Sexual healing

By |2004-11-25T09:00:00-05:00November 25th, 2004|Uncategorized|

Social conservatives across the nation have their panties in a bunch over “Kinsey,” the new biopic of the legendary sex-researcher starring Liam Neeson.
We’ve come a long way since 1948, when Alfred Kinsey published the ground breaking “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” (followed a few years later by “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female”) in which he found that people often have pre- and extra-marital sex and that (gasp!) some people are homosexual. Oh, and that a lot of women like sex. Some even have orgasms (this wasn’t always common knowledge, folks).
This hardly seems shocking (to most) today. Access to information about human sexuality is more available, thanks in large part to the work of Kinsey who was the first to look at sex from a “purely scientific perspective.” However, America’s puritanical roots are buried deep and the public still freaks out about s-e-x.
Those who think sex is evil have always thought Kinsey to be a pioneer in perversion and this film has their moral hearts aquiver all over again.
Morality in Media president Robert Peters called the film “an effort to rehabilitate a ‘father’ of the hellish sexual revolution who has been discredited because of his debauched lifestyle and the misinformation he spread about sex.”
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: Kinsey was not a saint, but he wasn’t a fraud either. The “misinformation” Peters is referring to is basically anything that doesn’t conform to the religious right’s idea of morality, especially their belief that heterosexuality is the only sexuality allowed to exist.
“Kinsey thought that very few people were totally heterosexual,” said Peters, “and in one scene, the film depicts Kinsey as saying that his own sexuality had changed from primarily heterosexual to bisexual. This undermines the lie that sexual orientation cannot be influenced by environment, an environment that includes endless promotions of homosexuality in the secular media.”
Peters is referring to the infamous Kinsey Scale, which goes from 1 to 6. If you’re a 1 you’re exclusively heterosexual, a 6 means exclusively homosexual, and a 3 means you swing both ways.
Peters has done some misinterpretation of his own about the scene in which Kinsey reveals his bisexuality to his assistant Clyde Martin (Peter Sarsgaard), who is also bisexual. Kinsey says that he’s always thought of himself as a 1 on the scale, but over time he has realized that he’s actually a 3. Of course, to anyone who’s anything but heterosexual, this gradual realization is hardly proof that watching Ellen DeGeneres or “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” will make you gay.
Kinsey’s exploration of his bisexuality with Clyde while he is married is a moral question in its own right, but certainly does not discredit his years of pioneering research. Clyde, by the way, eventually beds both Mr. and Mrs. Kinsey (Laura Linney).
One thing that has been proven, however, is that “morality disguised as fact” will make you stupid. “Morality disguised as fact” is what Kinsey calls what passes for sex education of the day and what prompts him begin a course on “marriage” at Indiana University.
After students flood him with questions about sexuality, Kinsey admits he doesn’t know the answers because no one has ever done a scientific study on the matter. No one until Kinsey, that is.
It is difficult to separate the sensationalism of the subject from the film, but “Kinsey” has already garnered Oscar nomination whisperings. Neeson is spot-on down to the haircut as Kinsey with a strong supporting cast, but Director Bill Condon paints Kinsey’s story with a very wide brush, and parts of the film seem too pat and tidy or are just not developed enough, like how Kinsey’s relationship with his own son seems to echo the poor relationship he had with his own religious fanatic father (a fierce John Lithgow who preaches about immoral inventions such as the zipper, which allows males “speedy access to moral oblivion”). An entire film could have been made about Kinsey’s wife swapping research team alone.
But “Kinsey” is a good introduction to the man, his work, and the impact he had on society. The man certainly had his failings, but he is largely responsible for making sex something that could actually be discussed and studied, not just whispered and wondered about.
Of course, with the religious right’s demand today for abstinence-only sex education and their refusal to acknowledge gay and lesbian relationships, “morality disguised as fact” is making a very scary comeback. One can only hope that this film reminds everyone how far we’ve come and build resistance to the slide back toward ignorance.

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