Nature rarely deals with discrete categories:” The Kinsey(s) & the Ghosts of Sexualwissenschaft


This poster argues that argues that Kinsey was very influenced by Magnus Hirschfeld’s ISR and the categories that it created. In organizing the library, it (Alfred Kinsey and KI) according to Donna Drucker, ‘used taxonomic skill to create new forms of classification. And Ideas of objectivity and the research practices that enact those ideas are historically contingent.’ They separated BDSM from all other forms of sexual representation and experience. This is something that Gebhard continually revisited. as Melissa Adler tells us The consequences of classification and power structures is the production of ‘masochistic users.’ In talking about the SM collection at the KI, Jennifer Yamashiro makes the point that ‘Category is the key to the organization… Consequently, contemporary visitors to the Kinsey Institute may compare [it] to a web…because of the extensive taxonomic attention given to [it].’ I then draw on Samantha Allen’s thesis about affective theories of sexuality which “prefer description and interrogation to categorization and taxonomization’ to argue that fetish development requires a certain threshold of materials & community to be ‘created’ Additionally, I note that - * 19thC ‘catalogomania’ that produced LCSH also produced the classifications and interiorities that social sciences presume to measure * Sexology’s history has two repeated compulsions - (1)creation of archives of human evidence (2)the taxonomization of that evidence * The categories become ‘identities’ or ‘orientations;’ then are adopted by the public and are carried forward by respect du fonds and the alignment of bodies. Initial research suggests that the internal classification of the “SM collection” helped to establish the fledging subculture as a significant category of human sexual orientation in the eyes of the Kinsey researchers. Paul H. Gebhard’s academic interest in the subculture “throughout the decades resulted in his 1969 “Fetishism and Sadomasochism” article, oft-cited by kink historians

Granada, Spain, Europe
sexology science Alfred C. Kinsey Kinsey institute
Brian M. Watson
Archivist, Historian, Knowledge Organizer

I’m an archivist, a public historian, an author, a researcher, and a knowledge organizer.