5,940 Women

Article Tools

(See Cover) Four men collected the information, traveling across the U.S. for 15 years with the patient persistence of secret agents. They tried to be inconspicuous; they knew that they might be misunderstood.

Related Articles

They sought recruits in homes and prisons, saloons and parish houses, burlesque theaters and offices, then interrogated them in private. They took notes in a code which was nowhere written down, and preserved only in the memories of the four. They never traveled together, lest an accident wipe out their secret with them. Coded and catalogued, the facts were locked away, and the book written from them printed in utmost secrecy. Last week presses clattered, turning out pages that were scrupulously counted to make sure that none got away before publication date (Sept. 14).

The subject of this vast inquiry has been a major activity of the human race since Adam & Eve, and yet a lot of people still consider it highly classified. The book: Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, by Alfred C. Kinsey and the staff of the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University. Its chief author calls it simply "the female volume," and writes this "♂vol.," using the scientist's universal symbol, the mirror of Venus, for the female. For the male he uses &# 9792;, the arrow of Mars.

Some of the hush-hush surrounding the book seemed justified. Dr. Kinsey knew, he said, of five other books trying to beat his to the bookstalls; one had been in type for months, with blanks to be filled in with Kinsey's figures as soon as they could be obtained. Besides, the suspenseful buildup was excellent publicity. The publishers (Philadelphia's W. B. Saunders Co.) were counting on a sure bestseller: they had ordered a first printing of 250,000 for the 842-page, $8 tome, were certain that the public was breathless to learn what Kinsey had discovered about the American Woman.

How Sound Are the Figures? Less than six years ago, Kinsey & Co. had brought out Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, first of a projected nine-or ten-volume series of sex studies. It was cluttered with statistical furniture and dull, technical writing; Saunders, a staid old medical publishing house, thought it would be doing well to sell 5,000 copies. By now, the first Kinsey report has sold 250,000 copies in the U.S. and Canada, plus thousands in six translations. It outraged many moralists, infuriated not a few scientists who questioned its reliability, and was a boon to radio comedians, who found that Kinsey's name had become an acceptable synonym for sex. One spinster snapped back at Kinsey that his elaborate study only confirmed what she had known all along—that "the male population is a herd of prancing, leering goats."

You will need to install or upgrade your Flash Player to be able to view this Flash content. Also, Javascript must be turned on.
Grab it! to put Quotes of the Day on your personal page or blog
Features
| Click arrows to view more features
More features