I saw a very thought provoking movie tonight. It was the movie Kinsey, starring Liam Neeson and Laura Linney. As you may (or may not) know, the movie is a biographical drama about the life of Alfred C. Kinsey, who did extensive and ground breaking research on human sexuality by interviewing thousands of people about their sexual experiences. And he did this during the 1940's and 1950's, a time when sexuality was a taboo in so many ways.
I couldn't help but think how brave this man had to be to face the prejudices of the time. Sure, he was a scientist and as scientists are known to break conventional ways of thinking, it shouldn't come as a surprise that he carried out what he'd planned to do. But still, in the 40's? It's one thing to think outside of, say, the box of physics or chemistry, but human sexuality? A whole different playground (no pun intended) back then. There were, according to the movie, for instance, people who thought oral sex would somehow result in problems when trying to have children (this is a belief I had never heard of) and of course those who thought masturbation is the way to get cancer and/or whatnot. The conservative (religious) moral values were probably making people feel really guilty for feelings of sexual pleasure. If that isn't a challenge for a research like Kinsey's, then I don't know what is.
What a different world it was. Or was it? It isn't that hard to guess who's been outraged by the portrait of a sex researcher. Yup, you got it. Conservative Christians. American conservative Christians. You surprised yet? In an article published in the Washington Post it's reported that the conservative groups are basically blaming Kinsey for everything from high divorce rates to AIDS and child abuse. Hello? Anyone with a brain out there?
I guess there are still quite a lot of people who think that sex is something dirty, sinful and unnatural. Once again I've found a group of people that I just can't understand. Of course this has quite a lot to do with the conservative religious views that are the ones I really don't get. I do think sex is a private matter (look who's talking and in what forum, ahem...) and that's fine. I just think it's one of the most natural things in life and I feel really sorry for those who feel that it's something they have to be ashamed for, or afraid of, for example. As long as it's a question of the likes and dislikes of consenting adults, I see no reason to make a big deal out of it. It's life. Has always been and will (hopefully) always be, from the beginning of time. No religion can deny that.
I could probably go on and on about the subject and many others that were dealt with in the movie, but I think that might get me so worked up that I'd stay up half the night and besides, who'd want to read that anyway... Instead I'll just say that I think the movie was well worth seeing. The acting was good, Laura Linney was even nominated for an Oscar in the category of Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs. Kinsey, and I've always liked Liam Neeson. What also was good about the film, was that the director didn't dwell too much on the sex itself, which in my opinion is the obvious danger in stories like this, but built the story mostly in more subtle ways. He was really telling a story of a scientist, not of sex. And most important of all, the movie made me think. I always appreciate that.
I'd better go now, tomorrow's going to be a long day. We're going to Tampere (Tomi, Maarit, Leila and I) to a meeting of the Finnish sf-societies. It's going to be fun to see some of the familiar fandom faces again. Maybe even some new faces that we could encourage to join TSFS and read Spin. It'll btw be the first time the wider Finnish fandom meets me as the editor of Spin. Yikes. Not that I'm any different from a few months ago, but they may have some tough questions for me. Like questions about my visions of the future of Spin. I plan to get four Spins out this year? Would that be good enough an answer? Let's hope so. :)