American Sexual Behavior and The Kinsey Report (excerpts)

Ernst, Morris L., & Loth David
Place PublishedNew York
PublisherGreystone Press
ExtentSeveral excerpts
Type of WorkResearch

http://www.well.com/user/aquarius/ernstandloth.htm

Morris L. Ernst and David Loth

American Sexual Behavior and The Kinsey Report
foreword by Robert L. Dickinson, MD
New York: Greystone Press, 1948.

From Chapter I: Man and the Butterfly: Sexual Knowledge Before The Kinsey Report

(excerpt from pp. 12-15)

....Hitherto,. when it came to the sexual behavior of men and women, we have been content with the superstitions of our ancestors, added to the bits and pieces of information afforded by personal experience or talk that was seldom more than idle gossip. The same factors which governed the development of our actual sexual behavior seem to have set up the psychological blocks which have been the obstacles to our knowledge.

Observation and a reading of history show that not all people at all times and in all lands have the same attitudes toward sex. Yet the pattern of Western civilization has been established - and Westerners have sought to impose it upon the rest of the world - as if only one set of sexual customs was either desirable or natural. The Kinsey Report shatters some of that complacency, although enough had been dredged up by previous investigators to have shattered it quite a long time ago.

The sexual behavior of people is based on a great many different traditions, superstitions, impulses and individual experiences. But our attitudes toward sex are not even as reasonable as our behavior.

In the Western world, these attitudes stem fundamentally from two contrasting Mediterranean civilizations, each of which had a practical basis for its declared attitude toward sex. That practical basis disappeared with the societies which gave birth to it, and modern man seems to have chosen to merge the worst features of each. Hypocrisy was the result.

The two civilizations we have drawn upon were the Greek and the Jewish.

The Greeks inhabited a rather unproductive land and, at the heights of their glory, there were a great many of them per square mile. They were intelligent enough to realize that all of them would suffer if their population grew so rapidly that mouths multiplied faster than resources. The result was a set of sexual customs which positively discouraged reproduction. As a last resort they employed infanticide, but they preferred less obviously harsh measures.

Therefore, homosexuality was an accepted outlet for the sexual drive of both men and women. A Greek gentleman was thought a little queer, not quite respectable, if he did not keep a male lover. In addition, a highly regarded class of women was developed, a sort of super-mistress with whom Greek men could have extra-marital relations without fear of consequences, either in the way of undesirable offspring or social ostracism.

Homosexuality among women was so equally recognized as a proper sexual outlet that the Greek island of Lesbos gave its name to the practice. Among the Greeks it was not a word which needed to be said in whispers or behind the hand.

So far as we can tell, neither the strength of the. Greek race nor the standards of its culture suffered. Rather, they established a golden age which successive generations have tried to emulate - but not in their frank approach to sex.

The Jews were equally practical. They were not numerous. They dwelt in a rich and fertile country. They were surrounded by enemies larger in number and stronger than themselves. Population to develop their resources was imperative if they were to survive as a nation. So their attitude toward sex was one of welcome to every sort of behavior which promised children, and the condemnation of those sex acts which failed to produce offspring.

From this little nation's determination to survive, stem in large part our attempts to proscribe adultery, fornication, bestiality, onanism (the practice of withdrawal, which by implication has been extended to all contraception), infanticide, homosexuality and masturbation.

At the same time, the Jews exalted polygamy. They spoke with pride of Solomon's thousand wives and with deep respect of the prowess of those heroes whose long list of "begats" mars some of the easy flow of Old Testament poetry. Jewish law went go far as to require a man to marry his brother's childless widow and raise up children for him. Indeed, an impartial reading shows that it was for his refusal to do this rather than for the act of "dropping his seed upon the ground" that the Lord slew Onan.

With the Kinsey Report, we have taken the first long step toward being as rational as the Greeks and the Jews. Professor Kinsey has given us a mirror to look into. The manner in which the public has received it is one of the tributes he likes best. For in reading and acclaiming his book, we the people have proved that we are not afraid to look at our real selves.

Seeing the truth is the first step toward the handling of a problem, but it not the solution. In this case, our habits, both of thinking and acting, have been so conditioned by the blind acceptance of standards fitted to another age that we do not know what a practical attitude toward sex behavior should be. What is normal? What is moral? What is pure? How much of our legal code dealing with sex is sensible? What is healthy? ....  

From Chapter IV: Sexual Questions of Children

(excerpt from pp. 44-46)

.... Homosexual experience before adolescence was more frequent [than heterosexual] among the subjects studied for the Kinsey Report, but it generally began somewhat later than experiences with girls. Sixty percent of the boys who were not yet adolescents when their histories were taken had some homosexual activity, and 48 percent of the older men and boys remembered having had it.

For about 12 per cent of these cases of pre-adolescent homosexual activity, it began at five years old or earlier, and the average age for this was nine years, two and a half months.

Here again, exhibitionism was the first stage, and one third of the boys never went beyond it - a larger proportion than in the case of those who had their first experience with girls. Two-thirds of them reported mutual. touching of the sex organs, but only a small proportion seem to have advanced beyond mere exploration to any sort of erotic sensation in the course of this practice. About 17 per cent had experienced more advanced homosexual relations.

The Report gives some figures which perhaps explain why more boys find their early sex adventures in company with other boys rather than with girls. A big majority of all those studied - 72.3 per cent - have as a matter of course many more male companions than female playmates, and therefore have less opportunity for experiences with girls. Also boys are encouraged to scorn games with girls in virtually every sort of American environment, and they nearly always seek to copy older boys. Thus both opportunity and tradition tend to lead the great majority of pre-adolescent boys in the direction of the homosexual pattern.

These statistical data may shock many parents. The facts show that most male children's sexual behavior is markedly at odds, to say the least, with what their elders seek to impress upon them as healthy and desirable. The Kinsey Report undoubtedly will result in a good deal of soul-searching in regard to sex education for the very young. In some parts of the world, co-education has been abandoned on the ground that the sexes mature physically, emotionally and intellectually at different rates.

The Report has set forth the facts. Interpretation of them to the extent of leading to some definite action or recommendations is not so easy. Probably the first step must be to consider seriously the very great amount of children's sexual activity which the Kinsey Report reveals. Then those in charge of the education of children must make up their minds whether it is better to try to suppress this activity, divert it into non-sexual outlets or guide its development.

Just how much the generally artificial attitude, of adults toward the human body contributes to the sexual behavior of their children can only be guessed at this point. Professor Kinsey and his associates have not attempted to collate any data on this score. However there seems to be no doubt that the prohibitions which are imposed upon any discussion or thought about sex raise in the child's mind questions which are not satisfied by the vague and elusive answers which most children get. Only after the fear of parental displeasure has been removed can we find out what that taboo can do to the child's mind. Perhaps the silliest attitude parents can take is the peremptory order "Stop!" ....  

From Chapter VI: Sexual Behavior of the Unmarried Male

(excerpt from pp. 71-72)

....College men are the lowest in homosexual outlet at this age [i.e. late teens] - 2.4 per cent - while grade school boys [i.e. men whose highest level of education is grade school] owe 6.9 per cent of their total to this source and high school boys 10.8 per cent. The Kinsey Report states that although the environment of the high school is generally more condemnatory of homosexuality than either of the other two, their rate of activity is highest....  

(excerpt from pp. 77-78

....Perhaps the most unpalatable surprise in the Kinsey figures on single men is the conclusion that the percentage of the nation's bachelors who have homosexual experiences rises steadily with each age group. Between adolescence and fifteen years, it is given as 27.3 per cent. Between the ages of thirty-six and forty, 38.7 per cent of bachelors have had such contacts. It is indicated that the proportion of those over fifty is more than half.

The Report warns again[st] misinterpretation of these figures. They do not mean that this percentage of single males are homosexuals in the popular meaning of that word. Actually, it is to be deplored that customarily a person who has had a single homosexual experience is classified (if it is known) as a homosexual, although he or she may habitually have relations with the opposite sex almost exclusively. But the figures given show a need for further study of the reasons for the high incidence of this practice.

In this, as in other areas of sexual behavior, the Report has given us data for a new appraisal of the bachelor. He turns out to be neither a hellion and a rake nor a prude. In comparison with his married brother, he labors under good many sexual handicaps, but is usually well able to adapt himself to the customs of the environment in which he finds himself. The question of whether the environment should be changed to meet his needs more closely is not one which should be answered lightly.

After all, bachelorhood itself, except as a temporary condition, is a departure from what we like to consider normal. Men who remain single must be apart from the mainstream of life - the family. Failure ever to enter the home-making group has varied and profound sexual implications. Others in scientific fields must take up this challenge of the Kinsey Report.....  

From Chapter X: Guilt and Adventure

(excerpt from pp. 119-120)  

....The important factor of the availability of women has not been adequately explored as yet. The Kinsey data on the prison population, for example, are interesting in connection with some previous studies which indicate that the incidence of homosexuality has been increased by the need for finding some sexual outlet in a society of men. The interviewers took the histories of hundreds of prisoners and found that about 40 per cent of them had some sort of homosexual experience before being admitted. But only the long-term prisoners seem to increase the rate of homosexual activity. The others were satisfied with a lower rate because, the Report indicates, they were not exposed to erotic stimulus.

This finding is suggestive, but we still need data on the effect of the pattern of life in big cities as against small. Does the possibility of anonymity in the city, the greater variety of population affect sexual behavior? Even youths in the same occupation may be changed by their environment. It would be interesting to know whether the soda jerker in a college town has more nearly the sexual behavior of the college student or the boy in the city....  

From Chapter XI: Sexual Behavior and the Law

(excerpt from pp. 128-134)  

....The average American of the sort who contributed histories to the Kinsey study would find it hard to grope his way through this maze of legality without breaking a statute here and there. But when violations become the rule rather than the exception we reach a stage of more or less polite evasion of the law. This is a serious civic disadvantage, for it is a corrupt way of achieving results which fit into the community's real customs.

Most of us can recall the shocking experience of the nation during the prohibition era. In that sad period in our history, the people endeavored to impress upon our folkways by legislative fiat a pattern of living which was inconsistent with their own desires and with their own proven practices. As a result of this hypocrisy, the cynicism which was originally applied to the prohibition laws tended to spread to all laws. Law-breaking became not only common but respectable.

The Kinsey Report gives us some idea of how common is the violation of laws which seek to regulate sexual behavior. The outlawed practices, it is true, have not yet become positively respectable. But if they continue indefinitely, especially in the light of increasing knowledge, how long can we keep our legal standards separated by such a wide gap from the actual practices of great masses of the population? Here, for example, is a table showing the way the forty-eight States and the District of Columbia assess four sex crimes (reprinted from an article by James R. Miller in the February issue of '48):  

ALABAMA
Adultery:         1st conviction - $100 and/or 6 months; 2nd - $300 and/or 1 year; 3rd - 2 years
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       1-10 years
Sodomy:         2-10 years

ARIZONA
Adultery:         3 years
Fornication:     no crime; cohabitation - 3 years
Seduction:       1-5 years
Sodomy:         1-5 years

ARKANSAS
Adultery:         1st conviction - $20-$100; 2nd - $100 and/or 1 year; 3rd - 1-3 years
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       1-10 years and $5000
Sodomy:         5-21 years

CALIFORNIA
Adultery:         1 year and/or $1000
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       5 years and/or $5000
Sodomy:         1-10 years; oral perversion - 15 years

COLORADO
Adultery:         1st offense - $200 or 6 months; 2nd - double; 3rd - treble
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       10 years
Sodomy:         I year to life

CONNECTICUT
Adultery:         5 years
Fornication:     $100 and/or 6 months
Seduction:       5 years and $1000
Sodomy:         30 years

DELAWARE
Adultery:         1 year and/or $500 (applies also to unmarried person)
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         $1000 and 3 years

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
Adultery:         $500 and/or 1 year
Fornication:     $100 or 6 months
Seduction:       3 years and/or $200
Sodomy:         no crime

FLORIDA
Adultery:         2 years or $500
Fornication:     3 months or $30; with a minor, 10 years or $2000
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         20 years

GEORGIA
Adultery:         $1000 or 1 year
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       2-20 years
Sodomy:         life; bestiality - 5-20 years

IDAHO
Adultery:         $100 - $1000 or 3 months - 3 years
Fornication:     $300 or 6 months
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         5 years

ILLINOIS
Adultery:         1st conviction - $500 or I year; 2nd - double; 3rd - treble
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       $1000-5000 and/or 1 year
Sodomy:         1-10 years

INDIANA
Adultery:         $500 and/or 6 months
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       6 months - 5 years
Sodomy:         $100-1000 and/or 2-14 years

IOWA
Adultery:         3 years or 1 year and $300
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       5 years or $1000 and 1 year
Sodomy:         10 years

KANSAS
Adultery:         6 months and/or $500
Fornication:     $500-$1000 or 30 days - 3 months
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         10 years

KENTUCKY
Adultery:         $20-$50
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       1-5 years
Sodomy:         2-5 years

LOUISIANA
Adultery:         no crime
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         $2000 and/or 5 years

MAINE
Adultery:         5 years or $1000
Fornication:     $100 and 60 days; cohabitation - $300 or 5 years
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         1-10 years

MARYLAND
Adultery:         $10
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         1-10 years

MASSACHUSETTS
Adultery:         2-3 years or $500
Fornication:     3 months or $30; cohabitation - 3 years or $300
Seduction:       2-1/2 to 3 years and/or $1000
Sodomy:         20 years

MICHIGAN
Adultery:         4 years and/or $2000 (applies also to unmarried person)
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       5 years or $2500
Sodomy:         15 years

MINNESOTA
Adultery:         2 years or $300
Fornication:     90 days or $100
Seduction:       5 years and/or $1000
Sodomy:         20 years

MISSISSIPPI
Adultery:         $500 and 6 months
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       5 years
Sodomy:         10 years

MISSOURI
Adultery:         1 year and/or $1000
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       2-5 years or, $1000 and 1 year
Sodomy:         2 years

MONTANA
Adultery:         $500 and/or 6 months
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       5 years and/or $5000
Sodomy:         5 years

NEBRASKA
Adultery:         1 year
Fornication:     $100 and 6 months
Seduction:       6 months - 5 years
Sodomy:         20 years

NEVADA
Adultery:         no crime
Fornication:     no crime; cohabitation - 6 months - 1 year and/or $500 - $1000
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         5 years - life

NORTH CAROLINA
Adultery:         punishable misdemeanor at common law
Fornication:     as same as adultery
Seduction:       5 years
Sodomy:         5 - 60 years

NORTH DAKOTA
Adultery:         1 - 3 years and/or $500
Fornication:     $100 and/or 30 days
Seduction:       1 - 5 years and/or $1000
Sodomy:         1-10

NORTH HAMPSHIRE
Adultery:         1 year and $500 or 3 years
Fornication:     $50 or 6 months
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         no crime

NEW JERSEY
Adultery:         $1000 and/or 3 years
Fornication:     $50 and/or 6 months
Seduction:       $2000 and/or 7 years
Sodomy:         $1000 and/or 21 years

NEW MEXICO
Adultery:         no crime
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       1-3 years and/or $1000-3000
Sodomy:         1 year and/or $1000

NEW YORK
Adultery:         6 months and/or $250
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       5 years and/or $1000
Sodomy:         20 years

OHIO
Adultery:         $200 and 3 months
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       6 months - 3 years
Sodomy:         1 - 20 years

OKLAHOMA
Adultery:         5 years and/or $500
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       1-5 years and/or $1000
Sodomy:         10 years

OREGON
Adultery:         3 months - 2 years or $200-$1000
Fornication:     $50-500 or 1 month-5 years
Seduction:       3 months-5 years or $500
Sodomy:         1-15 years

PENNSYLVANIA
Adultery:         1 year and/or $500
Fornication:     $100
Seduction:       $1000 and/or 3 years
Sodomy:         10 years

RHODE ISLAND
Adultery:         1 year or $500
Fornication:     $10
Seduction:       5 years
Sodomy:         7-20 years

SOUTH CAROLINA
Adultery:         $100 - $500 and/or 6 months-1 year
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       misdemeanor punishable at discretion of court
Sodomy:         5 years and/or $500

SOUTH DAKOTA
Adultery:         5 years and/or $500
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       1-5 years and/or $1000
Sodomy:         10 years

TENNESSEE
Adultery:         no crime
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         5-15 years

TEXAS
Adultery:         $100-$1000
Fornication:     $50-$500
Seduction:       2-10 years
Sodomy:         2-15 years

UTAH
Adultery:         3 years
Fornication:     6 months or $100
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         3-20 years

VERMONT
Adultery:         5 years and/or $1000
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         no crime

VIRGINIA
Adultery:         $20
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       2-10 years
Sodomy:         1-3 years

WASHINGTON
Adultery:         2 years or $1000
Fornication:     no crime
Seduction:       1-5 years and/or $1000
Sodomy:         10 years

WEST VIRGINIA
Adultery:         $20
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       no crime
Sodomy:         1-10 years

WISCONSIN
Adultery:         1-3 years or $200-1000
Fornication:     6 months and/or $100; with a chaste minor, 4 years and/or $200
Seduction:       1-5 years
Sodomy:         1-5 years

WYOMING
Adultery:         $100 and 3 months
Fornication:     same as adultery
Seduction:       12 months - 5 years
Sodomy:         12 months - 5 years

The variety of ways in which our State laws look at these various crimes is only equalled by the. caprice of their enforcement. In four of the States, adultery is not a crime at all. In three others, the adulterer may be sent to prison for five years. It would be interesting to learn whether the husbands of Tennessee or Nevada, where adultery is no crime, are any less faithful to their wives than their brothers in Vermont or Connecticut, where the penalty may be five years.

Of course, the fact that laws do not execute themselves helps mitigate the enforcement of them after the social patterns in which they reflected have passed away. In the forty-four States and the District of Columbia where adultery is a crime, there have been only a handful of prosecutions in the last few decades. Yet the Kinsey Report shows that from 23 to 37 per cent of all husbands between the ages of sixteen and fifty would be in jail, according to the strict letter of this one law alone.

The fact that our prisons are not bulging with erring husbands is partly due to the disinclination of enforcement officers to do their strict duty under the statute with the same enthusiasm that they seek murderers. Few district attorneys will prosecute such cases unless strong pressure is exerted by the outraged spouse. Few judges will send a man to jail for doing what the judge well knows many of his own friends have done. Arresting officers are at least as restrained. A Chicago policeman once told one of the authors that he never arrested anybody for anything he did himself. He was speaking specifically of offenses against the sex laws which came to his notice while on night duty in a park near a crowded residential district. His is probably typical of the state of mind of most of those who are involved in administering these laws.

Of course this introduces another caprice into the enforcement picture, and increases the gamble in which the men of the land engage during a large part of their active sexual lives. Whether an offender who is detected is prosecuted at all or, if convicted, gets a suspended sentence or two years in jail may well depend upon the sexual pattern of the particular judge who deals with his case. This certainly is a factor irrelevant to the question of whether the welfare of society demands that this offender be deprived of' liberty, fined, cautioned, or dismissed.

Virtually every page of the Kinsey Report touches some section of the legal code. Virtually every page is a reminder that the law, like much of the rest of our social pattern, falls lamentably short of being based on a knowledge of facts.

Homosexual behavior, whether of men or women, is generally outlawed. There is no distinction between the homosexual act which is the result of curiosity, or lack of other outlet, or of preference, or of some other factor; no distinction between the "oncer," as the Kinsey Report describes him, and the habitual practitioner. Perhaps there should be no distinction in the law. But certainly the men who drafted and passed these laws never knew that there was any possibility of such widespread homosexual activity as the Kinsey Report shows - "that at least 37 per cent of the male population has some homosexual experience between the beginning of adolescence and old age."

The law, even without amendments, is going through a period of great changes. It has become increasingly apparent, for example, that police court judges, being generally shocked by homosexual behavior, are likely to say: "I should like to send this damnable creature away for life. As a matter of fact, the lower-court judge tends to give the defendant the limit of the jail sentence permitted in the statute. But, on appeal, we find that the upper-court judges are likely to say: "Can't we get the poor devil a psychiatrist?"

In other words, there has been apparent in the course of legal progress in this field some slight indication of a recognition that all people might like to live within the patterns of accepted sexual behavior - to marry, to establish a home, to have children - but that in actual practice a certain percentage cannot conform. By the rigid standard of the law, 37 per cent have not so conformed. We know that in the actual balance of society, such a high percentage are not classified as homosexuals. However, those mavericks who are caught are treated as outcasts. The result of such treatment, obviously, is to drive the people who follow these patterns into stealth, secrecy, and ultimately a mood of underworld living. This is especially true, because the social condemnation is coupled with fear of arrest....  

From Chapter XIII: The Role of Birth Control

(excerpt from p. 159)  

....We still have to face the question of contraception for the unmarried, especially for the adolescent and the youngster emerging from adolescence. The Kinsey Report shows that, in the male at least, sexual activity is at its peak during the years before most men are in a position economically to marry. Already there has been discussion of the possibility of providing some socially acceptable outlet for so strong a drive. Nearly everyone is agreed that the present pattern as revealed in the Kinsey findings - a pattern with casual intercourse, masturbation, and homosexuality as its principal ingredients - ought not to be perpetuated. Whether greater knowledge of contraceptive techniques would change those patterns is a subject about which further data should be obtained. Whether it would be socially desirable is a question which requires further study....  

From Chapter XIV: American Sexual Habits Compared to Foreign

(excerpt from pp. 168-170)  

....The amount of homosexuality in European societies as compared with that which the Kinsey Report shows to exist here has never been adequately studied. One of the first scientists to seek some of the answers to the questions raised by homosexuality was a European, Magnus Hirschfeld. But he studied the most extreme cases, for it was not understood to what extent homosexual experience might be spread through the population among men and women who were their chief sexual outlet through other activities. Hirschfeld grew interested in the problem half a century ago when a young man who was his patient killed himself on eve of marriage rather than enter upon a sexual relationship which his homosexuality led him to dread.

It is perhaps significant that the most sensational and widely reported trials for homosexual behavior have been conducted in European courts. They have been attended with an amount of publicity which would surprise most Americans, who have become accustomed to hear Europeans complain that our press is more lurid than any other.

Sometimes there is a difficulty in deciding whether the outcry is primarily based on the outrage said to have been done to public opinion or on a desire for political advantage. The two great German dramatizations of such incidents were both essentially political. The first was the pillorying of Prince Philip von Eulenburg by rivals for the political favor of Kaiser Wilhelm. The second was the Munich blood purge of Captain Roehm and his associates in the internal Nazi struggle for power. Such incidents seem to suggest some correlation between the social attitude toward homosexuality and the social submission to dictatorship. Perhaps there is a connection between the greater use of sexual prejudices in politics and the nature of those politics. Scientific findings on these points, however, can only be made if we preserve enough free investigators to study the peoples who would rather be robots than men.

One of the first great studies in sexual behavior was that of Hirschfeld, who early in the century persuaded 10,000 men and women to fill out a questionnaire containing 130 questions. They were what he called "psychobiological" questions, but on the basis of them and of his medical practice, he reached some conclusions about homosexuality in Germany. One of these was that in the Germany of his day, with a population of 62,000,000, there were nearly a million and a half men and women "whose constitutional predisposition is largely or completely homosexual."

Just how big a proportion of his estimated million and a half German homosexuals found their way into Nazi uniforms is not known, of course. But a good many of them were attracted by Nazi principles and the society of their fellows in a bonds which excluded all women....