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The Kinsey scale of sexuality: are we all bisexual?

The Kinsey scale of sexuality: are we all bisexual?

June 24, 2021

Many cognitive psychologists believe that the human being has a clear tendency to perceive and interpret reality in the simplest possible way.

According to this vision about our mind, we like to classify things into good and bad , we judge people very quickly during the first minutes in which we know them, and we only consider the nuances in special cases, when the situation requires it.

Kinsey scale: reformulating our sexual orientation

When we consider the sexual condition of people, we consider two categories: homosexuality and heterosexuality, which can be combined to form bisexuality. But nevertheless... To what extent is this way of classifying sexual tendencies true to reality? Is there such a clear and definite differentiation between homosexuality and heterosexuality?


A man called Alfred Kinsey He broke this dualistic conception of sexual orientations by proposing a model according to which there are many intermediate degrees between heterosexuality and homosexuality. This gradualism was embodied in what is now known as Kinsey scale .

Questioning dichotomous sexuality

From feminism and gender studies associated with anthropology, the idea that, historically, sexual orientation has been understood as something understandable from two positions: heterosexuality and homosexuality, one being the negation of the other, is defended a lot. These two sexual options would be inventions, artifacts created by culture and not sustained in biology.


However, during the first half of the twentieth century biologist and sexologist Alfred Kinsey inflicted serious injuries to this dichotomous conception of sexuality. The motives? For 15 years, he conducted an extensive study that led him to conclude that the ideas of homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual are too corseted and limiting .

Quite simply, the people he included in his research did not easily fit into the patterns of heterosexuality: the intermediate states of sexual orientation were much more frequent than expected. Thus, according to Kinsey, there is a whole range of sexual orientation, a scale of various degrees ranging from pure heterosexuality to pure homosexuality, passing through several intermediate categories.

In short, the Kinsey scale shattered the qualitative classification to enter a quantitative description in which things are measured as the temperature is measured with a thermometer. The idea is that we can all have a bisexual part, more or less obvious , and that, rather than defining our identity, is a simple preference with thresholds or limits that are not always too clear.


The history of the Kinsey scale

If this conception of sexuality is provocative today, you can imagine what the defense of the Kinsey scale meant during the 40s and 50s . The study, which was based on thousands of questionnaires passed on to a wide variety of men and women, raised a great controversy and aroused harsh opposition from conservative institutions. However, precisely that made his ideas spread quickly throughout the world, and his writings and reflections were translated into many languages.

The so-called Kinsey report, divided into the books Sexual Behavior of Man (1948) and Sexual Behavior of Women (1953), threw out data that at that time questioned what was known about human sexuality and the very nature of gender.

Based on the information given by 6,300 men and 5,940 women, Kinsey concluded that pure heterosexuality is extremely rare or, directly, almost non-existent , and that should only be taken as an abstract concept that would serve to build a scale with two extremes. The same thing happened with pure homosexuality, although this idea was not so unacceptable for obvious reasons.

This meant that the masculine and feminine identity had been constructed as part of a fiction, and that many behaviors that were considered "deviant" were, in fact, normal.

How is this scale?

The scale devised by Kinsley has 7 levels of heterosexuality to homosexuality , and includes the category in which people who do not experiment with sexuality would go.

These degrees are the following:

0. Exclusively heterosexual

1. Predominantly heterosexual, incidentally homosexual.

2. Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual.

3. Equally homosexual and heterosexual.

4. Predominantly homosexual, rather than incidentally heterosexual.

5. Predominantly homosexual, incidentally heterosexual.

6. Exclusively homosexual.

X. No sex.

Another conception of the human mind

Kinsey's scale offered at the time a different perspective on what the human mind is, specifically in relation to sexuality. Traditionally the sexual division of labor and gender roles have favored a very dichotomous vision of what it means to be a man and a woman , and this line of investigation questioned this very closed classification.

Therefore, over the years, gender studies have taken the influences of this scale to indicate to what extent heteronormativity, which places heterosexuality at the center of what is considered normal, is a social construction that is too simplifying and unjustified, which serves to exert social pressure on minorities located outside this normalized sexual orientation.

The Kinsey scale, today

Kinsey did not make a scale of seven degrees because he believed that this number of steps reflected the functioning of sexuality, but because I thought it was a good way to measure something that is actually fluid and has no discontinuities .

That is why his work had a strong impact on Western philosophy, changing our way of understanding sexual orientations and having a positive impact on movements for equality and the fight against discrimination against homosexual people. However, the debate about what is the nature of sexual orientations and whether it is practical to understand them as a continuum or as stagnant categories is still very much alive.

In fact, this debate has not been a purely scientific one, since the social and political implications of the Kinsey scale of sexuality make it seen as an ideological tool.

Conservatives consider that it is a threat to the values ​​of the traditional nuclear family and a tool of gender ideology (although in reality the Kinsey scale can be defended without being attached to this scheme of thought) and the LGTBI collectives see in it a good conceptual framework from which you can study sexuality in a less rigid way than usual.

Modifying the approach to the study of homosexuality

In addition, this scale of sexual orientations downplays the idea of ​​pure homosexuality and heterosexuality, reducing them to entelechies, which makes the social pressure to fit in these two categories decrease . In any case, the Kinsey scale has helped set a precedent; the phenomenon to be studied is no longer homosexuality, seen as an anomaly or a deviation from what was considered to be "the natural".

Now what is investigated is the way in which homosexuality and heterosexuality interact, the relationship between them. Before, we only studied a rarity, but today what we are trying to understand is a continuum with two poles.


Human Sexuality is Complicated... (June 2021).


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