It seems that not long ago, it was rather uncomfortable to talk about sex and related topics in public places. To many members of the baby boom generation, this is still true, even though that generation is responsible for starting the ongoing sexual revolution. At the forefront of that revolution was William Johnson and Virginia Masters. Now their personal lives, as well as their research about sex, will be portrayed in a new television series titled “Masters of Sex.”
William Masters was a gynecologist from Cleveland, Ohio. He received his medical degree from the University of Rochester Medical School. Masters studied the nature of human sexuality and the treatment of sexual disorders as a faculty member of Washington University in St. Louis.
Virginia Johnson was a sexologist from Springfield, Missouri, who studied music at the University of Missouri and the Kansas City Conservatory of Music. She transferred to Washington University in St. Louis to study sociology where she became an assistant to Masters.
Masters and Johnson
It was under Masters’ guidance where Johnson learned about psychology, medical treatments and human behaviors. Although Masters was the senior partner of this research team, it was Johnson who performed as the team’s workhorse, logging many hours to research human sexual responses.
Masters and Johnson were married in 1971, and they were divorced in 1992. Unfortunately, their divorce led to the end of their research. Nonetheless, their body of work on human sexual responses still serve as a blueprint for today’s psychologists, gynecologists and sexologists.
Masters and Johnson – Sex Research
In the initial stages of their research during the 1950s and 1960s, sexual research of this kind was rather shocking. They set out to have scientific understanding of a topic that was rarely talked about openly.
Masters and Johnson developed what is known as the human sexual response cycle, which consists of four separate stages: the excitement phase, the plateau phase, the orgasmic phase and the resolution phase. They studied this cycle of sexual arousal by observing couples and individuals engaging in sexual activities such as intercourse and masturbation. This type of research was definitely considered groundbreaking and taboo for their time, as participants walked a thin line of being labeled as either “daring” or “perverted.”
The discussion surrounding sex in the mid-twentieth century is in high contrast to today’s cultural attitude toward sexuality.
Today, it seems that talking about sex is almost as common as chatting about the weather or last night’s game. As culture shifts over the years, certain “taboo” topics become less risky and more appropriate for conversation.
The steps that Masters and Johnson took helped change our attitude toward sex. By analyzing the sexual experience and talking about it unashamed, they encouraged people to explore sexual topics and learn about sexual health.
Open up the discussion about sex
The show airs this Sunday. Check it out — you may learn something new. We think that opening up the discussion about sexuality and sexual health can be beneficial for all of us. Check out our advice about discussing STDs with your partner and the truths behind common sexual health myths.