Can a 90 year old masturbate?

SEX IN RESEARCH: 90 percent masturbate, 30 percent cheat: 70 years of the Kinsey Report

SEX IN RESEARCH: 90 percent masturbate, 30 percent cheat: 70 years of the Kinsey Report

Alfred Kinsey was the first scientist to study human sex life 70 years ago. He proved that masturbation, affairs and homosexuality are not obscene, but normal - and broke even because of it.

Katja Fischer De Santi

The man who always wore a bow tie and jacket and whose thoroughness was legendary, this man has done more for sexual liberation than all the hippies put together. Because the zoologist Alfred C. Kinsey realized after his failed wedding night that he knew everything about the mating behavior of gall wasps, but had no idea what was going on with Homo sapiens below the belt. So Alfred Kinsey began to get to the bottom of human sexuality with his own thoroughness. Before him, 10,000 Americans dropped their pants in the 1940s. The result appeared in 1948 and had the dry title: "Sexual Behavior in the Human Male". A monumental work that first shocked the world and then changed it. Time Magazine called the study a “social atomic bomb”.

90 percent masturbate, 30 percent cheat

To date, the Kinsey Reports are the most complex project in the history of sexology. And still spark debates. Kinsey was able to show statistics on how many men masturbate (92 percent) and have sex outside of marriage (up to 37 percent) or how many have sex with their peers (37 percent of men have had homosexual experiences) or with animals (one percent). And this at a time when homosexuality was a criminal offense in many places and masturbation was viewed as a mortal sin.

Kinsey and his co-workers sped across the United States with the energy of missionaries. They interviewed cowherd men, postmen, assembly line workers and teachers. But they also opened the doors to gay clubs and brothels. And they were thorough. The questionnaire comprised more than 500 points. Masturbation, homosexuality, orgasms, anal sex, oral sex. Kinsey didn't know any taboo subjects. Out of his thoroughly contestable biological worldview, Kinsey believed that nothing that occurs in the animal kingdom should be considered unnatural in the human animal. It is thanks to Kinsey that sexual behavior on the fringes of statistical normality is no longer termed "abnormal" but rather "rare". Kinsey's studies were enthusiastically shared in gay circles. They were the longed-for, empirically supported legitimation of homosexual love.

Kinsey also interviewed children, prostitutes, ex-inmates

But the critical voices have not died down to this day. From the outset, Kinsey was accused of unrepresentative choices: too many ex-prisoners (25 percent), too many male prostitutes (5 percent). In addition, he only wanted to verify his own bisexual inclination. His biographer James H. Jones described in detail what the master was up to behind closed curtains: group sex, homosexual adventures. The professor is said to have left little out. For conservative forces today, as then, it was a hit to discredit his research. When a film about Alfred Kinsey's life was released in 2005, religious associations called for a boycott of the film studio. Groups like “Focus on Family” protested again in 2018 against government-sponsored research projects in the field of sexuality. Kinsey suffered from enormous criticism all his life. When he brought out the volume "The Sexual Behavior of Women" in 1953, great indignation broke out. The American public reacted with hatred of the figures that showed that women are sexual beings: 62 percent of US women have already masturbated, Kinsey says, 90 percent practiced petting, 50 percent had premarital intercourse. These statements first cost him his research funding, then kill him. Kinsey died of a heart attack three years after his last report was published. After all, he had gone from being a researcher to being the hunted.

"Teens are often bisexual"

Stefanie Spahni *, are the Kinsey reports still relevant in sex science?

Yes, Kinsey's data set with over 10,000 respondents is regularly referred to in research even today.

What about the criticism that Kinsey's sample of respondents was not representative?

Kinsey interviewed an above-average number of prostitutes and ex-inmates. But even after the data set was corrected by his successors at the Kinsey Institute, the numbers remained practically identical.

The statement that more than a third of men have had homosexual experiences is particularly questioned.

This number is correct if you factor in not just traffic, but kisses and touch as well. Many teenagers have their first sexual experiences with same-sex friends. This is still a taboo today. Our sexuality does not move in clear categories, it is a continuum.

How do you explain that the report on women's sex life caused so much more outrage than the one on men?

Kinsey made public that women masturbate, that they live lust, that they are sexually active beings. That was an affront for men. Sex was something men did to women. Men were responsible for the sexual satisfaction of women. An image that is still caught in many minds today. We are all responsible for our own pleasure or displeasure.

What do you see as Kinsey's greatest achievement?

Kinsey is one of the founding fathers of sexology. With his studies he has shown how versatile human sex life is. That broke a spell. Incidentally, there is still no comparable data in Switzerland.

* Stefanie Spahni is co-director of the Master of Arts in Sexology in Uster.