Alfred Kinsey: Liberator or Pervert?

“More than half a century after the publication of his landmark study, ‘Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,’ Alfred C. Kinsey remains one of the most influential figures in American intellectual history. He’s certainly the only entomologist ever to be immortalized in a Cole Porter song. Thanks to him, it’s now common knowledge that almost all men masturbate, that women peak sexually in their mid-30’s and that homosexuality is not some one-in-a-million anomaly. His studies helped bring sex – all kinds of sex, not just the stork-summoning kind – out of the closet and into the bright light of day.

But not everyone applauds that accomplishment. Though some hail him for liberating the nation from sexual puritanism, others revile him as a fraud whose ‘junk science’ legitimized degeneracy. Even among scholars sympathetic to Kinsey there’s disagreement. Both his biographers regard him as a brave pioneer and reformer, but differ sharply about almost everything else. One independent scholar has even accused him of sexual crimes.

All of which makes the decision by the writer and director Bill Condon to place him at the center of a major Hollywood biopic – one loaded up with stars, including Liam Neeson, Laura Linney and Peter Sarsgaard – rather striking.”

More here by Caleb Crain in the New York Times.

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