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American Sexual CharacterSex, Gender, and National Identity in the Kinsey Reports$
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Miriam Reumann

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780520238350

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520238350.001.0001

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“I’m a Much Better Citizen Than If I Were Single”

“I’m a Much Better Citizen Than If I Were Single”

Remaking Postwar Marriage and Reconfiguring Marital Sexuality

(p.128) Four “I’m a Much Better Citizen Than If I Were Single”
American Sexual Character

Miriam G. Reumann

University of California Press

Postwar Americans concurrently supported marriage as the cornerstone of personal fulfillment and believed it to be in crisis. They endorsed the institution in unprecedented numbers, as the vast majority of the population chose wedlock over single life, and marriage became increasingly central to national ideology. Kinsey's studies reported that less than half of Americans' sexual activity took place between spouses, and observers imparted the prevalence and devastating effects of premarital sex, infidelity, divorce, and other ills. The marital relationship meant many things to postwar observers. At a moment of intense pronatalism, it was the necessary setting for the birth and rearing of legitimate children. Generally understood as an intensely private realm based on an emotional bond between unique individuals, marriage promised personal happiness and fulfillment. In addition, it was the central, and to some the only, proper setting for sexual expression.

Keywords:   ideology, pronatalism, infidelity, divorce, premarital sex

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