American Sexual Character: Sex, Gender, and National by Miriam G. Reumann

By Miriam G. Reumann

Whilst Alfred Kinsey's huge reports Sexual habit within the Human Male and Sexual habit within the Human lady seemed in 1948 and 1953, their exact information spurred an extraordinary public dialogue of the nation's sexual practices and ideologies. As they debated what behaviors have been general or usual, irregular or deviant, chilly warfare american citizens additionally celebrated and scrutinized the country in their kingdom, bearing on obvious alterations in sexuality to shifts in its political constitution, financial system, and folks. American Sexual personality employs the reports and the myriad responses they evoked to ascertain nationwide debates approximately sexuality, gender, and Americanness after international conflict II. concentrating on the mutual development of postwar principles approximately nationwide id and sexual existence, this wide-ranging, intelligent, and energetic research explores the numerous makes use of to which those intercourse surveys have been positioned at a time of utmost anxiousness approximately sexual habit and its results at the nation.

Looking at actual and perceived alterations in masculinity, girl sexuality, marriage, and homosexuality, Miriam G. Reumann develops the suggestion of "American sexual character," sexual styles and attitudes that have been understood to be uniquely American and to mirror modern changes in politics, social lifestyles, gender roles, and tradition. She considers how obvious shifts in sexual habit formed the nation's offices, houses, and households, and the way those will be associated with racial and sophistication adjustments.

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Extra resources for American Sexual Character: Sex, Gender, and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports

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66 In this narrative, as in a host of similar analyses of postwar American life, inappropriate sexual urges and behaviors represent the flip side of the American Dream. The Split-Level Trap—promoted as “a Kinsey Report on 36 chapter one suburbia”—suggests that affluence could not protect Americans from danger. The kind of sexuality that concerned the Gordons and other social scientists was not one that affected individual bodies so much as it targeted something broader. Experts feared that sexuality was taking on a preeminent role in the national consciousness, shaping not only the ways in which Americans thought but also what they did and with whom.

Rates of venereal disease and premarital pregnancy did rise during the war years and may have reflected increased sexual contacts and changes in patterns of dating and mating. Explorations of 28 chapter one homosexual lives during the war, for example, suggest that geographical and job mobility offered many gay men and lesbians increased opportunities to meet potential partners and to learn about homosexuality. Overall, Kinsey’s work points to slow and gradual shifts in sexual behavior during the first half of the twentieth century rather than any sudden and dramatic leaps; but whatever the extent of actual change, Americans believed that sexual behaviors had accelerated and taken on new forms in recent years, and they searched for explanations and solutions.

The reports catalyzed a massive national project to examine and explain sex. Although Kinsey’s exact figures were hotly contested, other medical professionals and scientists also documented rates of sexual activity that shocked and alarmed readers. Sexologists believed that premarital and extramarital heterosexual intercourse were on the rise, and that many Americans’ accustomed range of sexual practices was also expanding. 32 Statistics on same-sex sexuality offered further evidence of upheavals in Americans’ sexual behavior.

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