February 9, 2005
By Melissa G. Pardue
Parents who feel embattled by the envelope-pushing entertainment
industry and "non-judgmental" sex education in the schools may not
realize it, but the source of their frustration has a name: Alfred
He's the subject of "Kinsey," a movie from Fox-Searchlight Films
that profiles the man who set the sexual revolution in
In the film, actor Liam Neeson portrays Dr. Kinsey as an embattled
and troubled hero who sought only to help educate America on
matters of human sexuality. But, several graphic scenes aside, the
film largely glosses over some of the most troubling and damaging
aspects of his life and his legacy.
Fox-Searchlight, of course, has every right to produce whatever
movie it wants. And yes, docu-dramas don't pretend to be
straightforward accounts; producers are generally upfront about the
need to dramatize for the sake of an interesting story. The
problem, though, is that too many Americans treat these movies as
though they are reality.
A documentary on the History Channel noted, for example, that many
Americans believe Oliver Stone's conspiracy-minded "JFK" is
established fact, not the dramatization of a theory. "Kinsey" falls
into this category. Although it's not a documentary, it may be
treated as such.
A more accurate depiction of the man can be found among several
books written about Dr. Kinsey. While not for the faint-of-heart,
biographer James Jones' book, "Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private
Life," provides a troubling expose of a man who labored to prove,
among other things, that no "latency" period in childhood exists -
that young boys and girls are fully capable of experiencing sexual
Jones' book, as well as other research on Kinsey, tells the story
the film misses.
Kinsey, trained as a scientist in the field of zoology, is often
credited as the first researcher to use science to address sexual
behavior. But Kinsey's goal was to radically redefine what was
considered normal and abnormal behavior. He succeeded in many
respects - in large measure, ironically enough, because of his
blatant disregard for scientific principles.
You won't learn about this in "Kinsey." For instance, as any
researcher knows, a scientific study must use a "random selection"
model to be considered scientifically accurate and representative
of the population. Kinsey used volunteers.
Kinsey's volunteers were disproportionately comprised of
homosexuals, bisexuals, prostitutes and convicts - more in his
sample than in society as a whole. So unreliable were his sampling
methods that famed psychologist Abraham Maslow, who expressed early
interest in Kinsey's sexuality research, refused to work with him
because of his methods.
Predictably, the lack of a true random sample distorted his
findings. For instance, Kinsey famously claimed that 10 percent of
the general populace is "more or less exclusively" homosexual - 5
percent exclusively gay and 5 percent bisexual. The most recent
National Health and Social Life Survey, by contrast, estimates that
the actual figure is about 1 percent to 3 percent.
Then there are the questions about Kinsey's data-collection
methods. In his books "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male" (1948)
and "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female" (1953), Kinsey cites
"technically trained experts" as the source for his data on
childhood sexual behavior. In particular, the infamous Tables 30
through 34 in his "Male book" - which charted how long it took to
(brace yourself) induce orgasms in children as young as two months
old - featured the research of these "experts."
Today, many knowledgeable experts agree that the source for this
information was a habitual pedophile who kept detailed records on
the hundreds of young boys and girls he had abused over many years.
This character is included in a disturbing-yet-inaccurate scene in
the movie that depicts his link to Kinsey as fleeting and
inconsequential. In reality, Kinsey had a longstanding professional
relationship with this man and included an untold amount of his
records and notes in his "research."
Kinsey's influence also extends far beyond what the film projects.
The organizations that make up today's "safe sex" education
movement can trace their roots to Kinsey. In fact, one "researcher"
who worked alongside Kinsey at his institute at Indiana University,
Wardell Pomeroy, later went on to establish the Sexuality
Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS).
Another Kinsey associate, Mary Calderone, founded the organization
that eventually evolved into Planned Parenthood. The abhorrent
theory that sex at any age is appropriate as long as it is "safe"
is also part of Kinsey's legacy.
Those who are unfamiliar with Alfred Kinsey's work could come away
from "Kinsey" with the impression that he was a self-sacrificing
scientist who helped people become comfortable with their
sexuality. But like much of what comes out of Hollywood, that's
simply fantasy. Too bad the same can't be said of his legacy.
Melissa Pardue is the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Fellow in Social
Welfare Policy at The Heritage Foundation.
First appeared on FoxNews.com
Parents who feel embattled by the envelope-pushing entertainment industry and "non-judgmental" sex education in the schools may not realize it, but the source of their frustration has a name: Alfred Kinsey.
Melissa G. Pardue
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