I’m straight. She’s gay. He’s bisexual. What are you?
Alfred Charles Kinsey, a biologist and psychologist, began studying sexuality sometime between 1938 and 1940. In the course of his research, he “collected over 18,000 interviews,” published Sexual Behavior in the Human Male in 1948, and published Sexual Behavior in the Human Female in 1953 (Biographical Materials on Alfred Kinsey). In the course of his studies, Kinsey determined that “people did not fit into neat and exclusive heterosexual or homosexual categories” (Kinsey’s Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale). As a result, he developed the Heterosexual-Homosexual Rating Scale (also known as the Kinsey Scale).
The Kinsey Scale consists of 7 points on a continuum, ranging from 100% heterosexual to 100% homosexual:
0 – Exclusively heterosexual
1 – Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual
2 – Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual
3 – Equally heterosexual and homosexual
4 – Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual
5 – Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally hterosexual
6 – Exclusively homosexual
Kinsey did not create a test for scale placement; rating is purely based on self-evaluation. I find this interesting because, while we tend to know ourselves better than anyone else, our self-evaluations are not always accurate. Out of curiosity, I did a quick Google search for Kinsey Scale tests and found these:
I certainly don’t believe that accredited psychologists developed these tests, but I think they’re interesting nonetheless. I decided to informally validate them. I place myself as a 1 on the Kinsey Scale. I choose this rating because, while I consider myself to be heterosexual in orientation, I can appreciate attractiveness in other females and have had curiosity about experiences with females in the past (although I haven’t had any desire to act on that curiosity). After deciding on my rating, I completed both tests. Both gave the same result – a rating of 1. Interesting!
Do the test results match everyone’s self-evaluations? I created an online survey and shared it on Facebook and Twitter to find out. (Because of the small quantity of responses I received, one cannot assume that the results represent an accurate sample of the overall population). These are the results:
- 7 of the self-evaluations matched the results of both tests.
- 2 of the self-evaluations coincided with the results of the first test, but not the second.
- 2 of the self-evaluations matched neither test, but the results of both tests were the same.
I was surprised by how precise the test results were. Even the discrepancies were only 1 “point” off.
Not surprisingly, the topic of sexuality/orientation has expanded since the 1940s. Some critics of the original Kinsey Scale state that it places too much weight on “biological sex” and “only addresses one form of attraction” (Problems With the Kinsey Scale). Other orientations have also been identified and defined:
- Asexual: Attraction to no one
- Pansexual: “Attraction across all gender identities and biological sexes” (Problems With the Kinsey Scale)
- Demisexual: “Sexual attraction is experienced only when accompanied by a strong emotional attraction” (Problems With the Kinsey Scale)
- Homoromantic/heteroromantic/aromantic: “Attraction is experienced romantically rather than sexually” (Problems With the Kinsey Scale)
One graphical depiction of sexuality that I have found to be more representative of reality is The Genderbread Person v3.1:
This graphic shows that sexuality is more complicated than just who is sexually attracted to whom. It consists of gender identity, gender expression, biological sex, sexual attraction, and romantic attraction. This is how I see myself:
- Gender Identity: Woman
- Gender Expression: Between femme and androgynous, but closer to femme
- Biological Sex: Female
- Sexual Attraction: Males, with the slightest curiosity toward females
- Romantic Attraction: Males
See, everything isn’t clear-cut! As the graphic indicates, infinite combinations exist.
What are your thoughts? Where do you fall on the Kinsey Scale? What variation of Genderbread Person are you?