“An Age of Sexual Ambiguity”

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:
“An Age of Sexual Ambiguity”

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One of the biggest surprises of sexual behavior was how many American men had had sex with other men. Kinsey found that nearly 40 percent of his male subjects had experienced homosexual sex “to the point of orgasm,” and among men who remained unmarried until the age of thirty-five, this increased to 50 percent. Americans had a long history of concern about homosexuality. Same-sex sexual acts in the early republic had been seen as a legal and often a moral transgression, and after the emerging science of sex “discovered” the homosexual as a species in the late nineteenth century, surveillance and discussion of homosexuals increased. Homosexuality troubled postwar discussions of American politics and culture. Its meaning seemed to be shifting as the homosexual emerged, as many phrased it, from his or her place “in the shadows” to become a visible presence in the wake of wartime social changes.

Keywords: homosexual sex; orgasm; moral transgression; wartime social changes; surveillance

Chapter.  13130 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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