Whatever the Kinsey Institute says, understanding the true purpose of sexuality requires far more than lessons in biology.

If ignorance is bliss, when it comes to sex we must be absolutely ecstatic. At least that is what one recent poll might suggest.

Nearly 2,000 persons participated in a survey conducted by the Roper Organization, which sought to ascertain what we know about sex. The results are included in the Kinsey Institute’s New Report on Sex: What You Must Know to be Sexually Literate (St. Martin’s Press). The findings surprised us. No one answered all 18 questions correctly. Less than half (45%) of the respondents could answer correctly even as many as half of the questions.

The survey included topics such as the frequency of some kinds of sexual behaviors, the average size of sex organs, and inquiries related to conception and contraception. The respondents were not asked about their own practices or experience but rather what they believed was true of people in general. The researchers asked interviewees what they knew, not what they did. The results pointed to widespread ignorance and misinformation.

The Kinsey Institute staff, after calling attention to this dismal sexual illiteracy revealed by the Roper study, devote the majority of their 540-page New Report to telling us more than most anyone could want or need to know about matters of sexuality.

On the one hand, we find it ironic that a society so “sexually active” could be so uninformed. With the sensuous and sexual so prominent in our cultural life, including the advertising we heed and the entertainments we increasingly choose, how can it be that Americans don’t “know the score”?

Part of the explanation could be the ...

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