Trends in sexual behavior

In post-World War II America, social norms prohibited sex outside of marriage (Heer and Grossbard-Schectman, 1981). The Kinsey studies (Kinsey et al., 1953, 2006) of the 1940s and 1950s, however, suggested that Americans were engaging in a wide range of sexual activities. Three of Kinsey's most surprising findings were the frequent use of prostitutes by married (10-20 percent) and unmarried (70 percent) men, the prevalence of homosexual activities (37 percent of males and 13 percent of females had had at least one homosexual experience in their lifetimes), and the substantial rate of extramarital affairs. Kinsey's studies hinted at an American public that was not necessarily abiding by strict social expectations. The extent to which basic expectations about sexual behavior were adjusted in the years following Kinsey's research is discussed next.

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