Kinsey and the Wasps: Mapping a Journey
Part Eleven, in Which Kinsey Enters the Meme Stream
I’m not sure what got me started thinking about this, possibly publicity brainstorming combined with having teenagers in the house, but I began to wonder whether there were Alfred Kinsey memes making their way through cyberspace. So I decided to take a look, and indeed, they do exist. As one might guess, many of the memes featuring a world-renowned sex researcher are Not Suitable For Work. And though I suppose not all memes are humorous, an inordinate number of the Kinsey ones I discovered contained earnest warnings, either that Kinsey himself or the “free love hippies” who responded to his research had intentionally set about to damage society. Again, not all that surprising, given that Kinsey remains a controversial figure.
To me, Kinsey’s most memorable look—1950s sport coat, bow tie, unruly, bristle-brush hair—is a little goofy, and I found one fairly neutral meme that played off that:
I had just about given up on finding one built around Kinsey’s identity as an entomologist when I came upon this little gem on a Facebook page devoted completely to entomology memes (yes, that’s a thing):
As you might guess from the source (actual entomologists), the meme was accompanied by nerdy and well-documented information about Kinsey’s wasp research. The Entomology Memes Facebook page became one of my new favorite things when I later found this meme:
I like to think that Kinsey would get a kick out of the insect humor being circulated by his modern entomological counterparts, but the world will never know.
Heather Sloan is an ILS Master’s student with a specialization in Digital Humanities. She is a full-time staff member in the Media Services and Government Information, Maps & Microform Services (GIMMS) departments of Herman B Wells Library. She has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Percussion Performance from SUNY Stony Brook, and her interests include Caribbean folkloric music, Latin music, record collecting, and design in popular culture. Her Digital Humanities work focuses on intersections between digital and humanitarian mapping, the environment, and arts advocacy. She is a 2019-2020 HASTAC Scholar.