Considering the obvious abhorrence with which both the legislative and the judicial branches of our government have dealt with the subject, and the prohibitive penalties prescribed for the assorted nonprocreative acts collected together under the sodomy and "crime-against-nature" statutes (the most severe of any of our laws dealing with sexual activity between consenting adults), it is especially interesting—and significant—to consider how prevalent at least some of this behavior is in our society.
Dr. Kinsey and his researchers found relatively little evidence of heterosexual anal intercourse, either within or outside of marriage, and neither of their first books include any statistics on this behavior. Kinsey did find marked differences in the anal eroticism reported by his subjects, however, and some of the females described sexual responses to anal intercourse that were closely akin to those achieved through vaginal coitus. More current research prompts the Sex Institute to estimate that approximately four percent of the adult male population has attempted, and three percent successfully accomplished, anal heterosexual intercourse; these statistics are a preliminary study, however, and no educational breakdown is presently available; consistent with Kinsey's previous findings, it is to be assumed that the percentage among upper-level, college-educated males will be somewhat higher than this overall average. A number of experts in sexual behavior, including Dr. Lawrence Z. Freedman, of the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago, consider these percentages to be low; Dr. Freedman states, "My impression is that both female homosexual experience and male anality are probably underestimated in these [Kinsey's and his Sex Institute's] figures."
In contrast to anal intercourse, however, Kinsey found oral-genital sex—also a considered a "crime against nature" in most states—quite common among males and females, married and unmarried.
Kinsey reports, "Mouth-genital contacts of some sort, with the subject as either the active or the passive member in the relationship, occur at some time in the histories of nearly 60 percent of all males"; in an Accumulative Incidence table for Oral Contacts in Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, by which is meant the sexual experience of the subject up to the time of the interview, Kinsey found that 18.4 percent of the male had premarital heterosexual oral-genital relations of an "active" nature (cunnilingus, performed by the male on the female) and 38.6 percent had "passive" mouth-genital relations prior to marriage (fellatio, performed on the male by the female); however, the American husband apparently believes it is better to give than to receive, or is less sexually repressed than his spouse, as approximately 45.3 percent of the married males engage in cunnilingus with their wives, while 42.7 percent experience fellatio.
As with most sexual activity, educational background plays an important role in determining the extent of oral-genital activity that accompanies the sex act, with cunnilingus and fellatio far more common among upper-educated males than among their less-educated brothers. Among those males who have never gone beyond eighth grade in school, the accumulative incidence for mouth-genital contacts of any kind is 40 percent; for those males with an education limited to high school, the incidence is 65 percent; and for those with some college, the percentages rise to 72.
Fifteen percent of all U.S. females have some mouth-genital contact prior to marriage and, as might be expected, Kinsey found a high correlation between such activity prior to marriage and the extent of premarital intercourse engaged in by his female subjects: Among the younger women in the study who had not engaged in premarital coitus, "only three percent had allowed the male to touch their genitalia orally.... But among those females who had had some, even though not extensive coital experience, 46 percent had accepted such contacts...."
Oral stimulation of the male by the female follows the same general pattern, though the incidence is slightly lower. On this Kinsey comments, "Often the female makes such contacts only because she is urged to do so by the male, but there are a few females who initiate such activity and some who may be much aroused by it. A few may even reach orgasm as they stimulate the male orally. This greater inclination of the human male toward oral activity is duplicated among other species of mammals. Contrary to our earlier thinking, we now understand that there are basic psychologic differences between the sexes; and although cultural traditions may also be involved, the differences in oral behavior may depend primarily on the greater capacity of the male to be stimulated psychologically."
Among married women, approximately 50 percent have some mouth-genital contact, either active or passive, with their husbands; Kinsey's report on the Female does not include any classification by educational background, but it is to be assumed that the pattern already established would hold true and that females with a higher education would also display a markedly higher incidence of both premarital and marital activity of an oral-genital nature.
One of Kinsey's most interesting findings related to oral eroticism has to do with the date of birth of his subjects—a comparison of the incidence of this activity among both the males and females of the present and previous generations. Quite clearly the public attitude toward such behavior has changed radically during the past 50 years and what was once considered "perversion" is now recognized and accepted throughout much of our society as both natural and good; such a lessening of the taboos connected with this sexual activity might be expected to produce a noticeable increase in the activity itself.
In addition, the antisexual might argue that the prevalence of such "sophisticated" nonreproductive variations on the sexual theme offers evidence of a sexually jaded society that requires such "abnormal" psychosexual stimulation, because the unnatural contemporary obsession with the subject has dulled our capacity to appreciate sex and be aroused by it in its simpler forms.
It is significant to note, therefore, that in the accumulative-incidence tables in both the Male and Female studies, the oral-genital activity is relatively the same for the past and present generations. Society's publicly proclaimed attitude on the subject has undergone a dramatic change, but the actual private behavior of the individual has remained almost constant. There were, as we have pointed out, significant variations based upon educational background, but for both male and females of similar education in this and the previous generations, born in each decade back to 1900, Kinsey comments, "There were surprisingly few differences...."
This fact is important, we feel, both in establishing the essential naturalness of the behavior itself and in pointing out how relatively ineffective social and legal taboos are in suppressing natural sexuality.
The same oral and anal techniques may be used to introduce variety and additional pleasure into a heterosexual relationship are the primary means of sexual gratification in homosexual associations.
As we have already stated, none of the U.S. statutes dealing with sodomy and/or "the abominable and detestable crime against nature" make any distinction between the heterosexual or homosexual practice of such activities. In the enforcement of laws, however, a disproportionately high percent of sodomy arrests and convictions involve homosexual contacts—presumably because a heterosexual cop and a heterosexual judge find a homosexual crime against nature a good deal more "abominable and detestable" than a heterosexual one.
We confess to a strong personal prejudice in favor of the boy-girl variety of sex, but our belief in a free, rational and humane society demands a tolerance of those whose sexual inclinations are different from our own—so long as their activity is limited to consenting adults in private and does not involve either minors or the use of any kind of coercion. Lenny Bruce expressed our viewpoint with typical satiric bite and insight when he said: "I'm not prejudiced against homosexuals, but I wouldn't want my brother to marry one."
Actually, we Americans are—as a nation—more intolerant of homosexuality than almost any other country in the world; Dr. Alfred Kinsey states, in Sexual Behavior in the Human Female: "There appears to be no other major culture in the world in which public opinion and the statute law so severely penalize homosexual relationships as they do in the United States today." You can call an American male a scoundrel and a thief with less chance of eliciting an emotional response than if you simply question his manhood.
The American male's concern over his masculinity amounts to an obsession. And as we have observed on our consideration of the history of antisex in our culture, such an obsession usually represents a repressed fear. We will explore a bit later, in some detail, the degree to which this fear for our manhood is justified in contemporary U.S. society: We will attempt to trace the trends in our society that are responsible for this drift toward the asexual; and we will point out the extent to which the censor and the prude concentrate their most vigorous attacks on the heterosexual aspects of our culture, leaving the asexual, homosexual, sadomasochistic and fetishtic to flourish.
Quite obviously, however, any attempts society may make to legislate homosexuality out of existence are doomed to certain failure and are actually more inclined to perpetuate and encourage sexual deviation than diminish it.
To whatever extent homosexuality—an erotic attraction to members of the same sex rather than the opposite sex—represents an emotional disorder, it must be dealt with psychiatrically; you do not successfully treat a neurosis by passing a law against its symptoms. In addition, homosexual behavior is not necessarily symptomatic of any emotional aberration; far too great a percentage of our adult population have engaged in some form of homosexual activity at some time in their lives to permit it to be scientifically defined as abnormal.
Kinsey points out that homosexual contacts occur frequently in all other species of animal life and except for the strong cultural taboos affixed to such behavior, the incidence would presumably be equally high among human beings. Kinsey states that a perfectly normal man or woman may be erotically attracted to, or aroused by, a member of the same sex; and prolonged separation from the opposite sex (as in prison or some assignments in the armed services) may significantly increase these homosexual responses. Judge Morris Ploscowe states, in Sex and the Law: "Whenever men are isolated from women, or women from men, from any length of time, homosexual relationships and activity inevitably develop."