Male bisexuality in spotlight 60 years after Kinsey report (Lead)

December 16th, 2008 - 8:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Dec 16 (IANS) Sixty years after Alfred Kinsey, the noted American biologist and sexologist, propounded his theory that culture and environment play a key role in a person’s sexual behaviour, it is kindling new interest.Kinsey wrote “Sexual Behaviour in the Human Male”, a landmark report revealing major insights into bisexual behaviour and orientation.

Paul H. Gebhard, an original member of Kinsey’s research team and later a long-time director of The Kinsey Institute at the Indiana University, said Kinsey and his research team avoided looking for causes into sexual orientation out of concern that the findings could be used against people.

Through sexual history interviews, they instead sought to capture snapshots of human sexual experience, which proved to be fluid, according to their research, with individual sexual preferences or orientation often moving along the heterosexual-homosexual scale during one’s lifetime.

Since Kinsey’s day, Gebhard noted that many researchers have moved to a medical model of sex research - looking for genetic causes of homosexuality, often conducting research solely in the context of sexually transmitted disease transmissions or in an attempt to define what is “normal”, usually using heterosexuality as the reference point.

The place for bisexual individuals in sexuality research is vague, with research generally categorising people either “homosexual” or “heterosexual”, giving scant recognition to the continuum described by the sexual orientation scale.

The Kinsey Report unveiled the seven-point ‘heterosexual-homosexual rating scale’, commonly known as the Kinsey Scale, to gauge a person’s sexual orientation or experiences with both sexes.

“We seem to be swinging in the direction where some scientists are using these as universal explanatory constructs and trying to minimise, or even negate, the role of an individual’s culture and environment, aspects that Kinsey thought were most important,” said researcher Brian Dodge.

Gebhard, 92, is the last living member of the original Kinsey research team. He is professor-emeritus in the Department of Anthropology at IU and served as director of the Kinsey Institute from 1956-1982, when it was called the Institute for Sex Research. He lives in southern Indiana.

The article was published in the December issue of the Journal of Bisexuality, on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the Kinsey Report.

Sex researchers from Indiana University have collaborated with Gebhard to reflect on research involving male bisexuality 60 years since the “Kinsey Report” and potential directions for future research.

“Overall, Kinsey would be disappointed,” Gebhard told researchers Michael Reece and Brian Dodge, director and associate director of the Center for Sexual Health Promotion in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation.

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