Measuring Sex

  • Jacinthe FloreEmail author


This chapter examines the works of Alfred Charles Kinsey, and William H. Masters and Virginia E. Johnson in the development of sexual science in the twentieth century. It analyses the way in which Kinsey utilised statistics and the concept of averages in his research on human sexuality. It argues that sexual appetite conditioned how statistical data was used in the Kinsey studies. The Kinsey team mobilised questions of “how much?” and “how often?” to produce graphs on which sexual appetite could be counted and mapped. Turning to the work of Masters and Johnson and the use of techniques of observation and measurement in the creation of norms of sexual behaviour, the chapter explores how the researchers further opened sexual activity to scientific investigation. Their work cemented norms of sexual appetite, presenting both the necessity of perfecting techniques to achieve pleasure and the norm to which individuals should aspire. This chapter thus contends that the works of Kinsey, and Masters and Johnson were important for reifying concepts of averages and norms, and for developing techniques for the measurement of sexual appetite.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Royal Melbourne Institute of TechnologyMelbourneAustralia

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