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Sex, Love, and LettersWriting Simone de Beauvoir$
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Judith G. Coffin

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501750540

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501750540.001.0001

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Beauvoir, Kinsey, and Midcentury Sex

Beauvoir, Kinsey, and Midcentury Sex

(p.51) 2 Beauvoir, Kinsey, and Midcentury Sex
Sex, Love, and Letters

Judith G. Coffin

Cornell University Press

This chapter mentions Alfred C. Kinsey's 1948 report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, which was one of the most prominent research on sexuality that François Mauriac associated with Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex. It analyses Kinsey and his team of American scientists' investigation of sexual acts, practices, inclinations, and tastes they had discovered among their fellow citizens. It also talks about critics who were deeply invested in the role of literature, and the responsibility of the writer who warned that The Second Sex and the Kinsey report debased the public. The chapter likens The Second Sex and the Kinsey report to the “erotic jungle” of American popular culture and fashion magazines, and to a world of commerce, sensationalism, and prurience. It explores the scholarly study of sexuality and the public's fixation on the subject that situates The Second Sex in the larger history of contemporary culture.

Keywords:   Alfred C. Kinsey, François Mauriac, sexuality, Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, American popular culture, contemporary culture

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