THE FEMALE PHALLUS: On Alfred Kinsey’s sexual vitalism, the theo-political reinstatement of the male/female divide, and the postmodern de-finitization of sexualities.

  • J. Edgar Bauer Jawaharlal Nehru University
Keywords: anthropology and sexuality, life/vitalism, male/female divide, sexology, sexual categories


The study examines anthropology’s ongoing neglect of the theoretical challenges posed by Alfred Kinsey’s (1894-1956) critique of binary sexuality and his re-definition of sexual difference. Focusing on the universal variability of life and the many-leveled continuities of the sexual, Kinsey propounded a deconstructive approach of sex research conducive to a paradigm shift at the core of sexology that allows grasping sexuality as a matter of individual differences within a continuous scheme of sexual distribution. While Kinsey’s disruptive contentions have been mostly disregarded by anthropologists for decades, they continue to incite, on the one side, infuriated reactions from the proponents of a Bible-inspired re-instatement of the clear-cut male/female divide, and, on the other, enthusiastic recognition from post-modern advocates of a queer unsettling and rethinking of traditional conceptualizations of sexuality that operate with closed sets of sexual alternatives.