Following the publication of European studies and the development of the new profession of psychoanalysis, American colleges during the 1930’s began to move with the times and offer courses in sex education and marriage. Indiana University introduced a noncredit course on marriage in 1938. To teach the course the university tapped a middle-aged biologist of unquestioned moral standing.
Alfred C. Kinsey was an unlikely point man for a sexual revolution. Raised in a strict Methodist family and trained as a scientist, he was a crew-cut, bow-tied paragon of Midwestern virtue. He had earned a doctorate in entomology from Harvard University in 1920. His two-volume study of gall wasps marked him as a leading geneticist of his day and proved that he excelled in collecting and interpreting statistical data. For his sex and marriage course, Kinsey used interviews to quantify American sexual behavior through sex histories scientifically. A public controversy over his work arose almost immediately.
In 1940 the president of Indiana University, who was sympathetic to Kinsey’s work, responded to complaints from local clerics by advising Kinsey that he could either teach his course or record his histories, but not both. Kinsey chose the latter. By 1948 he was ready to begin publishing his findings.
Kinsey’s first book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948), was an immediate best-seller. Its findings supported the idea that...
(The entire section is 440 words.)