Discussions about sexuality have often been assigned to the taboo section of our society, and the lack of conversation and clarity around such an important topic can result in years of confusion about one’s true sexual identity. Luckily, there’s now a scale to help you express your sexual orientation in a way that’s more varied — and thus, arguably accurate — than the limited options we were previously working with. An update to the old Kinsey scale, the Purple-Red Scale of Attraction factors in more than simply whether you like men or women (because there are, indeed, a great many possibilities in between).
I can personally remember undergoing a middle school sex education class that wasn’t really all that educational. There was the standard condom over banana (done with much giggling), but that’s about where it ended. It was more about teaching abstinence than how to have healthy sexual relationships. We saw pictures of infected genitalia to warn us about the dangers of STDs, and of course the condom demonstration was done strictly in the context of the heterosexual sex we would all one day have when we were married. The idea that some of my classmates may go on to openly identify as gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, or genderqueer never even occurred to my teachers.
The good news is that Generation Z is largely much more on the “queer is NBD” wave. In fact, people ages 13-34 find gender binaries more of a pesky nuisance than ever before, according to a recent study by the J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group — so much so that only a mere 48 percent of Gen Z-ers identified as exclusively heterosexual.
And while it’s amazing that we’re moving toward a culture of acceptance, our generational tolerance of gender and sexual fluidity brings another important conversation to the forefront: representation. Too often, even the most open-minded of us tend to categorize sexual orientation into neat boxes like heterosexual, bi-sexual, lesbian, gay, etc.
However, the reality is that even the most commonly accepted labels don’t encompass the entire spectrum of sexuality. That’s where the Purple-Red scale comes in handy. Designed by Southern California-based awesome person Langdon Parks, the Purple-Red scale is a more inclusive update on famous sexologist Alfred Kinsey’s well-known Kinsey Scale.
While the Kinsey scale primarily considers what kind of sex you like (i.e. do you prefer to get it in with men or women?), Parks’s update takes into account those of us who’d prefer not to get it in at all and those of us who just can’t seem to stop getting it in.
Like the Kinsey scale, the Purple-Red answer works on a number system ranging from zero to six, with each of the numbers representing your level of same-sex or heterosexual attraction. Like any good game of Never Have I Ever, things get more interesting when there’s an addition. In this case, it’s the introduction of a lettered scale that runs from A to F. A is assigned to those who feel completely asexual, which Parks labels as having “a total lack of interest in sex besides friendship and/or aesthetic attraction.” F, on the other hand, represents hyper-sexuality, and the letters in between represent the different levels of sexuality that fall in the middle. You can take the super simple test below by finding the letter and number combo that best describes you.
By including both traditional parameters and new parameters inspired by his own observations of different ways of being sexual, Parks hopes to bring more people to the realization that sexuality is extremely multifaceted.
For those who believe that labels in any form are harmful, Parks’s update might seem like another fancy way of creating systems that just make it easier to stigmatize those who aren’t part of the majority. However, clearly delineating where someone falls on the orientation scale can serve a larger purpose.
The test can provide clarity about the disposition of a partner prior to starting a platonic or intimate relationship. In this way, it can actually work to de-stigmatize some of the lesser-known orientations by opening up the dialogue about what it means to be an A or a C4, or whatever you may identify with.
I’ll say this: If I were single, I’d totally have my number and letter in my Tinder profile (shoutout to my fellow E3s).
Original by Stephanie Smith-Strickland