Thursday, January 10, 2013

Kinsey (part 3/7): Pioneering Sex Researchers before Kinsey

Those Who Came Before


Kinsey wasn’t the first sexologist in history. The field of sexology had other pioneers who made important contributions to science. Some were physicians turned sex researchers, others were early gay rights activists. The German-Hungarian writer, Karoly Maria Kertbeny (a.k.a. Karl Maria Benkert, 1824 – 1882) coined the terms homosexuality and heterosexuality in a letter he wrote to Carl Westphal (1833 –1890). Carl Westphal was a physician who wrote an article in 1869 in the Archiv fűr Psychiatrie und Nervenkrankheiten (Archive of Psychiatry und Nerve Diseases) asking for the scientific study of socially stigmatized sexual behavior (Bullough, Science 38).

The Soviet Union had supported the study of sex lives of students and factory workers in the early 1920s. The Scientific Society for Sexology and Forensic Sexological Expertise was founded and held a conference in Leningrad in 1928. However, once Josef Stalin (1879 -1953) came to power, all research was stamped out (Bullough, Science 168).

In 1909, Magnus Hirschfeld (1868 –1935) published Zeitschrift fűr Sexualwissenschaft (Journal of Sexual Science), the first journal devoted to sexology as a science. Hirschfeld coined the term transvestite in his magnum opus, Die Transvestiten (The Transvestites), which was published in 1910. In 1919, Hirschfeld founded the Institute for Sexual Science in Berlin. In 1921, Hirschfeld organized the International Conference of Sexual Reform Based on Sexual Science, held in Berlin (Bullough, Science 73). In May of 1933, students, Nazi storm troopers and a marching band broke into the Institute and had a public bonfire in which they burned over 10,000 books, articles and files housed in its library (Cocks 48).

Havelock Ellis (1859 – 1939) was a British reformer whose major work was a medical textbook entitled Sexual Inversion (1897), in which he advocated tolerance of homosexuality. A judge declared the book to be obscene and pulled it from the shelves (Bullough, Science 80).

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