The Kinsey Scale of Sexuality: Are We All Bisexual?

Many cognitive psychologists believe that human beings clearly tend to perceive and interpret reality in the simplest way possible.

According to this vision of our mind, we like to categorize things into good and badWe judge people very quickly in the first few minutes, we get to know them, and we only consider nuances in special cases, when the situation demands it.

Kinsey scale: reformulating our sexual orientation

When it comes to considering the sexual condition of people, we consider two categories: homosexuality and heterosexuality, which can be combined to form bisexuality. But …to what extent is this way of classifying sexual tendencies true to reality? Is there such a clear and resounding differentiation between homosexuality and heterosexuality?

A man named Alfred Kinsey break this dualistic conception of sexual orientations by proposing a model according to which there are many intermediate degrees between heterosexuality and homosexuality. This graduality was embodied in what is now called Kinsey scale.

Questioning dichotomous sexuality

Feminism and gender studies associated with anthropology strongly defend the idea that, historically, sexual orientation has been understood as something understandable from two positions: heterosexuality and homosexuality, being the one denial of the other. These two sexual options would be inventions, artifacts created by culture and not supported in biology.

However, during the first half of the 20th century, biologist and sex therapist Alfred Kinsey inflicted serious wounds on this dichotomous conception of sexuality. The reasons? For 15 years, he conducted an in-depth study that led him to conclude that the ideas of homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual are too narrow and limiting.

Put simply, the people he included in his research don’t fit easily into heterosexual patterns: Intermediate states of sexual orientation are much more common than expected. So, according to Kinsey, there is a whole range of sexual orientation, a scale of varying degrees from pure heterosexuality to pure homosexuality, passing through various categories in between.

In short, the Kinsey scale broke the qualitative classification to delve into a quantitative description in which things are measured when temperature is measured with a thermometer. The idea is that we can all have a bisexual part, more or less obvious, And that this, rather than defining our identity, is a simple preference with thresholds or limits not always too clear.

The History of the Kinsey Scale

If this conception of sexuality is provocative today, you can imagine what the defense of the Kinsey scale meant in the 40s and 50s. The study, which was based on thousands of questionnaires sent to a wide variety of men and women, sparked much controversy and met with strong opposition from conservative institutions. However, it was precisely this that caused his ideas to spread rapidly around the world and his writings and thoughts to be translated into many languages.

The so-called Kinsey Report, divided into the books Sexual Behavior of Men (1948) and Sexual Behavior of Women (1953), published data that questioned what was known about human sexuality and sexuality at the time. the very nature of the genre.

Based on information provided by 6,300 men and 5,940 women, Kinsey concluded that pure heterosexuality is extremely rare or, directly, almost non-existent., And that it should only be taken as an abstract concept that served to build a ladder with two ends. The same is true for pure homosexuality, although this idea is not so unacceptable for obvious reasons.

This meant that male and female identities had been constructed as part of a fiction and that many behaviors considered “deviant” were in fact normal.

How is this scale?

The staircase designed by Kinsley has 7 levels of heterosexuality to homosexuality, And includes the category in which people who do not experience sexuality would go.

These diplomas are as follows:

  1. exclusively heterosexual

  2. Mainly heterosexual, secondarily homosexual.

  3. Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual.

  4. Also homosexual and heterosexual.

  5. Predominantly homosexual, rather than incidentally heterosexual.

  6. Predominantly homosexual, incidentally heterosexual.

  7. Exclusively gay.

X. Despite having sex.

Another view of the human mind

The Kinsey Scale at the time offered a different perspective on what the human mind is, especially when it comes to sexuality. Traditionally, the sexual division of labor and gender roles they fostered a very dichotomous view of what it means to be a man and a womanAnd this line of research has called into question such a closed classification.

Therefore, over the years, gender studies have taken the influences of this scale to indicate the extent to which hetero-normativity, which places heterosexuality at the center of what is considered normal, is too much of a social construct. simplistic and unjustified, which serves to exert social pressure. on minorities outside of this standardized sexual orientation.

The Kinsey scale, today

Kinsey didn’t make a seven-degree scale because he believed that number of steps reflected how sexuality works, but because he thought it was a good way to measure something that is actually fluid and has no discontinuities.

This is why his work has had a strong impact on Western philosophy, changing the way we understand sexual orientations and having a positive impact on movements for equality and the fight against discrimination against homosexual people. However, the debate about the nature of sexual orientations and whether it is practical to understand them as a continuum or as watertight categories is still alive and well.

In fact, this debate has not been purely scientific, as the social and political implications of the Kinsey scale of sexuality make it an ideological tool.

Conservatives see it as a threat to traditional nuclear family values ​​and a tool of gender ideology (although in reality the Kinsey scale can be defended without attributing to this pattern of thinking) and LGTBI groups see a good conceptual framework from which sexuality can be studied less rigidly than usual.

Changing the approach to the study of homosexuality

In addition, this scale of sexual orientations minimizes the idea of ​​pure homosexuality and heterosexuality, reducing them to entelechy, which it reduces social pressure to fit into these two categories. Either way, the Kinsey scale helped set a precedent; the phenomenon to be studied is no longer homosexuality, seen as an anomaly or a deviation from what was considered “natural”.

Now, what is being investigated is how homosexuality and heterosexuality interact, the relationship that exists between the two. Previously, only a rarity was studied, but today we have to understand a two-pole continuum.

Either way, it should be clear that Kinsey’s research was fraught with limitations and was conducted using methodologies that would today be rejected; this is partly to be expected, since this researcher was the son of his time, and many of the debates which made it possible to improve the quality of behavioral science studies had not yet taken place when he developed its scale. What remains today is the idea that sexual orientations cannot be categorized into hermetic categories, and that their boundaries are fuzzy and to some extent unpredictable.

Bibliographical references:

  • Bullough, VL (2004). Gender will never be the same: contributions from Alfred C. Kinsey. Sexual behavior files. 33 (3): 277-286.
  • Galupo, MP (2014). Reflections on Sexual Minorities on the Kinsey Scale and Klein’s Sexual Orientation Grid: Conceptualization and Measurement. Bisexuality Journal. 14 (3-4): 404-432.
  • Kinsey, AC, Pomery, WB; Martin, CE (1948). Sexual behavior in human humans. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
  • Rosario, M .; Schrimshaw, E .; Hunter, J .; Braun, L. (2006). Development of sexual identity among young lesbians, gays and bisexuals: consistency and evolution over time. Journal of Sex Research. 43 (1): pages 46 to 58.
  • Ruse, M. (1988). Homosexuality: a philosophical investigation. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

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