In a scene from the movie “Kinsey,” opening in theaters on Friday, government agents seize a box of study materials being shipped by Dr. Alfred C. Kinsey, the pioneering sex researcher, and impound the contents as obscene.

The scene portrays a time in American history, the 1940’s and 1950’s, when marital relations were rarely discussed and frank reporting about sex was greeted with a collective anxiety verging on horror. In 1948, when Dr. Kinsey published “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male,” he was called a pervert, a menace and even a Communist.



Much has changed in the years since then. But scientists say one thing has remained constant: Americans’ ambivalence about the scientific study of sexuality.



Decades after the sexual revolution, sex researchers in the United States still operate in a kind of scientific underground, fearing suppression or public censure. In a culture awash in sex talk and advice in magazines and movies and on daytime TV, the researchers present their findings in coded language, knowing that at any time they, like Dr. Kinsey, could be held up as a public threat.



Social scientists say that for all its diverse tastes and freedoms, the nation that invented Viagra and “Sex and the City” is still queasy about exploring sexual desire and arousal, even when this knowledge is central to protecting the public’s health.



In July 2003, for instance, Congress threatened to shut down several highly regarded sex studies, including one of emotion and arousal, and another of massage parlor workers. And last summer health officials refused to finance a widely anticipated proposal backed by three large universities to support and train students interested in studying sexuality.



More here.

0