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The Kinsey scale was a scale assigning a numerical value to sexual orientation, developed by psychologist Alfred Kinsey during his pioneering research of human sexuality in the mid-20th century. Its main insight was that sexuality falls on a continuous spectrum rather than being strictly binary (either homo- or heterosexual, with no gray area between). The scale is as follows:
|1||Predominantly heterosexual, only incidentally homosexual|
|2||Predominantly heterosexual, but more than incidentally homosexual|
|3||Equally heterosexual and homosexual|
|4||Predominantly homosexual, but more than incidentally heterosexual|
|5||Predominantly homosexual, only incidentally heterosexual|
While Kinsey and his research were the subject of much criticism during his lifetime, the Kinsey Scale itself has managed to stand the test of time among sexologists. Only recently has it been criticized for not being specific enough, as it does not incorporate gender identity, a concept that was unknown to Kinsey and his contemporaries, or physical gender differences (such as those who would be considered intersex or are distinctly non-gendered).
For example, if someone who is assigned male at birth identifies as a woman, and prefers to have sex with men, does that make her gay? And if the same person goes through gender reassignment surgery, does that make her straight? And what of those who identify themselves as a third gender, such as the Hijra of India? These criticisms were subsequently addressed by the LGBT blogosphere with the creation of various multidimensional models that view sexual orientation as a variable independent of gender identity and biological sex, such as the "Genderbread Person". While these models are more sophisticated, and are typically regarded as being capable of greater accuracy, they still ultimately seek to quantify human sexuality, a nigh unreachable goal.
Another criticism is that the Kinsey scale tends to lump romantic and sexual attraction together in to one scale. In actuality these attractions may not be the same, one may be only be romantically attracted to dating one gender but sexually attracted to both sexes, or vice versa. There are also asexuals and aromantics who have no sexual or romantic attraction, respectively, but may have attraction to specific sex/gender in the other category. This problem is usually addressed by using two scales one for romantic attraction and another for sexual attraction. So as an example a women may be a 1 on romantic scale but a 3 on sexual scale who defines herself as a lesbian due to her romantic attractions but has regular casual sexual relationship with males.