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Richard Doty

Jennifer Bass
Kinsey Institute

Last modified: Wednesday, November 13, 2002

Kinsey Institute to celebrate 50th anniversary of landmark book on women's sexuality

Magazine covers and news clippings about Alfred Kinsey's 1953 bestseller, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, will be featured in the opening event for a year-long series of programs at Indiana University marking the book's 50th anniversary. Popularly referred to as The Kinsey Report, its publication and the media frenzy that followed forever changed the way the world viewed women's sexuality.

Entitled "Oh! Dr. Kinsey!: Media Reaction to the Kinsey Report on Women," the exhibition includes magazine covers or prominent mention from Time, Reader's Digest, U.S. News & World Report, Harper's, Redbook, Newsweek, Cosmopolitan, Life, Colliers, Argosy, Today's Woman and Modern Bride. The exhibition title comes from a humorous illustrated paperback about the contents of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, whose main author was the founder of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction at IU.

"The publication of this book became a huge media event," said institute curator Catherine Johnson. "The revelations and implications of the Kinsey volume spurred amusement, outrage and every reaction in between. The general public was well aware of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, even if they weren't always familiar with the contents, because every major mainstream publication had something to say about it."

The exhibition opens Feb. 1 and runs through April 30 at the Monroe County Historical Museum in Bloomington. The original researchers who contributed to The Kinsey Report will be honored at an opening reception on Feb. 1.

Throughout 2003 the institute will present educational, artistic and scientific events and programs to commemorate the anniversary of the historic book. "Women's Sexualities: Portrayals and Perspectives" is the theme for the year's activities.

"This is an important time to be considering, and reconsidering, the sexuality of women," said John Bancroft, director of the institute. "There is considerable ongoing debate and controversy about the nature of female sexuality and sexual problems. Fifty years after Kinsey's volume, the importance of conceptualizing women's sexuality in female terms is increasingly clear. And the events we are planning for the year reflect that woman-centered approach."

Reflecting the interdisciplinary mission of the institute, the events include art exhibitions, film and theater presentations, discussions about cross-cultural differences, lectures by key scientists and social commentators and public events highlighting institute research. Events will be sponsored by numerous Indiana University departments, community organizations and international groups.

The highlights will include:

* A keynote address by noted feminist Gloria Steinem, Feb. 6.

* Art exhibit "Feminine Persuasion," Feb. 14-March 14.

* Panel discussion on "Current Research on Women's Sexuality," March 6.

* Film festival "Under the Radar: Women in the Cinema in the Kinsey era," Feb. 14-23.

* Conference on "Women's Sexualities: Historical, Interdisciplinary and International Perspectives," Nov. 14-15.

For more information on the 50th anniversary events, phone 812-855-7686 or visit the Kinsey Web site at