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Event to focus on women's sexuality

Kinsey Institute to hold weekend conference at IMU

The Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction will co-sponsor a conference next week on women's sexuality to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Alfred Kinsey's landmark book, "Sexual Behavior of the Human Female."

The conference will last Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Indiana Memorial Union. The academic sessions are limited to registered participants.

Notable scholars from around the country are scheduled to speak at the conference. Estelle Freedman, a history professor from Stanford University, will give the keynote address, "Towards Sexual Self-Determination: Female Sexuality in Historical Perspective," 4 p.m. Friday in Alumni Hall.

Other topics to be discussed at the conference include the development of sexuality research, understandings of sexual abuse and evaluations of the Kinsey legacy. Professors from Columbia University, Brown University and University of California-Berkeley and scholars from Austria, England, Bulgaria and Taiwan will also be attending the event.

"The conference will deal with topics as broad as prostitution, birth control, sex and war," said Sarah Knott, an IU history professor. "The goal is to promote discussion about sexuality between different disciplines. Historians as well as scientists will be present."

The conference is being sponsored by the Kinsey Institute, the Social Science Research Council, the vice president for research and the gender studies and history departments. Knott said the purpose is to offer a wide variety of perspectives on the subject.

"It's going to be really interesting to look at where we are right now on the subject 50 years after the initial report," said Sarah Burns, a fine arts professor who will also be participating as a moderator in the conference.

Kinsey's "Sexual Behavior of the Human Female" was published in September 1953 and garnered waves of media and public attention. The book includes interviews with 6,000 women. It discusses premarital and marital sex as well as extramarital sex and masturbation.

"(The book contains) topics a lot of people were not talking about then," said Catherine Johnson, curator of the Kinsey Institute. "It's been said to have helped start the sexual revolution."

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