9(pvemBer 2, 1990
'And the Survey Says': Americans Rate Low in
By KAREN S. PETERSON
NEW YORK — The United States is
a nation of sexual illiterates, a Kinsey
Institute study released recently says
that American men and womenlack
the most basic information about how
their bodies work.
Such ignorance, fed by myths and
squeamishness in the medical profes
sion, leaves Americans "struggling
(and) anxious," said Ruth Reinisch, di
rector of the Kinsey Institute for Re
search in Sex, Gender and Reproduc
tion inBloomington, Ind.
"Many women know more about
how their automobiles function than
about how their bodies do," said Rein
isch, author of "The Kinsey Institute
New Report on Sex: What You Must
Know to Be Sexually Literate."
The 18-question poll involved per
sonal interviews with 1,974 Americans
nationwide last October.
Participants from the Midwest gen
erally scored best, with 55 percent
passing, followed by 47 percent in the
West and 40 percent in the South and
Northeast. "We never would have
predicted this," Reinisch said.
Overall there were no differences in
accuracy by sex, but men did better in
questions about rates of sexual behav
ior and women in questions about
sexual health care and contraception,
Among the study's findings:
— 49 percent of those responding
said they did not know a woman can
get pregnant during her menstrual pe
— Precisely half did not know that
anal intercourse itself does not cause
— A fourth of those responding did
not know that penile withdrawal is not
aneffective method of contraception;
another 10 percent did not know
enough toanswer the question.
— 75 percent did not know that up to
40 percent of married men have
The Kinsey Institute is named for
Alfred Kinsey, the zoologist who con
landmark studies on human sexual
behavior in 1948 and 1953.
Reinisch said the new report found
that Americans are inundated with
sexual messages but not sexual facts.
Reinisch said most parents are queasy
about talking to their children on the
subject, and schools do not provide
much more information.
In addition, Reinisch said, "Educa
tion about sexuality in medical schools
is abysmal, and it's getting worse, not
Doctors are often embarrassed to talk
about sex to patients, said San
Francisco psychiatrist James Krajeski:
"Everybody is uncomfortable talking
about sex at some point. There is no
reason to think doctors are different."
Reinisch said the survey confirmed
what she has always suspected about >
Americans' knowledge of sexuality:
"We don't have the facts on a wide
range of topics from contraception to
The margin of error was 3 percentage
©Copyright 1990, USA TODAY /Apple
College Information Network (Karen
S. Peterson writes for USA TODAY.)
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cont. from pg 5
going up. Bangladesh used to im
port 70 million barrels from Kuwait.
Now she has to import oil from other
sources at a much higher price.
The other financial hardships faced
by the developing countries are the
loss of earning from the large work
force in Kuwait and Iraq. About 500
thousand Asians are stranded - living
under open skies without food, shel
ter, or money. These 150 thousand
people support about 1.5 million de
pendents in Bangladesh. Evacuating
such a large number of refugees with
out international help is also beyond
For the third world countries the
immediate problems are:
2. loss of income from workers
3. Increase cost of oil
For the U.S. it is more complicated
U.S. has stipulated the followingobjec-
1. Withdrawal of Iraqi troops from
2. Reinstating the Amir of Kuwait as
3. Release of all U.S. hostages.
The U.S. is the dominant force in the
Gulf crisis. Her massive military build
up and worldwide, political support,
embargo, or blockade of any supply in
or out of Iraq has effectively neutral
ized any further aggressive designs, if
any, of Iraq. The blockade has already
crippled Iraq with food supplies get
ting short and no source of revenue
from exports of oil. However, the U.S.
must be concerned with the large
number of hostages. We can not also
go for a shooting war.
Well, the good news is that the war
may have been averted so far, but the
bad news is that the solutions of the
crisis seems too far away. U.S. policy
planners are thinking in terms of six
months to a year stay. At $15 billion a
month price tag, this stand off without
even a shot being fired is going to be ex
pensive in more ways than one.
It has been a number of weeks since
the whole thing started,but fortunately
the intensity of violence from bo th sides
has subsided considerably, and I hope
and pray that everything will come to
Source: U.S. Department of Education
Marcia Staimer, Gannett News Service
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