LEARNING ABOUT SEX 3 Major Studies of Sex in Society
Posted Wed Oct 09, 2013 07:04 PM
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In those 33 years leading to the birth of my son in 1977 human sexuality was studied extensively. This prose-poem is a brief survey and summary of the three major studies, and their place in my life both before and after.
The Masters and Johnson research team, composed of William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson, pioneered research into the nature of human sexual response, as well as the diagnosis and treatment of sexual disorders and dysfunctions from 1957 until the 1990s. In 1957 I was just on the puberty cusp and, although I had begun to take a serious interest in sex, my teenage libidinous energies were channeled into sport and school, family and friendships.
The work of Masters and Johnson began in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University in St. Louis and was continued at the independent not-for-profit research institution they founded in St. Louis in 1964, originally called the Reproductive Biology Research Foundation and renamed the Masters & Johnson Institute in 1978.
In the initial phase of Masters and Johnson's studies, from 1957 until 1965, they recorded some of the first laboratory data on the anatomy and physiology of the human sexual response based on direct observation. They studied 382 women and 312 men in what they conservatively estimated to be "10,000 complete cycles of sexual response."
Their findings, particularly on the nature of female sexual arousal; for example, (i) describing the mechanisms of vaginal lubrication and debunking the earlier widely-held notion that vaginal lubrication originated from the cervix, (ii) showing that the physiology of orgasmic response was identical whether stimulation was clitoral or vaginal, and (iii) proving that some women were capable of being multi-orgasmic, dispelled many long standing misconceptions.
They jointly wrote two classic texts in the field, Human Sexual Response and Human Sexual Inadequacy, published in 1966 and 1970 respectively. In 1971, as I was travelling-pioneering for the Canadian Baha’i community to Australia, Masters and Johnson married. I remember reading these two books back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. By 1974 I was a senior tutor in human relations at the, then, Tasmanian College of Advanced Education. I was 30 years old and on my way to the second and final marriage in my lifespan. These two books were among the many that I drew on in that course in human relations which I developed and taught to trainee teachers.
Both of their books were best-sellers and were translated into more than thirty languages. Masters and Johnson were the focus of a television project called Masters of Sex based on a 2009 biography by author Thomas Maier. The American cable network Showtime debuted Masters of Sex, a dramatic television series on 29 September 2013. The series stars Michael Sheen as Masters and Lizzy Caplan as Johnson. I watched the first part on television last night.1 I had not followed the lives of Masters and Johnson since those 1970s and, after 40 years, I was surprised at the developments in their lives and the studies on human sexuality.
Alfred Kinsey(1894-1956) was an American biologist, professor of entomology and zoology, and sexologist. In 1947 he founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University, now known as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction. He is best known for writing Sexual behavior in the Human Male (1948), and Sexual behavior in the Human Female (1953), also known as The Kinsey Reports, as well as The Kinsey Scale.
Kinsey's research on human sexuality, foundational to the field of sexology, provoked controversy in the 1940s and 1950s. His work has influenced social and cultural values in the United States, as well as internationally.2 I came to know of their work by the 1970s but, during the 1940s and 1950s, I was occupied, as I say above, with other matters, other studies, and other aspects of my childhood and adolescent life.
The Hite Report: A Nationwide Study of Female Sexuality, published in 1976, was the final of these three major studies that had come into my reading and interest inventory by the second decade of my young adulthood, a period of time from 20 to 40 according to one model of human development used by psychologists.
Shere Hite(1942- ) is an American-born German sex educator and feminist. She was making the point that clitoral stimulation wasn't happening during coitus. That's why women have difficulty having orgasms. They don't have difficulty when they stimulate themselves. Shouldn't we just rethink the idea of what sex is, and what equality is? That's what Hite wrote and went around the country saying.
Together, these students of human sexuality added immensely to my knowledge-base by the time I entered the late 1970s, and my middle age in the early 1980s. I was, by then, in my second marriage, was involved in raising three children, and teaching about human relationships to post-secondary school students.-Ron Price with thanks to 1SBSONE TV, 8/10/’13 and 10/10/’13, and 2Wikipedia, 9/10/’13.
What is that inner white wonder
which my warrant forged in heat
long ago cannot own? Surely, it
was not the elusive orgasm that
experts said was yours, if only our
seas could meet, and that surging
tenderness could yield some new
harvest that would make all life’s
slings and arrows less outrageous.
As I lean toward you and make my
home in your warm receptivity, you
say my name as if it was your own,
but this is not always so, for barriers
there are which cause separation and
remoteness. My weakness and some
moan reaches out to touch the shore,
but it can not always make it…and I
am stranded out in the great ocean.1
Did Kinsey, Masters, and Hite help
us on our way these past years, these
decades, when we have been together?
Not in the deeper reaches of the spirit
where life’s tests and difficulties often
rub one raw, & leave one seeking some
deeper resolutions and inner harmonies.
1 Roger White, “Coral and Pearls,” The Witness of Pebbles, George Ronald, Oxford, 1982, p.62; and ‘Abdul-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, Baha’i Pub. Trust, Wilmette, 1985, p.106.
Posted Thu Oct 10, 2013 10:58 AM