Sex and Science

Miriam G. Reumann, University of Rhode Island

Abstract

The scientific disciplines engaged in investigations of human sexuality from the late nineteenth century through the twentieth included general biology, endocrinology, psychiatry, and medicine. Sexology, which emerged as the primary discipline of sexual science, stands at the center of this topic area. This chapter talks about sexology and focuses on the reproductive sciences, medicine and psychiatry, and technologies of birth control. One crucial factor in the rise of sexual science in the United States was its navigation of disciplinary boundaries at a time of rapid growth and professionalization. The long "sexual revolution" and upheavals of the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s further cemented the professional and popular links between sexual science and technology, as sexual surveys were largely replaced by pharmaceutical research and cultural narratives about sex became increasingly distant from scientific ones. Twentieth-century sexologists created models of proper, healthy sexual attitudes and behaviors that would influence generations to come.