregnancies, or sexually transmitted disease. And we are faced with the need to do something about these problems.

Even with the potted history of the last 50 years that I have presented, it is patently absurd to think that one man, Alfred Kinsey, whose main impact was to confront the world with what was already happening, and, in the process, open up discussion and debate, was responsible for, or even contributed to, these massive social changes, of which changes in the family and sexual morality were part; or to believe that by attacking and attempting to discredit Kinsey we will return to some happier, more virtuous state from the past, when young people remained under the moral influence of their families or local communities. Those who present their case in such terms are burying their heads in the sand whilst some of them emit dishonest and unseemly noises from their other ends.

Search for Solutions to Sexuality-Related Problems in Society Today

There will be no simple solution; but in searching for solutions we need to understand better the impact of these huge social changes before we can hope to influence their consequences. And maybe the key will lie in this shift from the family and community to the individual. How can we instill the sense of responsibility about sexual behavior in the individual, which was previously defined and reinforced by the family and community. This, I believe, is particularly germane to our approach to the sexuality of the adolescent. What has been singularly lacking is a concerted message from the adult world to adolescents that once they are fertile, which is much younger than it used to be, they each take on an awesome responsibility, which is the capacity to create new human beings. Unless we acknowledge their responsibility in this respect, and help them to recognize it, we can not expect them to deal with it appropriately. And rather than acknowledge that they carry this awesome responsibility, the reaction of the adult world is all too often to insist that they are simply too young, not to make babies, but to have sex.

Bear in mind that the average age at which males and females go through puberty, whilst it has probably leveled out, is a lot younger than it used to be; that the years between puberty and the mid-twenties is the time when both men and women have the maximum capacity for sexual arousal and response; that the age at marriage is increasing, particularly as young women pursue further education to give themselves the proper opportunities for adulthood. We can have laws to prohibit young teenagers driving cars, we can attempt to limit the access of youngsters to alcohol and tobacco, but we cannot stop adolescents from having strong sexual feelings.

But there is no reason to believe that the influence of the family or the community has disappeared, particularly for the younger adolescents. In the first report recently published from the large and important National Longitudinal Study on Adolescent Health - the Add Health Study (JAMA, September 10, 1997, v. 278, n. 10)) of more than 12,000 school children, two factors that were associated with later onset of sexual activity were connectedness with parents (i.e., feeling loved and wanted) and, even more strongly, connectedness at school (i.e., feeling part of the school, with friends there and respect for teachers). In today's urban society, the school is probably the closest a young person will get to a sense of community.

But there will be a range of opinions as to which solutions we should pursue. That is as it should be. There is a need for vigorous debate, as well as careful evaluation of the effects of different policies. And of course, issues of sexual morality will be central to this debate. But this needs to be done in a climate of honesty and respect for varying opinions, fundamentally different from these anti-Kinsey campaigns.

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The Role of the Institute Today


So what role does The Kinsey Institute have, in all of this, today? First and foremost, we provide international leadership in the broad interdisciplinary study of human sexuality and its relationship to both gender and reproduction. Whereas there has been a growth of interest in the study of human sexuality across many disciplines in recent years, there is a marked tendency for the field to be fragmented. If we are to obtain an adequate understanding of this fundamental aspect of the human condition, we must approach it in an interdisciplinary manner. So far, I have emphasized social and cultural influences. But sexuality has a fundamental biological component, and it is the interaction between the social and the biological that makes human sexuality a unique topic.

The Kinsey Institute Collections

Second, the Institute has extraordinarily rich collections of materials of value to scholars who are studying the impact of social and cultural change on sexuality. In addition to our extensive library, which includes popular culture materials as well as more conventional scholarly texts, we have extensive collections of photography and art, and popular artifacts, films and videos and the archival papers of the Kinsey Institute, which are a gold mine for social historians interested in the 1940s and 1950s.

An increasing range and diversity of scholars are using these collections, but we have a considerable amount of work to do to make them both safe from deterioration and accessible by means of modern technology. Already most of our print materials are cataloged online and can be identified through our World Wide Web site. We have been largely dependent on donations to build these collections. We have never used Indiana University money for acquisitions, but have a modest acquisition's budget derived from royalties and financial gifts. We are particularly indebted to the large number of collectors who have deposited their precious items with us over the years, and who continue to do so.

Current Research Program

Third, we are engaged in active research. This is not the type of research that Kinsey pioneered 50 years ago. Today, large-scale surveys are carried out very differently, and we have no plans to be involved in that type of research for the foreseeable future. There are, however, many key questions waiting to be answered which we do intend to grapple with. At present, an important component of our research program is exploring new ideas about why individuals vary in their propensity for engaging in high-risk sexual behavior. Whereas socio-cultural factors are clearly important, and are being studied, we are increasingly aware of the fact that within any specific socio-cultural context individuals will still vary in their risk-taking. We are examining possible neurobiological mechanisms, of a constitutional or early-acquired kind, which might help us to understand this variability. At present, this research is focusing on males, but soon we plan to have parallel studies of females addressing the same questions. There might prove to be some very interesting gender differences in this area.

We have a unique study underway to assess the effect of oral contraceptives on the sexuality and well-being of women, to further our understanding of why so many women discontinue these methods within the first few months. This research should have been carried out several decades ago. It is establishing methodology which will be relevant to newer methods of contraception as well as cross-cultural studies. In the female program, we are also investigating the impact of the menstrual cycle on psychophysiological responses to sexual stimuli.

Just started is a study which is using computer-assisted interviewing to ask young adults to recall their sexual play experiences, and any other sexual experiences, during their childhoods, as well as assessing their current sexual adjustment and well-being. This important study is aiming to fill a gap in our knowledge about common, presumably normal, childhood sexual play experiences and what relevance they may have to later sexual adjustment.

We are collaborating with the Department of Adolescent Medicine of the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis in explorations of sexual behavior and its determinants in teenagers with sexually transmitted diseases.

Information Services

Fourth, we have a crucial role as a source of information for the academic community. Whereas people have for a long time turned to The Kinsey Institute for information, our main effort at providing information is now through our World Wide Web site, of which we are proud. This is our interface with the world. It is being developed all the time, and if we can obtain the necessary extra resources, we plan to expand this to provide an up-to-date digest of recent and current research in key areas of sex research. I encourage you to visit our web site and see for yourselves. We have, incidentally, included there our responses to the series of allegations that have been made about Alfred Kinsey and the Institute.

The Kinsey Institute Clinics

Finally, as a new development for the Institute, we are providing clinical care for people with problems in their sexual lives and also for women having problems related to their menstrual cycles. This service interface with the local community adds a new and positive dimension to our presence here in Indiana.

Closing: The Institute's 50th Anniversary Celebration

We are proud of what The Kinsey Institute stands for, and for what we are doing today. It is because of that pride that we wanted to celebrate our 50th Anniversary this year - in fact, this evening, right here. Earlier this evening we launched the new Friends of The Kinsey Institute. I have spoken of those who oppose our work, who want us closed down. There are many others who support what we are doing, who recognize its importance. We need them for various reasons, not the least of which is to act as a liaison between us and their communities. We welcome them to join the Friends of the Kinsey Institute.

The exhibition which will open after my talk will provide you with some evidence of the depth and breadth of our collections and insights into how they help to understand the impact of culture on human sexuality. But that is not the main purpose of this exhibit. Its primary purpose is to share with you a selection of items that all of us who work at the Institute, and many of the scholars who have visited the Institute, have enjoyed over the years. We want to celebrate by sharing these treasures with you, and we sincerely hope that you will enjoy them too. We hope also that you will enjoy and cherish the delightful catalog that has been produced for the exhibition. I want to end by thanking the four curators and the many others who have been responsible for bringing together this exhibition. It has been a major undertaking, and The Kinsey Institute is indebted to them. Thank you, and thank you all for coming this evening.

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Copyright © 1997. John Bancroft. All rights reserved.

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