This invited “Hirschfeld Lecture” was given on June 23, 2009

at the 19th World Congress for Sexual Health in Göteborg, Sweden.

© 2009 Erwin J. Haeberle


Erwin J. Haeberle


Sexology - From Berlin to Göteborg and Beyond


Magnus Hirschfeld’s International Activities

-       The First Institute for Sexology

-       Congresses and a World-wide Organization

-       A Lecture Tour around the World

Hirschfeld’s Legacy Today

-       Institutes

-       Congresses and Organizations

-       A New Global Network

The Future of Sexology - “Open Access”

1. Online Publications

2. Online Sexual Health Information

3. Online Distance Education

Sexology: One of the Life Sciences

New Ways of Promoting Sexual Health


Hirschfeld's International Activities


The First Institute for Sexology

90 years ago, in 1919, the physician Magnus Hirschfeld opened the world’s first Institute for Sexology in Berlin.


It was a private initiative, taken outside the academic mainstream. Neither the university in Berlin nor any other university had an interest in creating such an institute. The topic of human sexuality, even at the level of morally neutral, objective research, was still considered too controversial by most scientists and scholars. However, Hirschfeld was devoted to much more than research. True to his motto: Per scientiam ad justitiam!” (Through science to justice!), he worked openly and tirelessly for sexual reform, and that, of course, inevitably meant legal, social, and political reform. Thus, from the beginning, the Institute also had a very practical side. For example, it offered both marriage counseling to couples and help to the sexually oppressed of its time. Hirschfeld and his colleagues not only provided medical services, but also agitated in public for the abolition of criminal laws against private homosexual behavior. They demanded the legal equality of women and men, the acceptance of gender-conflicted persons and other sexual minorities, public sex education, and the general availability of contraception. (1)

This activism, however, prompted the academic establishment to distance itself even further from Hirschfeld’s enterprise. And it was an enterprise, even in the commercial sense. In order to secure the survival of his privately financed Institute, Hirschfeld had to take several unconventional steps. For example, he used it as a display case for both his educational materials and his collection of erotic curiosa. Thus, among other things, the Institute was also a museum with lectures and guided tours for visitors from all over the world. Some of them, like Jawaharlal Nehru, André Gide, and Margaret Sanger, were quite famous. Others, like the young Christopher Isherwood, were still unknown outside their small circles. In any case, whether admired or ridiculed, the Institute soon acquired a certain international notoriety. This all the more since Hirschfeld was also forced to undertake all kinds of business ventures, from the publication of popular books and magazines and the co-production of films to the marketing of “potency pills” (Testifortan,Titus-Perlen). Even some of his supporters felt that a few of these endeavors were questionable and unseemly. As a result, Hirschfeld was even more easily dismissed as an unsavory character and unscientific propagandist by his enemies, and these enemies were many.


Hirschfeld was an outsider in more than one sense. As a Jew and a socialist, he had, very early on, drawn the ire of right-wing radicals. With the foundation of his Institute he became a target for open violence. In 1920, after a lecture in Munich, he was attacked and severely beaten by anti-Semitic, nationalist goons who left him for dead in the street. Thus, he had the rare privilege of reading his own obituary in the newspaper.


Congresses and a World-wide Organization

Nevertheless, Hirschfeld’s Institute remained successful and, in the following year 1921, he was able to organize the world’s first sexological congress in Berlin, actually the first international congress of any kind in that city after WW I. (2) Five years later, in 1926, his rival, Albert Moll, managed to hold an even larger international congress for sex research with an opening ceremony at the Reichstag, then, as today, the seat of the German parliament. Very pointedly, however, Moll did not invite Hirschfeld, whose Institute was only a stone’s throw away. Asked for a reason, Moll hinted darkly at Hirschfeld’s “problematic nature”.(3)


This brings up a third factor in Hirschfeld’s outsider status: His homosexuality, never openly admitted, was known to many and suspected by everyone else. In the Weimar Republic of Germany, where male homosexual acts were still a serious crime, this was an enormous handicap for any public figure who dared to speak out on any subject at all. And Hirschfeld had long been very outspoken in public about subjects that were widely considered taboo.  

Undeterred, Hirschfeld continued to pursue his goals, and, in 1928, with the help of J. H. Leunbach and others, succeeded in organizing another large international meeting in Copenhagen - the founding  congress of  a World League for Sexual Reform (WLSR) (4) This was another important step in the globalization of sexology. Hirschfeld shared the presidency of the new organization with the Englishman Havelock Ellis and the Swiss Auguste Forel. An international advisory board included the Americans Margaret Sanger, William Robinson, and Harry Benjamin, the English Dora Russell and Norman Haire, the German Helene Stöcker and Max Hodann, the Russian Alexandra Kollontai, and many other outstanding women and men from Canada, France, Italy, Spain, Austria, Belgium, the Netherlands, Iceland, Norway, Denmark, Latvia, Czechoslovakia, Egypt, Argentina, Chile, Liberia, and Japan. There were also three members from Sweden: Alma Sundquist, a Professor Silverstolpe, and a certain Dr. Bratt. With the help of this large board, the League was able to organize three more congresses - in London (1929), Vienna (1930), and Brno, Czechoslovakia (1932).


We all know what followed: Hitler came to power in 1933 and immediately set out to destroy the new science. The Nazis were sworn enemies of gender equality, contraception, and abortion. They had no patience whatsoever with sexual minorities of any kind, and they especially hated homosexuals. But the one group they hated more than anyone else was the Jews.


It so happened that many of the sexological pioneers were German and Austrian Jews - Hirschfeld and his co-workers at his Institute: Kronfeld, Schapiro, Levy-Lenz, Abraham, among others, but also his rival Moll and other leading figures: Bloch, Eulenburg, Max Marcuse, Theilhaber, Lewandowski, Klimowsky, Gräfenberg, Reich, Krauss, Steinach - to name just the best known. Bloch and Eulenburg had already died, but the others soon found themselves in physical danger. Many of them fled into exile - to the USA, the Soviet Union, Switzerland, Italy, the Scandinavian countries, Palestine, and Egypt.


A Lecture Tour around the World

Hirschfeld himself had received serious warnings several years before. Already in the late 1920’s, he was no longer able to speak in public, because his lectures were regularly interrupted by Nazi provocateurs. He therefore gratefully accepted an invitation by Harry Benjamin in 1930 to give some lectures in New York. Invitations to Chicago and San Francisco followed, and eventually Hirschfeld was able to undertake a global lecture tour, using his fees in one country to travel on to the next. During this 2-year trip around the world, Hirschfeld introduced the new science of sexology to audiences in Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, India, Egypt, Palestine, and Greece. (5)

This trip was the first attempt by a single individual to bring sexological knowledge to the far corners of the world by lecturing to audiences that, for the most part, would never become aware of his books or of those of his colleagues. It was a heroic effort to globalize a science by means other than print. Yes, he could hope for some English and perhaps French translations, but how likely was it that his writings would be translated into Japanese, Chinese, Indonesian, and Arabic? So he made a virtue out of necessity: Since he was no longer safe in Germany, Hirschfeld, like a modern St. Paul, tried to spread the gospel by traveling in person from country to country. At the same time, he engaged in what we today call “networking”, i.e. he visited old friends and made new ones, sought out influential politicians, activists, scientists, artists, and other celebrities, and tried to win them over to his cause. However, when he finally arrived in Vienna in 1932, he found that the danger had not passed and had, in fact, grown worse. Unable to return to Berlin, he bade his time in Switzerland and France. In 1933, he saw in a Paris cinema a newsreel showing the plundering of his Institute by Nazi students and the public burning of his library. Still exiled, he died in Nice on his 67th birthday, May 14, 1935.


Had he been able to return to Berlin, this global network of supporters would have given not only his Institute, but the science of sex itself an enormous boost. Moreover, he had brought a Chinese disciple, Li Shiu Tong, with him to Europe, and if he could have trained him at his Institute, an early, very useful connection to China could have been established. Instead, in the end, this young man found himself exiled together with his mentor and, after the latter’s sudden death, lost his intellectual direction. After studying medicine in Switzerland and the US for many years without obtaining a degree, he disappeared into anonymity. We have learned only recently that he died at a very advanced age 16 years ago in Vancouver, Canada. (6)


The present occasion does not require my going into detail about Hirschfeld’s many other pioneering accomplishments. Today I will concentrate simply on his far-sighted efforts to internationalize, indeed, globalize sexology. It is here where we can still learn from him and from the others he was able to win for his cause. 


Hirschfeld's Legacy Today


Let us recall how Hirschfeld tried to internationalize sexology:

1. His Institute attracted not only German, but also foreign visitors (1919-1933),

2. he organized the first international congress (1921),

3. he founded a world-wide organization (the WLSR 1928), and

4. he undertook a lecture tour around the globe (1930-1932).


Can we find comparable efforts today? To quote a famous personality of our own time: “Yes, we can”. Indeed, we must if we want our science to survive in the new millennium. The remembrance of things past is important, but nostalgia alone will get us nowhere. The admonition from Goethe’sFaust “ is also meant for us:

What from your father’s heritage is lent, earn it anew to properly possess it!”

(„Was Du ererbt von Deinen Vätern hast, erwirb es, um es zu besitzen!“)


Fortunately, since the deliberate destruction of our science by the Nazis, many sexologists have been “earning their heritage anew” and have accepted it as a challenge for themselves. In the meantime, we can already be proud of many accomplishments. 



First of all, since the defeat of the Nazi regime, there have been several successful attempts to revive Hirschfeld’s idea of a combined sexological research and resource center - the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University (since 1947), the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco (since 1976), and my own Archive for Sexology in Berlin (since 1994). In addition, there are now many impressive sexological collections held by various universities, public libraries and private organizations in the US, Europe, and even China. (7) In this sense, therefore, an important part of Hirschfeld’s legacy lives on.


Congresses and Organizations

As to the second and third of Hirschfeld’s strategies - international congresses and organizations - our very presence here in 2009, at the 19th World Congress of a World Association, vindicates his vision and proves his eventual and enduring success.


Interestingly enough, it was an exiled fellow Berliner, Hans Lehfeldt, who was instrumental in restarting the tradition of international sexological congresses. Lehfeldt had escaped the Nazis to New York and there had begun to form a group that, in 1960, evolved into the Society for the Scientific Study of Sex (SSSS). Lehfeldt also co-organized an international sexological meeting in Paris 1974. Following this initiative, such world congresses began to move around the globe, since 1978 organized every two years by the WAS, formerly known as the World Association of Sexology, now the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). In addition, there are now several regional associations - in Africa, Asia-Oceania,

Europe, North America and Latin America. (8)

By now, our world congresses have taken place on every continent, the previous one in Australia, after North, South and Central America, and Asia. Today, we are once again in Europe, where it all began.


Thus, we can, and should, see ourselves as the legitimate heirs and executors of Hirschfeld’s will. We also remain committed to his goal of sexual reform. Indeed, our Association is, among other things, also a worthy successor of the World League for Sexual Reform. Our Declaration of Sexual Rights of 1999 goes much further than the Reform Platform of the League had ever dared to go (9). Not only that: With our numerous member societies in so many countries all around the world, we reach many more people than the League ever could. At the same time, however, we now realize how daunting the task really is. Hirschfeld, in his book about his world journey (10), was still able to describe the various sexual customs he encountered as fascinating and exotic, but today, in an increasingly globalized world with its ubiquitous newswires and instant television images we see the brutality that often lurks behind the folkloristic façade. We now understand why, in spite of the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948, the sexual rights we have been demanding for the last 10 years are not included and will not be included in the foreseeable future. They have no chance of being adopted by the UN General Assembly, because too many of its member countries remain unwilling to grant them to their own citizens. (Of course, many of them do not even grant the human rights officially listed in the Declaration.) In any case, with our congresses and our organization, we have continued on the path laid down by Hirschfeld a lifetime ago, and we can all take pride in that.. But have we also learned the lesson taught by his trip around the world? I believe that this last question will turn out to be the decisive one for the future of our field.


A New Global Network

 According to Hirschfeld himself, he developed and refined his lectures as he went along, but, in the end, he had a repertory of five different basic lectures, illustrated with slides, that could be adapted to his varying audiences. His general theme was “Love in the Light of Science”, and under this heading he offered the following:

1. Introduction to Sexology, a new and important science

2. Natural Laws of Love

3. Love, Sex and Marriage

4. Sex Pathology (Sufferings of love)

5. Sexual Reform on a Scientific Basis (11)


Occasionally, he also spoke about Sex Education in Puberty or discussed the ever popular question Is homosexuality inborn or acquired? Because of his inadequate English, he spoke in German whenever possible, with a local translator standing by his side.

When we now look at this list of topics, we see that they were general enough to cover the entire field of sexology even as we understand it today. After all, as sexologists we still have the obligation to advance a scientific way of looking at love, sex and marriage, to understand sexual problems and to fight for social and political conditions favorable to sexual health.


However, in the last 15 years, there has been a fundamental change in our situation: An electronic revolution has opened up entirely new opportunities for the promotion of our field. This revolution has barely begun, and no one knows where it will eventually lead us, but one thing is certain: We will either join it - and do so promptly and enthusiastically - or we will miss the greatest chance our science has ever had in its entire history.


The world-wide web has made it much easier to reach our goals, but, at the same time, it has put a heavy, unshakeable burden on our shoulders: If we fail to make use of our new opportunities, if we do not present and assert ourselves in the new medium, we will be swept away in a global tsunami of jumbled information and misinformation about sex, the world will no longer know us or care about us, and we will have no one to blame but ourselves.


The Future of Sexology - “Open Access”


The world as Hirschfeld knew it is gone, and so are many of the obstacles he encountered:  An electronic Institute or Archive cannot be plundered by fanatical mobs, and an online library cannot be burned by repressive governments. Today, books, papers, and illustrations can easily be copied, multiplied, and preserved on thousands or even millions of personal computers and disks all over the world. One and the same text can be read at the same time by countless students on their computers either at home or in libraries or internet cafés. Lectures, whether as texts or as videos, travel in seconds around the globe - no auditorium needed, no passport and no visa required, no ship, no train, no airplane. Personal blogs allow researchers and academic teachers to tell the world instantaneously about the progress of their work. Special internet programs also allow free picture phone calls and video conferences from any country to any other country. E-mails can be sent simultaneously to hundreds or thousands of recipients, in the meantime also on cell phones. Indeed, some cell phones already provide access to the internet, and in the future this will become standard. In short, there is no longer any question that we have become part of a global information society.

To many of you all of this may sound too obvious to be mentioned here, but, so far, very few academic writers have really thought about its long-term implications. For us sexologists, the electronic revolution has many, still largely unexplored consequences. Here I will mention only three:

  1. Now we can be our own publishers, and thus
  2. we can make scientific information available at much lower cost to many more people in many more places than ever before, and,
  3. without moving from our own location, we can offer distance education to students everywhere in the world.


However, all of this will benefit us only if we understand and embrace the principle of “open access” to scientific information.(12)  In other words: We must make our knowledge available at no cost to interested readers all over the world. “Open access” is the one principle that does not favor only the rich and established sciences, but also helps poor outsiders, and especially an academic “underdog” like sexology. Are we smart enough to take advantage of it? Let me discuss the three points one by one:

1. Online Publications
What does the internet mean for scientific publications? It means, among other things, the end of the traditional textbook and the end of scientific journals as we know them. They will survive only in electronic form, and this means that their present publishers will no longer be needed. Academic writers can now reach their readers directly and, sooner or later, will decide “to cut out the middleman”. This decision will have the enthusiastic support of libraries all over the world, because most of them can no longer afford the increasingly costly subscriptions. (13)

Many of us have written articles for scientific journals for which we have never received honoraria or royalties. We did this, and still do, because being published in reputable journals enhances our own reputation and may help our academic advancement. However, over the years, our unpaid work has made the journal publishers rich and powerful. This power, in turn, is now being used against us, when the publishers demand all rights to our work, including the electronic rights, so that they can charge individuals and libraries not only subscription fees for the print versions, but also reading fees for the electronic versions. Nevertheless, we authors still don’t get paid and, to add insult to injury, we see our already limited readership shrink as more and more libraries cancel their subscriptions. And we can all count on one thing: Sexological journals will be sacrificed first, well before those of the traditional sciences. Thus, quite obviously, for unpaid sexological authors, “open access” is the only reliable path into the future.

The publishers of “pay-per-view” journals argue that they fulfill the basic function of validation and certification and set up the infrastructure and the peer review panels that assure the public's trust in research results. However, how long can this trust last when a well-known publishing company now has to admit that six of its “scientific” journals were “fake” and were, in fact, financed by the pharmaceutical industry? (14) How long will journal editors tolerate outright censorship by their publisher?  Or what else do you call it, when a publisher, fearing “controversy”, simply removes an article from a peer-reviewed journal against the will of the editors? (15) These are just two recent examples of journal publishers digging their own, well-deserved graves. Indeed, they have now become obstacles to the free flow and exchange of ideas. The fact of the matter is that the peer review system with its editorial boards can function just as well in an electronic format. The editors can simply cancel their agreements with the publishers and transfer their operation to an internet platform of their own. Of course, as I have pointed out on another occasion, they still will not have a true open access journal if they then ask the authors to pay for the privilege of being published. (16) Shifting the financial burden from the subscribers to the authors is not the solution. This will still be an obstacle to the unhindered dissemination of knowledge. In the long run, therefore, much more radical steps will have to be taken. After all, even in the internet certain costs remain unavoidable. For example, in contrast to the authors, editors usually do get paid by the publisher, in some cases a rather handsome salary. However, in the future such salaries and other production costs can, and should, be paid by the universities and organizations that profit from the journal’s reputation. After all, if adopted everywhere, such as system would be much cheaper than the present one, because universities would save more in library subscription costs than they would have to pay out in additional salaries. One should also remember that many universities have foreign language departments that could give credit to their students for translating the journal articles and other online publications into additional languages, thereby greatly increasing their readership. Of course, this will require a much higher degree of cooperation between universities and individual faculty members than we have seen so far. In the end, however, they will have no choice. Sheer economic necessity will force them to do what they should already be doing right now but are still postponing.

These structural changes may be inevitable in the long run, but they are not quickly or easily accomplished. Still, the trend is clear: Just last week, 10 American university presses issued a statement supporting open access to scholarly research. (17) Earlier, the US National Institute of Health (NIH) had already adopted an “open access” policy for all research that it funds with public money. The US National Academies have decided to make their entire collection of nearly 11 000 reports freely available online. (18)  Major American universities like Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Stanford School of Education, Boston University, and the University College London are providing “open access” internet platforms for their faculty, because they want to tear down the “economic barrier” to the spread of knowledge erected by journal publishers. Instead, they want the widest possible readership for their publications. In the final analysis, they want to increase their own global influence and especially their influence in developing countries. (19) The lesson for us is also clear: As authors we must, from on, retain the copyright for all our unpaid publications. This way can we decide ourselves where and how our texts get published. In many cases, an “open access” electronic publication will prove preferable for two reasons: 1.It can reach many more readers, and 2. It will not fall victim to subscription cancellations and thus disappear altogether.

2. Online Sexual Health Information
The world-wide demand for freely accessible sexual health information is enormous. Much of it is already being met by excellent web sites, such as that of the World Health Organization (WHO) or of the Harvard Medical School. Very useful is also the internet service Science Daily with its special section on Sexual Health. However, these sites deliberately limit themselves to non-controversial, purely medical information. (20) Other sites touch on social issues and even support specific policies, such as that of the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) and the Guttmacher Institute. (21) Finally, there are numerous free web sites run by other private organizations, university health services, and special groups such as the physically disabled or by sexual minorities such as gays and lesbians, transsexuals, intersexes, and others. These sites try not only to inform and educate the public, but also to improve their own situation by demanding concrete social and legal changes.(22)

In spite of these and many other informational internet sources, or rather because of them, there remains an urgent need for a comprehensive view of human sexuality that only sexology can provide. And exactly here lie our obligations and our opportunities.

It is up to us to collect, sift, analyze, and evaluate this huge and fast growing amount of information, because, as another of our pioneers, Iwan Bloch, once put it, sexology provides a “centralized standpoint” from which to view human sexuality as a whole. (23) It is from this position that we must bundle and reorganize the information.  There are millions all over the world who are eager to learn but remain confused by all the bits and pieces of information they find in the internet. They are waiting for us to sort out and assemble the countless isolated details in a meaningful pattern.

Some first important steps in this direction have already been taken. For example: The American Academy of Clinical Sexologists (AACS), has, for several years now, made its doctoral dissertations freely available online, and the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality (IASHS) has done the same, adding a steadily growing number of research papers. (24) A few years ago, our late colleague Vern Bullough made his great work Human Sexuality - An Encyclopedia available. (25) Robert Francoeur has done the same with his International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. (26) Diederik F. Janssen has added his ethnological World Reference Atlas. (27) All three of these works are available at the site of my Archive for Sexology in a fast growing online library which offers books and papers in several languages. (28) Some of these have also been contributed by other colleagues like Ira Reiss, Milton Diamond, Elaine Hatfield, Per Olov Lundberg, Osmo Kontula and Elina Haavio-Mannila, Fang-Fu Ruan, Dalin Liu, Igor Kon, Richard Green, Leonore Tiefer, Beverly Whipple, and many, many others. In short, we are building up a freely accessible electronic depository of sexological literature that can be read by anyone at anytime anywhere in the world. This depository contains not only some “classics” of our field, but also current surveys and research papers. Needless to say, you are all invited to add your own contributions.

3. Online Distance Education
Providing world-wide “open access” to the historical and current literature of sexology can, of course, only be a beginning. To those who have a serious interest in entering our field we also have to offer more structured information. As I already mentioned, I see no future for the traditional textbook, since an equivalent electronic offer is much more easily updated and can reach many more students. This is especially true if it is freely accessible, but in the end all textbooks will be freely accessible or they will simply cease to exist. Actually, they will cease to exist in any case, because in the internet their content will take an entirely different form. The old textbooks will turn into units of course materials or complete courses with links to a multitude of original online sources, including additional relevant literature, and all of this will, in turn, be constantly updated and freely available online. Indeed, I am convinced that, in the long run, scientific information - or any other factual information - cannot be restricted to paying customers. It is simply too easily copied and instantly distributed all around the globe. Trying to “catch the thieves” is a fruitless exercise.

Under the new circumstances, the best defense is the offense. Therefore, let us write “open access” online courses, and let our readers decide what to do with them. What these courses should contain has been repeatedly spelled out by the World Health Organization (WHO). Indeed, in the second of its two reports on the subject, the WHO has provided the blueprints of different curricula for different target groups. This second report was actually written in cooperation with our own World Association for Sexual Health (WAS). (29)

The last decades have indeed produced sexological training programs in more than 20 countries. (30) Some of them also offer distance education. However, so far, none of them makes its courses freely accessible. They remain restricted to students who have enrolled and have paid their tuition. Only then are they given a password that allows them to access their study material. The main reason for this is, once again, the copyright problem. Since the teachers habitually use an assortment of texts and illustrations copyrighted to others, they must restrict them to their own students. They would break the law if they made them freely available in the internet.

Obviously, not every academic teacher can also be a textbook writer and his own illustrator. On the other hand, all teachers must make their students aware of alternative viewpoints, invite them to read different texts on the same subject, and thus to develop a critical mind. Does this mean that they are forever prevented from giving the world open access to their classes?  Not at all:

In the US, several great universities like Yale and the UC Berkeley have begun to make videos of important lectures freely available in the internet. (31) However, this can only be a first step. Videos require a lot of loading time and pc memory resources. This is bound to be a problem for readers in the developing countries. Moreover, videos cannot be updated. They are historical documents the minute they are put online. For an update, the lecturer has to give another lecture and must be filmed again. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has therefore taken a different path. It is now offering freely accessible course materials of 1900 courses. Not only that:  It offers them in several languages (English, Spanish, Portuguese, and Chinese). Some of the materials have substantial audio or video content, but the majority consists of readings, lecture notes, assignments, exams, and links to related resources. These go into great detail, but are easily updated when necessary. (32) 

In any case, “open access” offers like these are meant to be used by other universities all over the world. Professors, especially in the developing countries, are invited to take full advantage of the work of their American colleagues. They can use all or parts of it as they please, can augment it with their own material, can add their own assignments, can cut, expand, or rewrite the exam questions, and decide for themselves what kind of credit they want to give to their students for which course or combination of courses. This is also true of the “Open Access” Curriculum in Sexual Health that I am offering on my Archive web site. Thanks to many of you, who are helping with the translations, this curriculum of six courses is available in several languages and is being accessed on all five continents. (33)

This brings us finally to an important, but often overlooked aspect of “open access”: If used wisely, it can generate considerable income for degree-granting institutions. While it is increasingly impossible to sell factual information in the internet, it is very well possible to charge admission fees and tuition for allowing distance students to enroll in an academic degree program. The courses themselves may be freely accessible to anyone else, but registered distance students will gladly pay for their personal online contact with fellow students, for regular video conferences with their professors, for the grading of their assignments, the evaluation of their theses or dissertations, and finally for their examinations.  Indeed, they will see it as a profitable investment into their future if, in the end, they can obtain a certificate, diploma or degree from a reputable institution or organization. Several successful “online” universities are already proof enough of that.

However, we should go much further than these universities have yet dared to go and, from the beginning, make our sexological courses freely available online. Undoubtedly, this will mean that some others may make money with our work without telling us about it. On the other hand, “open access” courses are their own best advertisement and reach hundreds of thousands of potential students all over the world. Many of them will prefer to study with the original authors if given a chance to do so. In the end, it will be a combination of factors that decide which university will profit most: Its international reputation, the world-wide recognition of its degrees, the quality of its interactive software, the excellence of faculty, the time and attention given to each individual distance student, the price of its tuition and fees.

Surprisingly, so far, very few university administrations seem to realize how much income can be derived from “open access” courses. Even fewer understand that freely accessible sexological courses could be especially profitable. Of course, as I already mentioned, there are sexological training programs in several countries, but most traditional universities continue to ignore our field altogether. The number of sexology departments has drastically declined in many Western countries, including the US and Germany. Thirty years ago, there were many; today only a few are left. Is this a trend, and if so, what are we to make of it? Are we losing influence?  I believe that we can very well make up in quality what we are losing in quantity. In fact, the loss is not as significant as it may seem at first glance: In Asia and Latin America new human sexuality programs are taking hold, greatly helped by national and regional congresses and the resources now available in the internet.


At the same time, we see another interesting development: Many universities are now busy combining different disciplines under the new, fashionable umbrella of “Life Sciences”. Here they invest heavily, hiring new faculty, and creating whole new departments.


Sexology: One of the Life Sciences

At this time, most people associate the term “life sciences” only with certain natural sciences, such as biology, medicine, or ecology that deal with living organisms and their relationship to each other. (34) There is now a general expectation that strengthening these established areas of research will lead to increased cooperation between them and to many practical applications. However, such a narrow understanding cannot do justice to the enormous potential of the life sciences. Indeed, a current commercial web site representing various biotech companies working in this field, already takes a much broader view by formulating this common goal: “The use of science and technology to improve the health and well-being of a population.(35)

Obviously, if we accept this definition - and we should - we see that sexology is able to make an important contribution. Sexual health is so essential for “the well-being of a population” that it is hard to understand why sexology keeps being overlooked in this context. The most obvious example is the prevention of sexually transmitted diseases. Certainly, medical research into possible vaccinations, bactericidal and virocidal preparations is extremely important. At the same time, however, it is also essential to understand human sexual behavior and to know how people might be motivated to change it and to protect themselves. Other examples are intersexuality and transsexualism. Continued hormonal and neurological research may very well increase our understanding of these phenomena, but this will not solve the psychological, social, and legal problems that are often associated with them. It takes experienced sexologists to explain the human, personal side of these issues and to remind everyone of the fact that one is dealing here with the concrete lives of real people and their human rights. In short, in these cases, as in almost every other area of sexual health, both the natural and the cultural sciences have to work together. We sexologists have known this since Hirschfeld’s time, and it is now our duty to insist that this knowledge is put to use in the new “life sciences centers”.

Sexual anthropology, ethnology, history, sociology, the political science and economics of sex as well as sex education in the widest sense of the term can rightfully be called life sciences, because they all can contribute to the improvement of life on this planet. As a World Association, we have supported the UN Millennium Development Goals and have stated in our own “Millennium Declaration”:

The promotion of sexual health is central to the attainment of wellness and well-being and to the achievement of sustainable development and more specifically to the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Individuals and communities who experience well-being are better positioned to contribute to the eradication of individual and societal poverty. By nurturing individual and social responsibility and equitable social interactions, promotion of sexual health fosters quality of life and the realization of peace.” (36)

The last few decades have seen a gradual broadening of the concept of health. More and more people have begun to realize that it is not only medical, but also a social and economic, indeed, a political issue. This realization is reflected in the various current definitions of sexual health by international and national organizations and agencies.(37) Implicitly, they have thereby given us a seat at the table where decisions are made. This is the best indication of how far we have come.

New Ways of Promoting Sexual Health

It is now up to us continue this progress at an accelerating pace. The internet is providing the means. For example, there is the well-known Google project Knol, which, since 2007, has allowed academic writers to make their papers freely accessible online (38). However, well before that date we sexologists had already created “open access” electronic platforms of our own, such as the site of WAS (39) and that of my Archive for Sexology - the largest web site on human sexuality in the world. (40) On these specialized web sites our publications can be found much more easily. In short: If we seriously explore and exploit the new opportunities provided by the electronic revolution, our voice will be heard in more places than ever before:


-       “Open access” online publications can meet the growing world-wide demand for sexological literature and, at the same time, establish its authors as credible experts.


-       Open access” online sexual health information can reach a vast global readership. Among the readers will not only be members of the general public, but also countless professionals, administrators and officials in many countries who are interested in the latest sex research and are willing to learn from the experience of others.


-       “Open access” online courses can reach very large numbers of potential students as well as millions of ordinary women and men of all ages all around the globe who are eager to learn. We can provide them with a broader view of human sexuality and sexual health. If knowledge is power, we can empower them and help them to lead happier, self-determined lives.


Therefore: Let us commit ourselves anew to our mission and let us use the most efficient way of carrying it out:


Through the internet to global sexual health!





1.     These demands were later incorporated in the Platform of the World League for Sexual Reform (WLSR)

2.     The "International Conference for Sex Reform on a Sexological Basis", organized by Hirschfeld 1921 in Berlin at the Langenbeck-Virchow-Haus:

3.      Albert Moll, "Der 'reaktionäre' Kongress für Sexualforschung" in Zeitschrift für Sexualwissenschaft, XIII, 10 (Jan. 1927), pp. 322 f . See also

4.     For details see

5.     For details see

6.     Li Shiu Tong died in 1993. His papers were purchased by the Tretter Collection at the University of Minnesota: see and

7.     The China Sex Museum for other resource centers see our World-wide Directory:

8.     See our World-wide Directory

9.     See under 4 above

10.   M. Hirschfeld, Die Weltreise eines Sexualforschers, Brugg, Switzerland 1933, English edition: Men and Women - The World Journey of a Sexologist, New York 1935.

11.   Op. cit. Hirschfeld, Weltreise p. 312

12.   Open Access Declarations have been issued in Budapest (2001), Bethesda, Maryland, USA (June 2003), and Berlin (October 2003). They are collectively known as the BBB Declarations and are available here:

13.    See the article by Mengfei Chen in New University, UC Irvine, Volume 42, Issue 25, Apr 20 2009:  Quote: “Journal prices have been increasing at several times the rate of inflation. Statistics complied by the Association of Research Libraries show that journal and other serial expenditures have increased by 340 percent since 1986. To put this into perspective, monograph, or book, expenditures have increased by a much smaller 87 percent in the same time period. This increase in prices has, according to Lorelei Tanji, UCI's Assistant University Librarian for Collections, made it increasingly difficult for libraries to afford the journals that researchers and student use. Libraries around the United States, including the UCs, have been forced to cut the less-used titles in their collection. Tanji pointed out that part of the problem is that authors are often unknowledgeable about their rights”.

14.   Bob Grant, Elsevier published 6 fake journals, The Scientist, May 7, 2009. See: Quote:
Scientific publishing giant Elsevier put out a total of six publications between 2000 and 2005 that were sponsored by unnamed pharmaceutical companies and looked like peer reviewed medical journals, but did not disclose sponsorship, the company has admitted…. An Elsevier spokesperson told The Scientist in an email that a total of six titles in a "series of sponsored article publications" were put out by their Australia office and bore the Excerpta Medica imprint from 2000 to 2005. These titles were: the Australasian Journal of General Practice, the Australasian Journal of Neurology, the Australasian Journal of Cardiology, the Australasian Journal of Clinical Pharmacy, the Australasian Journal of Cardiovascular Medicine, and the Australasian Journal of Bone & Joint [Medicine].” Elsevier declined to provide the names of the sponsors of these titles, according to the company spokesperson.” See also this response of May 12, 2009: “The Progressive Librarians Guild Calls for Elsevier to End Corrupt Publishing Practices  and for Library Associations to Take Advocacy Role on Behalf of Scientific Integrity” Quote: “Elsevier, which describes itself as the “world's leading publisher of scientific and health information”, was partner to the efforts of Merck & Co. to promote a hazardous drug that caused harm to the health of many unwitting victims “ For details, see :

15.   June 11, 2009: The journal publisher Taylor & Francis had purchased the Journal of Homosexuality from Haworth Press, but has now refused to publish a special issue of that journal on “Age-Structured Male Homosexuality: Multi-Disciplinary Perspectives”. The issue was to contain a long paper by Bruce Rind on pederasty in ancient Greece, drawing on history, animal studies and other data, and containing some new ideas of his in evolutionary psychology. The publisher felt that the paper was too controversial and did not accept the judgment of the editors. Here is a private e-mail communication about this case from a distinguished colleague: “Perhaps there ought to be some strong binding resolution that once an article has been appropriately peer reviewed that it will be published. … If the journal publishers exert censorship, authors should refuse to deal with that publisher and cancel subscriptions and advise our university libraries similarly.” See also

16.   E.J. Haeberle, “Sexology in the Internet - Our New Frontier”, April 2008:

17.   Library Journal 6/11/2009: “On the Same Page: Ten University Presses Support Open Access”: . The ten are:
University Press of Florida, University of Akron Press, University Press of New England, Athabasca University Press, Wayne State University Press, University of Calgary Press, University of Michigan Press, Rockefeller University Press, Penn State University Press, University of Massachusetts Press

18.   News from the National Academies, April 10, 2009:  “More Than 9,000 National Academies Reports Now Available in Open Access”

19.   Harvard University Gazette Online, Feb. 13, 2008:

20.    WHO: InteliHealth:,
Science Daily (Sexual Health)

21.   International Planned Parenthood Federation:, Guttmacher Institute:

22.   Some examples:

Sex, Illnesses, and Disability:

1.     Disability Social History Project

2.     International Society for Sexuality and Cancer

3.     National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research

4.     National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
To find resources by choosing a subject, use:
To find resources by entering keywords, use:
Advanced keyword search:

5.     The Sexual Health Network

6.     Disability Social History Project

7.     International Society for Sexuality and Cancer

8.     National Center for Medical Rehabilitation Research

9.     National Rehabilitation Information Center (NARIC)
To find resources by choosing a subject, use:
To find resources by entering keywords, use:
Advanced keyword search:

              Gender, Transgender, and Intersex Issues:

1.     WHO Department of Gender, Women and Health

2.     International Society for Men's Health and Gender

3.     EngenderHealth

4.     Gender and Health Equity Network

5.     The World Professional Association For Transgender Health (WPATH)

6.     Gender Talk

7.     Press For Change

8.     International Bill of Gender Rights

9.     International Foundation for Gender Education (IFGE) Online Resources

10.   Intersections - Gender, History & Culture in the Asian Context

11.   Intersex Society of North America

12.   Renaissance Transgender Association

13.   Surgical Treatment of Infants with Ambiguous Genitalia (on our own website)

14.   The International Journal of Transgenderism

15.   Transsexualism / Gender Transition FAQ

16.   Safra Project: Sexuality, Gender and Islam


18.   AEGIS Online

19.   Gender Public Advocacy Coalition

20.   Center for Gender Sanity

21.   Pacific Center for Sex and Society

                Sexual Orientation:

1. (bisexual community)

2.     ILGA Europe

3.     Human Rights Watch: This Alien Legacy - The Origins of "Sodomy" Laws in British Colonialism

4.     Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual Catholic Handbook

5.     Safra Project: Sexuality, Gender and Islam

6.     Lesbian and Gay Aging Issues Network (LGAIN)

7.     Lesbian and Gay History

8.     Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals

9.     Manifesto of the 1996 Tongzhi Conference

10.   Oasis Youth

11.   Gay Civil Unions

12.   Sociologists' Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgendered Caucus

13.   Al-Fatiha Foundation

14.   Bisexual Resource Center

15.   GLAAD - The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation

16.   Sexual orientation & religion: Soulforce

17.   The Gay & Lesbian Review

23. Iwan Bloch, The Sexual Life of Our Time, transl. by Eden Paul, New York: Allied Book Company 1908, pp.  ixx. See also:

24.  AACS;  and IASHS:
Dissertations and Research Papers since 1998:

25. Haeberle, Erwin J., Bullough, Vern L. and Bonnie Bullough, eds.: Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia:

26. Francoeur, Robert T., ed.: International Encyclopedia of Sexuality:

27. Janssen, D. F.: Growing Up Sexually (A four-part survey of anthropological literature).

28. Archive Online Library:

29. PAHO/WHO/WAS 2000: Promotion of Sexual Health - Recommendations for Action

30. Sexological Training Programs:

31. For example UC Berkeley, video lectures:
see also also Open Yale Courses:

32. MITOpenCourseWare:

33. An "Open Access" Curriculum in Sexual Health

34. Definition of “life sciences” by “Any of several branches of science, such as biology, medicine, anthropology, or ecology, that deal with living organisms and their organization, life processes, and relationships to each other and their environment”. See
35. Definition by the commercial site “Western New York: Life Sciences”: “The use of science and technology to improve the health and well-being of a population”. See

36. WAS, Montreal Declaration “Sexual Health for the Millennium”, 17th World Congress of Sexology, Montreal 2005:

37. The World Health Organization (WHO), in 1975, provided a first definition in a report about the sexological training of health professionals. This was augmented in a second report of  2001 which resulted from the cooperation of the WHO with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Association of Sexology (WAS). Also in 2001, the US Surgeon General issued A Call to Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible Sexual Behavior. In this document, he practically adopted the previous definitions provided by the WHO. In 2002, the WHO published a refined and amended definition on its web site section on gender and reproductive rights.

38. Knol:

39. WAS:

40. Archive for Sexology: