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Health & Sex

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'50s Sexuality Research Still Causing a Stir

The new movie on controversial sex researcher Alfred Kinsey has sex experts and protesters talking about what he did for human sexuality -- and morality -- in the U.S.

Human Sexuality Research Still Flourishes

So much sexuality research is going on now, she says. "One of the goals that I have that is similar to Kinsey is to demystify elements of sexuality as well as to remove taboos and misunderstandings around sexuality."

Berman recently completed two projects that aim to do just that. The first is a national study of women looking at the health and sexual benefits of sexual aids and devices. "We want to get the conversation started that this is not dirty and embarrassing and that 30% of women are using these devices," she says. According to her work, women who use such aids report higher levels of sexual function and overall quality of life.

The other study is a national survey about how women feel about their genitals and how these feelings impact their sexual life and overall quality of life.

"Higher-educated African-American women have the best genital self-image," she says. "One of the biggest predictors of poor genital self-image is usually based on having a partner who said something negative [about the genitals]," she says.

Genital self-image is connected to overall body image and plays a role in sexual function, Berman says. And "genital self-image is something that most obstetricians don't think to address with patients." Berman's latest project is a big study on the role of vaginal lubricants in younger women.

Casualties Remain

Much of the ire surrounding Kinsey's human sexuality research involves his thoughts on the sexual activity of children. Critics contend that Kinsey's data are based on reports from co-workers who sexually abused more than 300 minors to prove that children 'enjoy' sex with pedophiles. In the "Sexual Behavior in the Human Female," Kinsey reports on sexual activity involving girls younger than age 4. It also indicated that sex between adults and children could be beneficial.

It was later shown that he incorrectly used data from prisoners, prostitutes, pedophiles, and other sexually promiscuous people to explain the behavior of all Americans. These are some of the main reasons that abstinence supporters are planning to protest the movie.

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