Alfred Kinsey, and Judith Reisman's Dirty Little Mind,
by Miss Poppy Dixon
The movie "Kinsey, Let's Talk About Sex," with Liam Neeson and Laura Linney, opened in selected theaters on November 12. This article is an updated version of a piece on one of Kinsey's contemporary detractors, Judith Reisman, which I originally had written and posted in 1996.
Judith Reisman, ready for her close up.
Judith Reisman was recently quoted in the Sunday Los Angeles Times as one of Alfred Kinsey's chief detractors. Indeed, she has made a career out of trying to discredit Kinsey, a career which we will review here. Reisman's work would be of little consequence were she not referenced by so many conservative Christian organizations, from the Family Research Council, to James Dobson's Focus on the Family, to Beverly LaHaye's Concerned Women of America. [ 1]
In the 1970s Judith Reisman was a singer on the Captain Kangaroo show. The chanteuse's career ended badly when the free-agent singer-songwriter ran headlong into modern market research and the crushing competition of what she later referred to as "the fast-action and increasing violence of cartoons on other stations." Retreating under the cover of artistic integrity she turned to academia, and a career in communications and media analysis. The fact that children's minds wandered during her music videos had to be about something other than the quality of her performance, and she was going to find out what it was.
Enter Alfred Kinsey: Reisman's personal scapegoat.
The move from kid's show celebrity to academia was not an easy one for Reisman. Intimidated by her husband, a university professor, and his colleagues, she reinvented herself as a doctor of communications, expert on pornography, and token Jewish friend of the American conservative religious right. In her Personal Odyssey she writes that the academicians she met were "...out of touch with the reality of the majority."[ 2 ]
Dr. Reisman began writing extensively on Dr. Alfred Kinsey. Her first book was self-published, by her occasionally defunct Institute for Media Education, of which whe is President. Her second Kinsey book, and another on pornography were published by Huntington House Books. Huntington House, along with its subsidiary Vital Issues Press, will publish almost any book on "conservative issues, politically incorrect exposés, christian apologetics, cults/occult, evangelism, family issues, anti-globalist issues" and "patriotism/survivalism" as it says in its appeal to prospective authors.
The sad thing is that Kinsey's books are highly accessible, written in straightforward prose interspersed with dry and witty commentary. But like that other unfortunate and unread tome, the Bible, it's become the handmaid of bloodless and shriveled interpreters.
Type Judith Reisman into the Amazon search engine and you'll see a display of out-of-print and yet-to-be-printed (World Net Daily Publishing) mentions. You can still dig up some of her books used. The obscurity of her work has not prevented her from becoming a regular writer for the right wing rag World Net Daily.
The online-only Journal of Human Sexuality, sponsored by Leadership U (a spinoff of Campus Crusade for Christ), has published Reisman's essay, Kinsey and the Homosexual Revolution. The essay is comprised of 31 complex and leading questions, questions designed to prejudice the reader, questions like "...what if all of Kinsey's work was fraudulent, or worse?", and "...could not some American scientists teach pederasts and pedophiles techniques for sexually abusing children for 'science'?", and "Was Kinsey himself a closet homosexual, pedophile or pederast?"
The answer to these questions is "no," which is why they're posed as questions and not as statements. Though Dr. Reisman includes tables and footnotes, she offers no proof or support for the innuendo she directs at Kinsey. In fact, her "research methods" could call her own background into question.
In her Personal Odyssey Reisman claims that rather than accommodate the criticism of her work for the good of the Captain Kangaroo show and her child fans, she decided quit the show. But, was this the real reason? Or is this just the way Reisman chooses to cover her real crime, and deny her guilt? She IS an expert witness on child pornography and pedophilia. Could the reason Reisman was asked to leave the Captain Kangaroo show be that she molested several of her young charges? No. But this is how complex questions work. In fact, after reading this article you may have difficulty remembering what was true, and what was only asked about, and forever wonder if Reisman is, or was, herself a child molester, even though I specifically stated that she is not.
Not exactly scientific, is it?
Please read Debunking Kinsey's Table 34, wherein Miss Poppy Dixon takes apart Judith Reisman's claims against Kinsey one by one.
THE PORN STUDY
In the early 1980s "the US Justice Department had given Reisman a grant for $734,371 to study pictures in Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler." [ 3 ] Reisman used the grant to confirm her conclusion of "Kinsey's role in child sexual abuse and the link to children appearing in mainstream pornography..." [ 4 ] Dr. Reisman poured over thousands of pages of pornographic literature. She felt herself persecuted at every turn and complained of a conspiracy to derail her efforts, going so far as to blame the Kinsey Institute for her inability to get published by a legitimate publishing house. [ 5 ]
And to an extent, she was persecuted, though not for the reasons she assumed. The Reagan-appointee who had commissioned the study, Alfred Regnery (the head of the conservative publishing house, Regnery Press), admitted he had been wrong to do so. Avedon Carol writes:
It was a scientific disaster, riddled with researcher bias and baseless assumptions. The American University (AU), where Reisman's study had been academically based, actually refused to publish it when she released it, after their independent academic auditor reported on it. Dr Robert Figlio of the University of Pennsylvania told AU that, 'The term child used in the aggregate sense in this report is so inclusive and general as to be meaningless.' Figlio told the press, 'I wondered what kind of mind would consider the love scene from Romeo and Juliet to be child porn'. (Carol, 1994, p.116) [ 6 ]
Dr Loretta Haroian, the cochair of the plenary session of Child and Adolescent Sexuality at the 1984 World Congress of Sexology, an expert on childhood sexuality, commented on Reisman's work,
This is not science, it's vigilantism: paranoid, pseudoscientific hyperbole with a thinly veiled hidden agenda. This kind of thing doesn't help children at all. ... [Reisman's] study demonstrates gross negligence and, while she seems to have spent a lot of time collecting her data, her conclusions, based on the data, are completely unwarranted. The experts Reisman cites are, in fact, not experts at all but simply people who have chosen to adopt some misinformed, Disneyland conception of childhood that she has. These people are little more than censors hiding behind Christ and children." (Carol, 1994, p.116). [ 7 ]
There were difficulties in publishing the study, though Reisman tends to gloss over this fact as illustrated in the case of The State of Ohio vs. the Contemporary Art Center and Dennis Barrie (Mapplethorpe and Cincinnati). Dr. Reisman was called to testify as an expert witness.
Mezibov, the defense attorney "asks if [Reisman's] study has been published by the Justice Department. 'It is on the shelf. It was published. You can buy copies.' A series of truths, not adding up to the truth.
"Mezibov pulls out the pretrial testimony. 'You said before that there was a six-year delay, that the study was published not by the Justice Department but by Huntington Press. Would you like to change your answer?'" [ 8 ]
The Executive Summmary of Reisman's study was eventually published by Donald Wildmon's American Family Association.
KINSEY - 1, REISMAN - 0
In 1990 Reisman wrote Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud, with Edward Eichel, published by Vital Issues Press (Huntington House). Reisman describes the book on her web site claiming that "Kinsey's research involved illegal experimentation on several hundred children."
The Kinsey Institute refuted Reisman's allegations prompting a lawsuit filed in 1991 by Reisman against the Institute's then director June Reinisch and Indiana University. Reisman alleged defamation of character and slander. Reisman's attorney "withdrew from the case" in 1993, and "in June 1994 the court dismissed Reisman's case with prejudice [which means that Reisman is prohibited from refiling the suit]." [ 9 ]
Read the Kinsey Institute's response to Reisman's claims: Allegations about Childhood data in the 1948 book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
After almost thirty years Dr. Reisman has made it back to television..., in a way. She was recently portrayed by actress Nancy Beatty in Showtime's movie Dirty Pictures, starring James Woods. Woods plays Dennis Barrie, of the Cincinnati Arts Center. Both Barrie, and the CAC, were charged with obscenity for hosting Robert Mapplethorpe's controversial show The Perfect Moment
Nancy Beatty delivers a perfectly brittle performance, gesticulating elaborately as her character attempts to describe the way the light emphasizes a penis in one of Mapplethorpe's photographs. Woods quips to his attorney "What is this, porno for the deaf?"
Later in deliberation the jury amuses itself mimicking Beatty's performance as Reisman. Though lampooned by the left-wing, liberal media elite, in real life, despite her expert testimony, the jury consisting of midwest Ohio citizens delivered a unanimous verdict of not guilty.
HOUSE RESOLUTION 2749
In December of 1995 House Resolution 2749 was introduced to the House by Representative by Steve Stockman, [ 10 ] and 40 cohorts. The bill's short title is "Child Protection and Ethics I Education Act of 1995," while the official title offers an idea of what the bill is really about - "A bill to determine if Alfred Kinsey's 'Sexual Behavior in the Human Male' and/or 'Sexual Behavior in the Human Female' are the result of any fraud or criminal wrongdoing." Reisman makes much of the bill in her curriculum vitae, "This Bill is the culmination of Dr. Reisman's 20-years of research and advocacy for children. A Senate hearing waits in the wings." It's been nine years.
Who is Representative Steve Stockman, the man who introduced HR 2749? He is a Texan swept from oblivion to the US Congress on the 1994 conservative wave. Dubbed "Congressman Clueless" by Mimi Swartz of The Texas Monthly, he described himself in an interview with the American Enterprise Organization [ 11 ],
I didn't even have a car at one point. In the summer of '80 I was living in the Ft. Worth Water Gardens. I didn't go to the government for help when I was homeless. I collected cans to earn money to eat. Hunger was a tremendous incentive to get up and work. And in the long run, it taught me the work ethic. I ended up going from a person who didn't like to work to now being called a workaholic, because I have that fear or understanding of what it's like to go hungry. I was 110 pounds and now I'm up to 208. So I caught up a lot.
Stockman later became born-again and joined socially-conservative Christians to reclaim America. In Congress he signed Newt Gingrich's Contract with America, and was known for mandatory prayer meetings for his office staff.
The religious right had high hopes for Stockman as he tried to make a name for himself by signing his first pieces of legislation - "bills designed, variously, to 'provide that human life shall be deemed to exist from conception'; to 'repeal prohibitions relating to semiautomatic assault weapons and large-capacity, ammunition-feeding devices'; and to determine if Alfred Kinsey's well-known books on sexual behavior are 'the result of any fraud or criminal wrongdoing.'" [ 12 ]
How much influence did Reisman's work have on this legislation? As well as being long-time Reisman supporters, Donald Wildmon of American Family Association (her ostensible employer), Gary Bauer of Family Research Council and Beverly La Haye of Concerned Women for America are also members of the ultra right-wing organization Council on National Policy founded by Tim La Haye. Who else is a member? Representative Steve Stockman. Members of the CNP donated over $35,000 to Stockman's 96 campaign via Phyllis Shlafley's Eagle Forum, the Gun Owners of America, and the Majority Leader's Fund (Dick Armey) - all members of the CNP. [ 13 ]
House Resolution 2749 died in committee. It was not debated on the floor.
Stockman was defeated in 1996, after one term, by Nick Lampson. Democrats were successful in charging that Stockman was a "right-wing extremist with ties to militia groups." [ 14 ] Perhaps now Huntington House will publish his memoirs.
Let's review. First Reisman 'leaves' the Captain Kangaroo show. Then she accepts over $700K for a report that both her university and the Justice Department refuse to publish. She sues the Kinsey Institute for defamation, loses, and is forbidden to try again. She appears as an expert witness at The State of Ohio vs. the Contemporary Art Center and Dennis Barrie (Mapplethorpe and Cincinnati) and the defense has her for lunch. And finally, she supports a bill introduced by a wet-behind-the-ears, born-again freshman Congressman from Texas, which never even makes it to the floor. It's unlikely Reisman could get arrested at this point. Yet what makes her dangerous is the rarely questioned nature of her writings, and her association with ultra-conservative religious policy makers.
In Kinsey's highly readable 'Sexual Behavior in the Human Male' he writes,
It is, precisely, the function of a population analysis to help in the understanding of particular individuals by showing their relation to the remainder of the group. [Kinsey's emphasis] ...Without such a background, each individual becomes unique and unexplainable except through an elaborate investigation of him as an isolated entity. [ 15 ]
By attempting to prevent access to information about sex, social conservatives attempt to separate the individual from his social context and exploit his insecurities. By convincing an individual that his sexual interests are aberrations that grieve an ever voyeuristic God, social conservatives can control that person through both fear and guilt. Factual information about sexuality, and an individual's relation to the group, serve as a pure light - banishing ignorance and healing fear and guilt, bringing the individual back into the social milieu to which he belongs.
Kinsey has admitted that his sample was not adequate to draw firm conclusions, and longed for a more comprehensive study to be conducted in the future. But the research Kinsey provided has given people a context for their own sexuality, protecting them from the priests and witch doctors who are ever ready to pry and condemn.
Reisman's claims about the inadequacy of Kinsey's work would bear more weight if they called for new, and more comprehensive studies of sexuality. But this is not the case. Reisman and her cronies labor to outlaw any kind of informational sex education not based on conservatively interpreted biblical principles. Free of factual data on sex Dr. Reisman and her followers are at liberty to publish any kind of unsupported nonsense they choose about sex, homosexuality, and pornography.
DISCUSSION ON THIS ARTICLE
Discussion on Alfred Kinsey and Judith Reisman
OTHER LINKS TO CREDIBLE REVIEWS OF THE MOVIE
Bartholomew's notes on religion | Wingnuts say "Baa" to Kinsey
Bartholomew's notes on religion | You’ll Get Orchitis If You Do That
1. Organizational links to Reisman's works:
Family Research Council Links (The FRC site search yields only 1 link, though a Google search yields 5)
Concerned Women for America Links
Focus on the Family Links
Dr. Reisman was on the payroll of The American Family Association. This was revealed when she was called to testify in the case of The State of Ohio vs. the Contemporary Art Center and Dennis Barrie (Mapplethorpe and Cincinnati).
"Joseph hands him a copy of the A.F.A. [Donald Wildmon's American Family Association] tax return. Mezibov shows it to Reisman, uses it to establish that she has received thousands of dollars from the Reverend Wildmon's anti-porn group. Showing her a copy of an article that appeared in the Washington Times, a review in which she labeled Mapplethorpe a fascist artist, he points out that it is signed "Judith Reisman, associate research director of the American Family Association. She is an apologist for the pressure groups that provoked this trial..."
SHOWDOWN IN CINCINNATI, by James R. Peterson, March 1991
2)"Having spent the last fifteen years at a university as a professor's wife, I was both keenly aware of the regard the world had for those with advanced degrees and often disappointed in what I privately considered a lack of intellectual curiosity and vigor within the educated community. I found faculty parties and conversations somehow lacking in a basic sort of common sense, and for all their degrees, most academicians seemed to welcome being out of touch with the reality of the majority."
A Personal Odyssey to the Truth, By Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D., undated.
"United States Department of Justice, The Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Project No. 84-JN-AX-K007. Images of Children, Crime and Violence in Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler Magazines. According to Reisman's site, an Executive Summary was first published by The American Family Association.
"...in 1984, the US Justice Department had given Reisman a grant for $734,371 to study pictures in Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler. She claims that these magazines published 6,000 cartoons, photos and other illustrations of children between 1954 and 1984."
The X-Rated Hoax: A tale of harridans, charlatans & poppycock | Evangelical Psychologistsby Irene Graham, of Burning Issues August 18, 1999
4) A Personal Odyssey
5) "The commercial sex industry now joined forces with the Kinsey Institute and academic sexology to prevent any light from being shed on their world. In time I would obtain copies of secret letters and packages, clandestinely sent worldwide by the Kinsey Institute and pornographers, to discredit my investigation into Kinsey and that of children appearing in their magazines....All along, the Kinsey Institute maintained a constant, stealth effort, largely censoring me and my findings from the print and broadcast media, all relevant professional conferences and journals, book publishers and such." A Personal Odyssey to the Truth, By Judith A. Reisman, Ph.D. Date last modified, Jan 3, 2000.
6)Carol, Avedon 1994, NUDES, PRUDES and ATTITUDES: PORNOGRAPHY and CENSORSHIP, New Clarion Press, Gloucester, p. 156-158.
7)Ibid., p. 156-158.
8)SHOWDOWN IN CINCINNATI, by James R. Peterson, PLAYBOY March 1991.
"Kinsey, Sex & Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People," by Dr. Judith A Reisman, Edward W. Eichel. Publisher: Huntington House, P.O. Box 53788, Lafayette, LA 70505, 800-749-4009.
Kinsey Institute News Release: Bancroft Responds to Allegations from Family Research Council John Bancroft, director of Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction, September 6, 1995.
Bill Summary and Status for the 104th Congress, H.R.2749, Child Protection and Ethics I Education Act of 1995. The Kinsey Institute Response to HR 2749 to which Stockman refused to respond.
11) Firebreathers: Interviews with Six House Freshmen, American Enterprise Organization
12) Wacko, Texas: A legislative loose cannon takes aim on government, by Larry Bensky, Mother Jones.
13) Federal Election Commission records on contributions to Steve Stockman's 1994, and 1996 campaigns.
14) 29 House Incumbents Bolt Out Of The Starting Gate, by Marc Birtel, CQ Staff Writer
15 ) Alfed C. Kinsey, Wardell B. Pomeroy, Clyde E. Martin, SEXUAL BEHAVIOR IN THE HUMAN MALE, (W.B. Saunders Company, Philadelphia and London, 1948), p. 26.