Post World War II
Post WWII, the women were back in the homes and as a result, gender roles returned. Alfred Kinsey, an American biologist and professor, started publishing works on sexuality and founded the Institute for Sex Research at Indiana University in 1947, known today as the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction. He’s generally regarded as the first major figure in American sexology, which is the systematic, scientific study of human sexuality. This is because he was one of the first to conduct a large amount of research on human sexuality. Though he has many critics, he’s also undoubtedly commended by many for inquiring about topics that were basically a taboo in his day. Hugh Hefner is another individual who made his mark during this time but instead by publishing the first issue of playboy in December of 1953 which sold out in weeks, for I believe 50cents a copy. Obviously this is a magazine that was targeted towards men, but which today is a brand known by just about everyone and that is published in countries around the world. (Crooks, 2011).
“The only unnatural sexual act is that which you cannot perform.”
– Alfred Kinsey
The chart below (from 2010), demonstrates an example of what the Kinsey Institute today is determined to learn about individuals’ sexual activities. (Click the chart to make bigger)
The video below is a trailer for a movie about Alfred Kinsey that came out in 2004.
“No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother. ”
Another especially important figure during this time period was Margaret Sanger who I have a picture of on the left. She fought for women’s health and for their freedom to make decisions about their bodies, and as a result risked scandal and even imprisonment. She occasionally worked as a nurse which is what initiated her interest in women’s health. She wrote a column entitled, “What Every Girl Should Know”, and began to argue for something that would liberate women from the economic burden of unwanted pregnancies. In 1916, she was arrested 9 days after she opened the nation’s first birth control clinic in Brooklyn. She was actually able to gain publicity through this however and fought even harder to build and fight for a birth control reform movement. In the 1950s, her hard work was recognized when research funding made possible the development of the first effective birth control pill. Margaret founded the International Planned Parenthood Federation in 1952 and served as its first president until 1959. She actually coined the term birth control and established Planned Parenthood which has since grown to have over 820 clinic locations in the U.S., with a total budget of approximately $1 billion dollars. Though she’s a frequent target of criticism by the pro-life movement, she remains an iconic figure still to this day (Simkin).
Crooks, R., & Baur, K. (2011). Our sexuality (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior (NSSHB). Findings from the National Survey of Sexual Health and Behavior, Centre for Sexual Health Promotion, Indiana University. Journal of Sexual Medicine, Vol. 7, Supplement 5.
Simkin, John. Margaret Sanger: Biography. Retrieved from http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/author.htm