In which I reconstruct sexuality

So, one of the really interesting works on sexuality (and more notably bisexuality) is the Kinsey Scale. While being an excellent example of forward-thinking classification that came about from excellent research into homo- and bisexuality in both men and women. However, it’s old- it was first published in 1948, and it doesn’t really delve deep into the issues surrounding sexuality.

The Klein Grid expands upon the the Kinsey scale and gives a much broader background. It recognises a large number of things which are important to sexuality, including drawing distinctions between (sexual-) orientation and lifestyle, action and ideation, recognising the impact of emotional attraction as well as physical attraction, the realisation of changing conceptions of sexuality and actions reflecting those conceptions causing him to question people seperately about their past, present, and the ideal future they would like. He also raised the idea of socialisation being as relevant to sexuality as gender is.

In some ways the Klein Grid is excellent, perhaps even too comprehensive- there are seven variables, which each belong to one of two sets of seven answers along the Kinsey scale, and each variable needs an answer for not only the past and the present, but also the ideal future. But I also find Klein’s variables inadequate- for instance, asexuality is completely undefinable on the Klein Grid.

What are the key things we can learn from Klein’s conception of sexuality?  Well, for a start, I would probably rework his variables into something new:

  • Reaction: Are you more likely to react sexually to women or men?
  • Ideation: Are you more likely to fantasise about men or women?
  • Action: Are you more likely to form relationships with or have sex with women or men?
  • Socialisation: Are you more likely to socialise with men or women?
  • Gender identification: Do you see yourself as a woman or a man?
  • Approach: Are you more interested in companionship or sex?
  • Sexual drive: How compelled to have sex, or interested in sex, are you in general?

I personally think that changes in the answers to these questions generally reflect self-attitude or self-discovery rather than fluid sexuality, but perhaps that’s an ideological blindspot of my own. The research on the subject does seem to give credence to the idea that sexuality is something that’s “set”, however1– what it’s set by is an interesting question. The Klein Grid is great for biographical purposes, but in terms of trying to classify sexuality, I think it complicates things needlessly.

I personally think sexual drive is also incredibly important to any discussion of continuous sexuality- people with extremely high sexual drives behave very differently to people with low sexual drives, and of course, there are those with little to no interest in sex. Discussion of sexual drive is largely missing from analysis of sexuality, although it’s been a practical concern to people on the front line of counselling or advice since those professions were first formed.

1And that perceived change in sexuality is actually self-discovery.

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4 Responses

  1. lol, gotta love kinsey.
    though he is surounded in large amounts of controversy. I was planning to do my doctorate partially on an extention of his work before I changed my area of study to forensics instead. lol.
    You seem to dedicate alot of time to this dispite having minimal comments, so I tough I would add one, lol.

  2. I dunno, I think for pro-feminist blogging in New Zealand, I get a few. 😉

    Classifying sexuality is bound to make you controversial whatever conclusion you come to, I think- mainly because sexuality is so taboo and the especially strong taboos have become politicised.

  3. Despite my efforts to sound like a biggot I subscribe to hardly any taboos. What I find most funny is that the gay community in most cases rejects the existance of bisexual and amourous individuals, stating that they are mearly lying to themselves. lol, or atleast thats what me and all my friend of the relivant orientations have found. lol.
    Im not so much a fan of Klein as Kinsey, but together they have alot to contribute if only both hetro and homo communities would accept the valisdity of what they say.

  4. Bigot has one “g”. 🙂

    And yeah, bisexuality gets the cold shoulder sometimes in queer society. Partially it’s because a lot of people (particularly men) are strongly attracted to one sex despite identifying as bisexual- which understandably creates a perception that some of these people were lying to themselves about their sexuality. Sometimes there’s also resentment as most bisexuals can “pass” in either gay or straight society, (or just in straight society) an ability which comes at great cost to some gay men and lesbians.

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