Chapter

Introduction

Miriam G. Reumann

in American Sexual Character

Published by University of California Press

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780520238350
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520930049 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238350.003.0001
Introduction

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This book analyzes the cultural dynamics and social dilemmas that informed the construction of the American sexual character after the close of World War II. It was originally spurred by the author's curiosity as to why sex surveys repeatedly cropped up in discussions of topics that they apparently had nothing to do with. The book examines the process by which Kinsey's statistical data became cultural narrative. It maps the broader field of American sexual character by looking at themes and tensions in social scientists' and cultural critics' writings about sex in the United States. The book observes the ways in which normative categories such as heterosexuality, masculinity, femininity, and Americanness itself were constructed and questioned. The process chronicles some of the microstruggles that constituted the meaning of sex, including popular responses to the two Kinsey Reports, the changing legal meanings of obscenity, and homosexual activists' negotiation of scientific categories of normalcy and deviance.

Keywords: social dilemmas; Kinsey; heterosexuality; masculinity; femininity

Chapter.  6505 words. 

Subjects: History of the Americas

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