"K-Day" - August 20, 1953
The Kinsey Report on women hits the news
Since the first Kinsey Report, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, sold more than 200,000 copies in 1948, Dr. Kinsey and his publisher knew the new book on women would likely create a sensation as well.
In the summer of 1953, several months before the release of Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, Kinsey invited selected journalists to come to Bloomington for a preview of the female volume. He decided that this would be the best way to control the expected onslaught of media attention directed at this scientific report on women's sexual behavior. Besides the United States, reporters arrived from England, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Australia .
All the stories were checked by Dr. Kinsey prior to publication for factual errors. They also had to agree that their stories would not appear in print until August 20, 1953, a day that became known as "K-Day."
On August 20, 1953, many people rushed to their newsstands to find out what Dr. Kinsey and his colleagues had discovered about the sexual activities of American women.
Although many agreed with Kinsey's scientific findings, there were also plenty of people who argued that the statistics couldn't be accurate because "good" women would not have engaged in such activities, and if they had, they would not have revealed their experiences to Dr. Kinsey.
Five national magazines hit the stands on K-Day: Collier's, Time, Life, Woman's Home Companion, and Newsweek. Redbook and McCall's appeared the following day. Even the hunting and fishing magazines reported on what women were doing sexually.
Reactions to the Book
On September 14, 1953, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female finally went on sale at bookstores around the country. Published by W.B. Saunders, a Philadelphia company that specialized in medical texts, the hardcover book sold for $8.00. This was a high price, but the book quickly made it to the bestseller list.
As expected, the public reaction ranged from admiration and gratitude to horror and disgust. Letters to the editor praised and denounced the book.
Even members of the clergy differed widely in their opinions. Some said that Kinsey's work would benefit humanity because knowledge of our sexual natures could only improve people's lives, while others called the research ungodly and amoral. Reverend Billy Graham declared that Dr. Kinsey "certainly could not have interviewed any of the millions of born-again Christian women in this country who put the highest price on virtue, decency and modesty."
Both Kinsey and Indiana University President Herman B Wells received an onslaught of mail. Many people thanked Dr. Kinsey for his work and applauded Dr. Wells for supporting the research. Others complained about the validity of the study and pledged to withdraw all support for the university as long as Dr. Kinsey remained on the faculty.
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