Marking Sexuality from 0–6: The Kinsey Scale in Online Culture

Abstract

Alfred Kinsey’s 0–6 (heterosexuality–homosexuality) scale, first published in 1948, has become a method for Internet users to mark and to discuss their sexuality with others in forums and through quizzes. This article first analyzes the historical use and development of the scale and shows its built-in flexibility for individuals seeking tools for contemplating their sexual identities beyond the heterosexual-bisexual-homosexual identity triad. There is no place on the scale that is more “normal” than another; all placements have equal socio-cultural weight. This article then examines 29 quizzes and online forums in different languages that use a scale or a version of it and their user comments. Many users who do not feel that the present-day sexual identity triad adequately represents their sexual self-perception discover affirmation and solidarity in finding a place on the scale in either a whole-number or decimal form. The elasticity of placement on the scale—one can perceive one’s place on it differently at will over time—is particularly useful and applicable in a postmodern, online environment in which people are open to exploring sexual identities and to finding a precise labeling that fits them.

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Acknowledgments

The scale is reproduced by permission of the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, Inc. The author thanks Jared Richman and Tobias Boll for their insightful comments on an earlier version of this article.

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Correspondence to Donna J. Drucker.

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If “it” is anything, “sexuality” is a potentiality, or in Deleuzian terms, a becoming.

—Steven Angelides, A History of Bisexuality, 2001, p. 206. Emphasis in original.

Wow. Way to go Kinsey. Sexuality fully is a continuum ☺

—Dudes, forum posting on Govteen: Global Community, October 16, 2010 (Govteen: Global Community 2010).

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Drucker, D.J. Marking Sexuality from 0–6: The Kinsey Scale in Online Culture. Sexuality & Culture 16, 241–262 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12119-011-9122-1

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Keywords

  • Alfred Kinsey
  • Sexuality
  • Scale
  • Internet