One professional track of my life has been studying sexuality in all its forms. I have observed sexual attitudes and behavioral patterns during the past 50 years from three major modes—as therapist, researcher and professor. Each of these has contributed to building an ongoing picture of how sexual behavior has been evolving in the United States.
I was born at the beginning of the great depression in 1929, into a world where women were confined more or less to the home. Few worked outside the home, and those who did were very limited in what they were allowed to do. Some taught until they married.
` Pregnant teachers were not allowed in the classroom; for some reason, some parents thought this would be exposing children to an indecency. Movies began to show some reality about sex in people’s lives, but that was stopped in 1934 with the introduction of the Hays office that forbade the use of words such as pregnant, profanity, and showing two people in bed together.
Women were expected to be virgins upon marriage; if they were not, many states allowed that as a reason for annulment. World War II temporarily changed the work rules for women, but at the end of the war many of them found themselves back in the home. It wasn’t until the sexual revolution of the late 1960s that women were allowed into a large number of fields of work.
I was a member of the generation that expected marriage to last and considered illegitimacy a horror. Birth control information was illegal. In some states condoms had to be labeled, “for prevention of disease only,” as if when you used one with the intent to stop pregnancy, you were breaking the law.
Homosexuals were still considered criminals or mentally ill or both, adultery was the one grounds for divorce in most states, and sex education was virtually nonexistent.
In the first chapter I give an overview of present day students’ attitudes toward sexuality. This is followed by a step back into history in chapter two in which I explore how anti-sexual the Victorian era of the late 1800s was and how this attitude put a straightjacket on women’s sexual behavior to the point that some believed that women were not sexually responsive and that decent women did not have orgasms. The next chapter on the tipping point explores what led up to the revolution of the late 1960s after which sexual behavior and attitudes were never the same.
The sexual revolution created a need for sex education, a topic that was not only just ignored by most universities, but also actively resisted regarding some topics in many universities including the University of Missouri-Columbia (UMC), where I have taught from 1963 to the present time, 2012.
In two chapters I explore my creation of a program to give students information about birth control and then a chapter on the development of a sex education course.
The second section explores developments in our understanding of love and bonding based on research on brain chemistry and love maps. We explore current college student attitudes toward sex differences based on observations they have made in my classes.
Changes in marriage and divorce are discussed and student reactions to marriage contracts explored. Women getting pregnant with the aid of modern science takes us into a realm that was once only treated in science fiction.
Because my first professional involvement in the world of sexuality was as a therapist, the third section of the book is about what I learned working with clients with sexual concerns. My first therapeutic endeavors were after I was made chair of a committee in 1966 that had the goal of eradicating homosexuality from the campus—a goal I eventually found I could not support. I learned about the policies established in 1948 at UMC that banished homosexuals from the campus and made the Student
Health Center and Counseling Services responsible for reporting homosexuals so they could be counseled out of the university. The university’s policies in this area led eventually to a U.S. Supreme Court decision against UMC.
At about this same time I began counseling rape victims who had also been in the closet because of the negative attitude that was taken toward someone who had been raped. The culture saw the violation of rape as something the victim had a part in causing.
The Sexual Revolution of 1968 was in full swing by the time I became aware that no one seemed to want to give the students information about birth control or problem pregnancies. As a result I undertook the role of sex educator and founded a group of students to visit dorms and Greek houses to provide birth control information.
As a supervisor of counselors in training I was also aware that, by and large, they handled the sex problems of their clients poorly. Many problems are the result of sexual ignorance. A graduate training program based on accurate information and successful treatment methods seemed the logical next move.
Several chapters are about the problems involved in developing training in the area and how these problems were solved, including my getting additional training at the Kinsey Institute and in workshops with Masters and Johnson.
In my work I typically have carried a small caseload, since I feel it is important that if I’m teaching students about therapeutic practices, I need to be doing therapy to keep up-to-date on what kinds of problems clients are having.
I was fortunate to have access for research to a pool of rapists in a maximum security ward in a nearby city enabling me to learn more about rapists and their behavior. Honor students and graduate students that I was teaching/supervising generated further information about the sex lives of students on campus.
With all of this background I felt comfortable in offering a graduate class on human sexuality in 1970. In 1971 I started teaching a small honors class. In 1973 I started teaching a large (growing from 180 students to 350) undergraduate class until my retirement in 1995. Following retirement for several years I continued to teach a summer course of 100 students and a fall honors course limited to 20 students that I continue to teach.
I have followed the changes in attitudes and behavior of college students using a number of methods. Some of the material in this book is based on reports I have received from students over the years about their observations on sex in their environment, including a chapter on their fantasies about sensuous encounters.
Two of my goals in writing this book are to give the general reader (1) a broad view of what accurate information has been gained recently in the sexual area and (2) what changes have happened in sexual attitudes and behavior during my work as a professor, researcher and therapist.