External Articles | Posted: March 20, 2011
The Culture Wars: Why Know?
By Daniel Radosh
The New Yorker, December 6, 2004
When Judith Reisman and Eunice Van Winkle Ray lectured together recently in Nashville, Mrs. Ray was introduced by her husband, Colonel Ronald Ray, who grabbed the audience's attention by announcing that the United States "lost the most important war of the twentieth century." He was referring not to Vietnam, where he served, but to the sexual revolution. "Many of us are casualties of the sexual revolution," he said cryptically. Mrs. Ray then took the lectern and presented an overview, complete with charts, of our current state of sexual degeneracy: the repeal of laws against abortion, adultery, fornication, and even sodomy. All of this they trace back to the work of one man: Alfred Kinsey.
The recent release of "Kinsey," a film about the famous mid-century sex researcher, has made this a busy time for the anti-Kinsey movement. Most Americans no longer give much thought to Kinsey as a societal force, but his detractors believe that his significance can hardly be overstated. A recent newsletter of the abstinence-education group Why know? compared the publication of "The Kinsey Report," in 1948, to the attacks of September 11th, and labelled Kinseyism "fifty years of cultural terrorism."
Judith Reisman is the founder of the modern anti-Kinsey movement. She spent a week in Washington, D.C., recently, talking to people on Capitol Hill about opening a congressional investigation into Kinsey's work. The new film, she said, is "deceptive and malevolently misleading, to say the least." A sixty-nine-year-old independent researcher with a Ph.D. in communications and a former songwriter for Captain Kangaroo, Reisman is the president of the Institute for Media Education and the lead author of "Kinsey, Sex and Fraud" and "Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences." In one article, Reisman describes Kinsey as "a scientific and moral fraud, a certifiable sexual psychopath as well as a sadomasochistic pornography addict and a sexually harassing bully." Though largely unknown outside social-conservative circles, Reisman has been influential within them. She has served as a consultant to the Departments of Education and Health and Human Services and was given seven hundred and thirty-four thousand dollars by Ronald Reagan's Justice Department to study pornography. More recently, she has been active in the rise of abstinence-only education; in June, her colleagues gave her an Abstie Award for lifetime achievement. Last week, Reisman testified at a congressional hearing about the dangers of pornography addiction, saying that police should be required to collect evidence of pornography consumption at any crime scene.
"Dr. Kinsey's most egregious fraud is that he wasn't a scientist," Reisman said the other day. "He was an ideologue who was most importantly a sex offender at best, and, beyond being a sex offender, he was certainly a child sexual abuser and/or solicitor and guide in the perpetration of that abuse." At the root of this accusation is an interview that Kinsey conducted with a sexual predator who kept detailed records of his activities with hundreds of women, men, and children.
But it is not simply Kinsey's neutrality toward such people that upsets Reisman. She claims that Kinsey actively solicited pedophiles to molest children and report back to him. In fact, she said, "there is absolutely no reason to believe that Kinsey himself was not involved in the sexual abuse of these children." (None of Kinsey's four biographers have turned up any evidence that he was.) Reisman also believes that Kinsey died not from heart failure but from what she calls "brutal, repetitive self-abuse."
To a reader of Reisman's scholarly papers, it sometimes appears that there is little for which she does not hold Kinsey responsible. In her research on gays, for instance, she has written that the "recruitment techniques" of homosexuals rival those of the Marine Corps. The Kinsey paradigm, she holds, created the moral framework that makes such recruitment possible. Reisman also endorses a book called "The Pink Swastika," which challenges the "myths" that gays were victimized in Nazi Germany. The Nazi Party and the Holocaust itself, she writes, were largely the creation of "the German homosexual movement." Thanks to Alfred Kinsey, she warns, the American homosexual movement is poised to repeat those crimes. "Idealistic 'gay youth' groups are being formed and staffed in classrooms nationwide by recruiters too similar to those who formed the original 'Hitler youth.' "
Reisman was not always a counter-revolutionary. Her parents were members of the American Communist Party, and she belonged to the Labor Youth League in Los Angeles in the nineteen-forties. But the sexual revolution caught her off guard, and she became concerned, first, about the spread of pornography. It was at an academic conference in Wales in the late nineteen-seventies that Reisman discovered Kinsey. She was lecturing on evidence of child pornography in Playboy cartoons, when, as she recalled it, a mysterious man approached her and said, "If you're really concerned about child sexual abuse you have to look at 'The Kinsey Reports.' I said, 'Why?' and he said, 'I worked with Kinsey and his aide Wardell Pomeroy. One is a pedophile and the other is homosexual.' I said, 'Which is which?' and he said, 'Read and discover,' and he walked away and changed my life."
Reisman won't say exactly whom she met with on Capitol Hill, but she was "very encouraged" by the response. She is hoping that someone will revive H.R. 2749, a bill introduced, at Reisman's urging, in 1995 to determine if "The Kinsey Reports" "are the result of any fraud or criminal wrongdoing." It has been languishing since its sponsor, Congressman Steve Stockman, of Texas, lost his bid for reëlection in 1996. "I certainly would like to see a congressional investigation. Let Congress establish the truth of this matter. Or let it go to a courtroom." She hopes that the film (along with two forthcoming television documentaries and a recent novel by T. C. Boyle) will foster a backlash, or at least persuade some of Kinsey's alleged eight hundred child victims to finally come forward. She envisions a class-action lawsuit modelled after the Big Tobacco trials. She said, "Suddenly, people ask, 'So much cost in celluloid, books, and press for some obscure sexual deviant in Indiana--who is profiting?' Follow the money."
Ultimately, Reisman and her colleagues hope to discredit not only Kinsey but the entire field of sexology which he created, and what she calls "the sexindustrial complex" that has grown out of it. "One doesn't measure American sexual habits," she said. "That's not a science."