Sexual FantasiesJACK CAHILL
For a century, "progressive" writers and filmmakers have been using falsehood and fraud as primary weapons in their assault on traditional American culture.
greatest crimes do not arise from a want of feeling for others
- Edmund Burke
Nor can one doubt her commitment to "birth control," the cause to which she dedicated her career. If she trafficked in bad science, there was a lot of bad science in her day to traffic in. There is no real evidence that she did so deliberately.
Remember, though, that fraud is almost inevitably a collaborative effort. As Nazi Germany moved from talk to action on the eugenics front in the late1930s, Sanger and her allies began to see that they had a problem at hand, a big one Sanger's literary record tracked goosestep for unholy goosestep with that of her most notorious contemporary. Given her donor base, that record had to be scrubbed. This was not an axis with which it paid to be identified.
Despite the potential for embarrassment, the cultural establishment dared not turn its back on the already iconic Sanger. She had proved herself essential to the flowering of the sexual revolution, and no organization would prove more critical to its sustenance than Planned Parenthood. To this day, the organization does not disguise Sanger's importance. "Margaret Sanger gained worldwide renown, respect, and admiration for founding the American birth control movement and, later, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America," reads the proud tribute to Sanger on the Planned Parenthood Web site.
What Planned Parenthood has disguised with the help of the cultural establishment is the very core of Sanger's philosophy. True, the organization does admit that some of the "popular ideas" she adopted are "out of keeping with our thinking today." But from Planned Parenthood's perspective, Sanger's "visionary accomplishments" so overwhelm those "outmoded" ideas that the latter are scarcely worth talking about. Always helpful, Planned Parenthood provides a guide to help the curious and to put Sanger's views in perspective. As one might expect, however, the Planned Parenthood "fact sheet" is almost pure fiction.
Fortunately, Sanger herself has left a detailed record of how she lived and how she thought. The most unimpeachable source of the former is her autobiography, written in 1938, and of the latter, her landmark book, The Pivot of Civilization, written in 1922. Sanger wrote clearly and powerfully. Her books offer as insightful a look as any ever written on the development of the radical community in the United States. As it happens, however, only her critics want you to read them.
Although she would later fudge the date to 1883, Margaret Sanger was born in 1879 in Corning, New York, the sixth of what would prove to be eleven children. Oddly, one atheist Web site insists that Sanger came from a "devoutly Catholic family," all the better, one presumes, to position her as someone who saw the light and abandoned her faith. But the site errs. The dominant figure in Sanger's childhood, her Irish immigrant father, was an outspoken socialist and agnostic who seems to have shamed his daughter out of any Christian affections by the time she was an adolescent.
Michael Higgins saw Christianity as a largely inoffensive pastime for the weak-minded. As a means of reform, he much preferred politics to religion. "In fact," writes Sanger of her father, "he took up Socialism because he believed it put Christian philosophy into practice, and to me its ideals still come nearest to carrying out what Christianity was supposed to do."
When first married, Sanger contented herself with the simple delights of bourgeois motherhood. She had three children in rapid succession "and wanted at least four more as quickly as my health would permit." Her health, however, did not oblige. The birth of her third child caused complications that led her to stop at three. It probably didn't matter. She was already losing interest in homemaking, and a new class of prophets was luring her to the world beyond her home.
"A religion without a name was spreading over the country," Sanger enthuses. "The converts were liberals, socialists, anarchists, revolutionists of all shades." Now living in New York in these heady days before World War I, Sanger wanted part of the action. Like her new radical friends, she had thrown over her own personal ancien regime and was eager to embrace something new. "Each believed he had a key to the gates of heaven," she writes of her fellow radicals. "Each was trying to convert the others."
Although Sanger joined the Socialist Party, Local Number Five, she did so more out of fashion than faith. Unlike her new comrades, she sensed that many of the prophets in this suddenly godless world were false ones. Uninspired by socialism, she found her own calling quite by chance. One evening, a scheduled lecturer had to cancel, and the organizer asked Sanger to fill in. Knowing little about politics, she spoke about what she did know: health. And she made a great hit with the women present. This led her to start a series of columns called "What Every Mother Should Know" followed by another, more sexually charged series called "What Every Girl Should Know." And a career was born.
No doubt, her advocacy for women's rights was deeply felt and genuine. After a trip to assess attitudes in Europe more enlightened than those in America, but of course Sanger returned to New York and in 1914 launched her own publication. She called it Woman Rebel. Never one for subtlety, Sanger adopted the altogether revealing slogan: "No Gods. No Masters." In the first issue, the increasingly radical Sanger argued that women had a duty "to look the world in the eyes; to have an idea; to speak and act in defiance of convention." Sanger did just that. Her attempt to preach the gospel of women's rights led to some inspired battles with the protectors of tradition and more than a few arrest warrants along the way.
In late 1914, Sanger met Ellis, and the meeting left her nearly giddy. "He, beyond any other person, has been able to clarify the question of sex," writes Sanger, "and free it from the smudginess connected with it from the beginning of Christianity, raise it from the dark cellar, set it on a higher plane."
As Sanger saw it, Christianity treated sex as though it were a vice and yet insisted that married couples indulge in it without restriction. This paradox maddened her. Even before she had found her faith, she had found her antichrist in the Christian establishment, particularly Catholicism. The faith was evolving. She thought the French idea of a one or two child family too narrow and the British neo-Malthusianism too materialistic. She yearned for a female self-mastery that was "bigger and freer" than either. At a spirited meeting with a few companions, they hit upon the ideal concept and gave it a name: "birth control."
Curiously, Sanger admits to having no great sense of compassion for the less fortunate, a seeming drawback for their would-be liberator. "I hated the wretchedness and hopelessness of the poor," she writes, "and never experienced that satisfaction in working among them that so many noble women have found."
Sanger saw the poor not as a people to be helped but as a problem to be solved, and birth control offered the perfect solution. If The Pivot of Civilization is as loud and clear as a bell about this solution, The Autobiography of Margaret Sanger is almost entirely silent. Despite the fact that The Pivot of Civilization was Sanger's most influential book, there is but one brief passing mention of it in the autobiography and almost no mention of a core idea that inspired Pivot.
It is not hard to understand the silence. The autobiography was published in 1938, the same year that Hitler consumed Austria and half of Czechoslovakia, the same year that Nazi propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, made the following declaration:
Our starting point is not the individual, and we do not subscribe to the view that one should feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, or clothe the naked. . . . Our objectives are entirely different: we must have a healthy people in order to prevail in the world.Now consider the following from Sanger's The Pivot of Civilization, one that makes Goebbels's proclamation seem, by comparison, a model of restraint.
. . . the most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective. Possibly drastic and Spartan methods may be forced upon American society if it continues complacently to encourage the chance and chaotic breeding that has resulted from our stupid, cruel sentimentalism.
Books offer a useful gauge of intent. There is nothing hasty about them, and this book came at the peak of Sanger's celebrity and influence in 1922. Planned Parenthood is forever chastising pro-life advocates for quoting Margaret Sanger out of context, but Pivot is all context. At the time of its publication, Sanger was in her early forties and no dilettante. Indeed, she had left her husband and all but abandoned her children to further her cause. She also writes more powerfully, methodically, and logically than almost any of her radical peers.
In Sanger's view, these two urges complement each other. "The potential mother," she writes, "can then be shown that maternity need not be slavery but may be the most effective avenue to self-development and self-realization. Upon this basis only may we improve the quality of the race."
A product of her age, Sanger had absorbed the Darwinian ethos and made it her own. "We must temper our emotion and enthusiasm with the impersonal determination of science," she argues, and she uses the available science at every opportunity to reinforce her thesis. Often, this science borders on the darkly humorous.
Sanger has a particular weakness for "modern studies." Those she cites manage to prove just about anything she wants to prove. One study, for instance, confirms "that the least intelligent and the thoroughly degenerate classes in every community are the most prolific." To bolster this contention, she cites a Sir James Crichton-Browne who had apparently proved that "the feeble-minded woman is twice as prolific as the normal one."
A Dr, Tredgold is even more specific. According to his studies, "degenerate families" average 7.3 children compared to the 4 that normal families have. Worse, only 36 percent of the degenerate offspring 456 out of a total of 1,269 contribute to society in any positive way, and this relatively cheery evaluation comes from their presumably fawning parents. Other studies are broader still in their implications and in their black comedy. In the following, Sanger's rhetoric foreshadows the barrier-leaping, pseudo-sci-fi scare language of the imagined heterosexual AIDS epidemic to come:
There is every indication that feeble-mindedness in its protean forms is on the increase, that it has leaped the barriers, and that there is truly, as some of the scientific eugenists (sic) have pointed out, a feeble-minded peril to future generations unless the feeble-minded are prevented from reproducing their kind. To meet this emergency is the immediate and peremptory duty of every State and of all communities.Sanger makes it entirely clear that "feeble-mindedness" is more than a superficial problem. Even if society could turn these people from a life of crime or degeneracy to some more docile pursuit, the real issue "the intelligence of the community" is not addressed. Here again, science sheds light on the problem:
The advent of the Binet-Simon and similar psychological tests indicates that the mental defective who is glib and plausible, bright looking and attractive, but with a mental vision of seven, eight, or nine years, may not merely lower the whole level of intelligence in a school or in a society, but may be encouraged by church and state to increase and multiply until he dominates and gives the prevailing "color" culturally speaking to an entire community.The new science of psychology had shown Sanger the scary breadth of the problem. She cites a study by a Robert M. Yerkes, which claimed that nearly half of all American draftees 47.3 percent to be precise "had the mentality of twelve-year-old children or less." In other words, says Sanger with her typical subtlety, "They are morons."
Traditional philanthropy, if anything, is crueler still. "Organized charity," writes Sanger, "itself is the symptom of a malignant social disease." By keeping so many "defectives, delinquents, and dependents" alive and breeding, charity at some point becomes an injustice for the self-supporting citizen and a "positive injury to the future of the race." Salvation Army bell ringers get nothing from Sanger but the evil eye. She writes off their efforts as a "debauch of sentimentalism" and argues that they did more harm than good.
Although Sanger applauds the "new vitality" of "Marxian Socialism," she thinks that socialism rather misses the point. Her analysis of Marx just a few years after the Russian revolution is dead on. Few of her intellectual peers would ever see through the Marxist-Leninist illusion as clearly as Sanger did.
As Sanger smartly argues, the Marxists had to reduce all behavior to "class conflict," whether that behavior fit or not. Consequently, its predictions were almost inevitably wrong. Worse, from her perspective, Marxism, as taught, relieved the proletariat of all responsibility for just about everything, including "its reckless breeding." As far as Sanger could tell, the Marxist leadership encouraged the masses to perpetuate their misery, and she had little use for its propaganda.
Sanger's most interesting philosophical flirtation was with the eugenics movement. In the years post-Hitler, the very phrase "eugenics" has taken on a nasty taint, and Planned Parenthood is quick to absolve its founding mother of any association with the same.
"Margaret Sanger was not a racist, an anti-Semite, or a eugenicist," declares its Web site definitively. Here, Planned Parenthood fudges big time. Sanger did not believe in eugenics. From her perspective, the eugenics movement did not go far enough. So Sanger went one step further into the realm of "negative eugenics." This is her real Scarlet Letter, one now kept under lock and key.
As Planned Parenthood rather lamely explains, Nazis were eugenicists. They opposed the use of abortion and contraception by "fit" women. Nazis also directed the procreative energy of the fit towards the state. Through education and persuasion, the state would try to inspire the fit to outbreed the unfit. This much is true.
The Margaret Sanger of 1922 dismissed this strategy as a "cradle competition." She thought it lethally weak in the knees. Eugenics advocates had no plan for dealing with that "ever-increasing army of under-sized, stunted, and dehumanized slaves." Any plan to outbreed these people would inevitably fail the race and deny fit women mastery over their own biological destiny. Society simply could not leave to "chance and chaotic breeding" the perpetuation of the unfit. Sanger insists on more active measures, measures that might have to be "drastic and Spartan." If Sanger does not yoke the destinies of fit women to the "state" per se, she constantly evokes their responsibility to the race, the society, and the community, even if indirectly.
As Planned Parenthood tirelessly repeats, Sanger was not a racist. This is true in that she does not specifically single out African Americans for elimination. The reason why, however, is that she does not have to. Sanger's audience was prepared to believe that most, if not all, African Americans would fall within that "moron" half of the population to be squeezed out of existence.
In Pivot, for instance, Sanger cites in detail the case of a "Negro woman" who had given birth to sixteen children. By Sanger's generous standards, all sixteen of them appeared to be criminal or degenerate. They lived, as if they had much choice, in "a thickly populated Negro district." To no one's surprise, this district was reported to be "the headquarters for the criminal element of the surrounding State." Given the biases of the day, her audience would assume this woman to be more or less typical of her race, a symptom of the "sexual and racial chaos" that so alarmed Sanger. In Pivot, Sanger says nothing to suggest otherwise.
Sanger's American Birth Control League and its allies had enormous influence in their day. Two years after The Pivot of Civilization was published, the Immigration Restriction Act was passed into law thanks in large part of the supporting testimony of the Eugenics Records Office. In 1927, in a now notorious case known as Buck v. Bell, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted the state of Virginia's ruling that Carrie Buck and her infant daughter were mentally defective and thus deserving of forced sterilization.
"It is better for all the world," wrote famed progressive jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., "if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind." Sanger could not have said it better herself. Joining Holmes in that decision was his equally celebrated progressive colleague, Louis Brandeis, who was himself Jewish. Ironically, if perhaps disingenuously, a German doctor during the Nuremberg trials would cite Buck v. Bell as the precedent for Nazi race hygiene and sterilization programs.
By 1938, the year of Sanger's autobiography, some thirty American states had mandatory sterilization laws. The next year, Germany would launch its infamous T-4 program, which targeted physically and mentally handicapped children for death by poisoning and starvation. To be fair, Sanger would not have approved. In Pivot, for instance, she argues against the proposition "that the community could or should send to the lethal chamber the defective progeny resulting from irresponsible and unintelligent breeding," but she argues this point so matter-of-factly that she makes such a truly ghastly option seem almost respectable.
"After World War II, nobody was a eugenicist, and nobody had ever been a eugenicist," writes Michael Crichton in the appendix to State of Fear. "Biographers of the celebrated and the powerful did not dwell on the attractions of this philosophy to their subjects, and sometimes did not mention it at all."
By the time Sanger died in 1966, the cultural establishment had transformed her into the Mother Teresa of birth control. "Eugenics" does not appear among the 2200 glowing words in that ultimate arbitrator of establishment worth, the New York Times obituary. Nor do "sterilization," "Buck v. Bell," "racial chaos," "mentally defective," "abortion," "Nazi," or anything of the kind.
The Margaret Sanger that the Times reader is asked to remember is a "dynamic, titian-haired woman whose Irish ancestry also endowed her with unfailing charm and persuasive wit." The only quibble that the Times raises is that her opposition to the Catholic Church led her to oppose the election of president John F. Kennedy.
In fact, so strong was Sanger's opposition to the Church that she had threatened a threat then novel among the elite to leave the country if Kennedy were elected. The Times, however, offers this tidbit not as a criticism, but as proof of her tenacity. Indeed, Sanger's "years of birth control advocacy appeared to be making an inroad in Rome" enthuses the obituary writer. What is more, a papal commission was about to propose "leaving the matter of specific birth control techniques to the individual Catholic conscience." In short, the wonder-working Sanger was about to save the Catholic Church from its own follies. Two years later, of course, Pope Paul VI issued the encyclical Humanae Vitae reaffirming the church's position in spades.
The Supreme Court's Roe v. Wade decision in 1973 should have solidified Sanger's reputation for all time. In legalizing abortion, however, the Court unwittingly launched a countermovement. If Sanger's progressive friends were willing to forget her enthusiasm for negative eugenics, the growing pro-life forces wanted everyone to remember. Indeed, it is they who have kept The Pivot of Civilization alive and have caused Planned Parenthood to play defense with Sanger's reputation.
Despite their numbers and their votes, however, pro-lifers have as little impact on the cultural establishment as any millions of well-educated citizens could possibly have. For the most part, the major media ignore their very existence. As testament, there has not been to date a single sympathetic pro-life portrait, real or fictional, in any extended broadcast format.
There are plenty of heroes on the other side. In 1995, the TV movie Choices of the Heart: The Margaret Sanger Story debuted, starring Dana Delaney as Margaret Sanger. It focuses on the stirring saga of Sanger's censorship battle with Anthony Comstock of Comstock Law notoriety played with suitable menace by Rod Steiger.
Two years later, Life magazine welcomed Sanger into the Life Hall of Heroes. "Her once 'obscene' ideas," enthuses Life writer Seth Goddard, "had been embraced worldwide." A year later, Time magazine enshrined Sanger as one of the most influential people of "Our Century." To be sure, neither Time nor Life speaks of Sanger's commitment to forcibly sterilizing half of America, an idea that is still considered "obscene" in most quarters, and especially so in progressive ones.
In one of the more illuminating quirks in America's intellectual history, it was none other than William Jennings Bryan who inspired the young Margaret Sanger to change the world. After seeing him speak, Sanger decided that she too "in an obscure and unformed way, wanted to help grasp Utopia from the skies and plant it on earth." Having rejected the biblical God, however, Sanger had no idea what form that Utopia would take. "What to do and where to start," she admits, "I did not know."
Bryan did know. He traced the horrors of World War I and its unsettled aftermath back through the eugenics movement to social Darwinism and on to Darwin himself. Each step in the devolution from the Divine deeply offended his traditional Christian sensibilities. So in 1921, he sacrificed his comfortable retirement and eventually his reputation to reverse the process.
"Bryan decried the entire program as 'brutal,'" writes Edward Larsen of the eugenics movement, "and at Dayton offered it as a reason for not teaching evolution." The Scopes trial took place in 1925, just three years after Sanger's The Pivot of Civilization and the same year as the most brutal eugenics text of all time, Hitler's Mein Kampf. The very title of the book from which John Scopes taught, Hunter's Civic Biology, suggests its commitment to a community-oriented eugenics program.
Today, the same progressive establishment that has whitewashed Sanger's contribution to that "entire program" has, in Bryan's case, whitewashed his entire career save for his effort to stop that program. This leads to some wonderfully ironic moments, none more revealing or more confusing than those that come out of Hollywood.
In 1960, for instance, Stanley Kramer produced the movie version of Inherit The Wind. In the key scene, actor Spencer Tracy, playing the Clarence Darrow character, triumphantly scolds the William Jennings Bryan character for daring to resist Darwin and America's eugenics movement as embodied in Hunter's Civic Biology. In 1961, Stanley Kramer produced the movie Judgment at Nuremberg. In this movie, Spencer Tracy plays an American judge who, in a key scene, triumphantly scolds his German counterparts for not resisting Germany's eugenics movement.
In Judgment at Nuremberg's most moving scene, a dim-witted German man played by Montgomery Clift horrifies the judge and the American audience with his tale of forced sterilization. What, one wonders, must Margaret Sanger and friends have been thinking when they saw this scene? Whatever they thought, they didn't apologize. When you control the culture, you don't have to. You simply erase.
Less than three years earlier, the newly ordained minister had married the petite, quirkily pretty Mead in an Episcopal Church near her childhood home in suburban Philadelphia. According to Cressman, they were both virgins. After the honeymoon, the couple returned to New York City where they pursued their respective studies at Columbia University.
This was an exciting time to be young and a New Yorker. Cressman described the city as a "vortex of new ideas derived from discoveries in science, reaction to and reflection on the lessons of the war, and an awareness that a new phase of life for the Western world had come on stage with the Russian revolution."
Also in the air that fevered decade was the first great whiff of sexual awakening. Margaret Sanger, of course, played her own role in this atmospheric shift as did the inevitable Havelock Ellis, Sigmund Freud, and bright young authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald. In fact, it was Fitzgerald's Tales of the Jazz Age, published a year before Mead's marriage, that had given the era its name.
For direct inspiration, Mead looked to another literary prophet of the coming sexual revolution, the "free woman of her age," Edna St. Vincent Millay. Millay's 1920 poetry collection, A Few Figs from Thistles, had given Mead much to chew on. The "First Fig" struck close to home:
My candle burns at both ends;Inspired by Millay and the spirit of the times, the Samoa-bound Mead decided it was finally time for a little candle-burning of her own. In concluding her fateful letter to Cressman, she had written, "I'll not leave you unless I find someone I love more."
Unless what? One can understand Cressman's shock at reading this anticipatory fare thee well. Mead had progressed from "Till death do us part" to "Dear John" in a New York minute. And as Cressman would learn the hard way, Mead was still progressing.
For all the aptness of the First Fig, It was Millay's Second Fig that Mead took as her motto. This one proved eerily prophetic:
Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand:As the impressionable Mead saw it, the solid rock of traditional America produced some ugly houses indeed, certainly on the inside. Although she would expand the scope of her wrath as her celebrity grew, Mead focused her youthful indignation on the bourgeois American household this "tiny, ingrown, biological family" not unlike the Pennsylvania home in which she herself had come of age:
In our ideal picture of the freedom of the individual and the dignity of human relations it is not pleasant to realize that we have developed a form of family organization which cripples the emotional life, and warps and confuses the growth of many individuals' power to consciously live their own lives.
Her professor father and homemaker mother could not have been thrilled with this assessment of family life from Mead's classic Coming of Age in Samoa published when Mead was just twenty-six. According to Mead, these families instilled in their children a self-perpetuating set of "Puritan self-accusations" that crimped their libidos and left them burdened by "guilt" and "maladjustment."
Mead was likely not the only twenty-something running around New York with this much emotional baggage. In fact, her life reads like a flapper-era pilot for Sex in the City. It's just that she was the one woman uniquely positioned to transform this baggage into social science. The man who made this possible was Franz Boas, her mentor at Barnard and later Columbia and the godfather of modern anthropology. In the fall of 1922, Mead took a course from Boas and his teaching assistant, Ruth Benedict, and her life was never the same.
If not molded completely by Boas, Mead heeded his words as though they had come from a burning bush. When she accepted a grant to travel to Samoa and study "the problem of which phenomena of adolescence are culturally and which physiologically determined," she already knew the answer. The junket was largely an exercise in proving herself and Boas correct.
Had Mead merely visited Samoa and observed the culture and then finessed the data to fit her thesis, she would have been guilty of garden-variety bad science and little worse. Unknown to Boas, however, Mead had another mission. She needed to make sense of her own confused, omnivorous sexual appetite. At the time, the adventurous Mead had less interest in Luther Cressman than she did in Ruth Benedict with whom she would soon enter "an intimate Sapphic relationship." In full flight from Puritan America, Mead was prepared to employ her humble social science skills to imagine a "shining palace" of sexual fulfillment and stake it precariously in the shifting Samoan sand.
Predictably, the Samoa that Mead discovered and wrote about was everything for which she and Boas could have hoped. "All of her interest is expended on clandestine sex adventures," writes Mead of the adolescent Samoan girl. In fact, these girls often embarked on several such adventures each night. And why not? "The concept of celibacy is absolutely meaningless to them."
Given "the scarcity of taboos" homosexuality was common and masturbation was universal. Illegitimate children were welcome. Prostitution was harmless. And divorce was simple and informal. This casual familiarity with sex, argues Mead, has led to a culture in which "there are no neurotic pictures, no frigidity, no impotence, except for the temporary result of severe illness, and the capacity for intercourse only once in a night is counted as senility."
Better still, Samoan-style openness dissolved the proprietary tensions "monogamy, exclusiveness, jealousy, and undeviating fidelity" so problematic in a possessive American culture. "The Samoans laugh at stories of romantic love," writes Mead, "scoff at fidelity to a long absent wife or mistress, believe explicitly that one love will quickly cure another."
Best of all, Mead discovered that the difference between Samoans and Americans had nothing to do with biology and everything to do with culture, just as Boas predicted. "What accounts for the presence of storm and stress in American adolescents?" asks Mead. The answer was simple enough: "the social environment."
If a "general casualness" characterized Samoan society, Americans faced an "implacable" God and a "half dozen standards of morality," all of them repressive. As a result, sex was "a natural, pleasurable thing" for Samoans, but for Americans it was just the opposite. American girls found themselves crippled by neuroses, frigidity, and Electra complexes as they watched in horror "the huge toll of barren, unmarried women who move in unsatisfied procession across the American and English stage." This young rebel had fled that stage long ago and was determined to avoid an encore.
After only five months of fieldwork among the welcoming Samoans, Mead headed home in a westward direction. On shipboard, she happened to find someone she did "love more" than the hapless Cressman, a young New Zealander named Reo Fortune. Soon enough, she would dump Cressman and marry Fortune. In time, she and Fortune met a famed British anthropologist in New Guinea named Gregory Bateson, the son of the man who exposed the midwife toad fraud. As the New York Times discreetly notes, "There was a personal crisis among the three as a result of which there was a divorce." Mead would ultimately marry Bateson and divorce him too, but here we get ahead of ourselves.
Back in New York, working as an assistant curator at the American Museum of Natural History, Mead began to bang out a report on "The Adolescent Girl in Samoa." Boas looked at it quickly and liked what he saw. It seemed to confirm everything he had been preaching. Not overly technical and a wee bit salacious, the book appealed to William Morrow and Company, which published it in 1928 as Coming of Age in Samoa.
With Boas's imprimatur on the dust jacket, and that of his friends, like the equally famed anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski, the book easily swayed the social science community. Ruth Benedict, also on the way to renown, gushed over her sometime lover's book in the pages of the New Republic, rightly identifying Coming of Age as a blueprint for a neurosis-free sexual Utopia. When British sex guru Havelock Ellis mailed in his cheery blurb, the publisher thought it important enough to encode it in a bright red band around the already alluring dust jacket.
Coming of Age seduced the broader cultural establishment as well. The New York Times described the book as "warmly human yet never sentimental, frank with the clean, clear frankness of the scientist, unbiased in its judgment, richly readable in its style." The Times reviewer gushed in summary, "It is a remarkable contribution to our knowledge of humanity." At the time of Mead's death fifty years later, Coming of Age in Samoa was still selling 100,000 copies a year and was widely considered, as the 1973 edition safely asserts, a "scientific classic."
What the New York Times did not realize in 1978 nor in 1928, what Mead's millions of fans did not know, what not even Franz Boas knew, is that they had all bought into the greatest scientific hoax since the Piltdown Man. One prime reason they did not know is because they did not want to know. For a variety of reasons, none of them having to do with good science, they obviously liked what Mead had to say.
Only after Freeman had been in Samoa some years and become fluent in the language did he cease denying the warp between the reality he saw and the illusion Mead had spun. "It had become apparent to me, after prolonged inquiry," Freeman writes, "that Mead's depiction of Samoa was gravely defective in numerous ways and that her account of the sexual mores of the Samoans was in outright error."
Upon returning to New Zealand, and later in London where he studied, Freeman shared his misgivings with his professors, but no one took him seriously. In London, he explored the Samoan archives, and they only confirmed his suspicions. Fieldwork took Freeman to Borneo and diverted him for a number of years, but in 1964 he had the occasion to meet Mead and share his concerns. Mead was clearly taken aback but was gracious about it. After all, she was Margaret Mead, and he was not.
In 1965, Freeman returned to Samoa for an extended stay, including a visit to the specific island where Mead had done her research. Only forty years after the fact, he found many individuals who were as able and willing to discuss life in the 1920s as today's baby boomers are life in the 1960s. From their nicely detailed accounts, he came to the conclusion that Mead's take on Samoan sexual practices was "comprehensively in error." At this stage, however, Freeman remained "totally mystified about how an error of such magnitude could possibly have been made."
In fact, as was transparent to anyone who had spent time in the Samoa of the 1920s, the islands were anything but a sexual paradise, at least in the bohemian New York sense of the word. As Freeman observed, every attempt was made to safeguard the virginity of all Samoan girls, even those from common families. There was much at stake. At marriage, the bride had to undergo a formal virginity test, and it was not multiple choice. The results mattered. There was nothing causal about it. The groom-to-be staked his pride and honor on the outcome.
Still, Freeman wondered how Mead could have gone so far astray. In 1969, after more research, he sent her a letter on a specific, indisputable point:
There is ample evidence that rape behavior occurred in the 1920s, just as it occurs today. For this, and a range of comparable reasons, I am not in agreement with your depiction of sexual behavior in Samoa as "a light and pleasant dance" and as one the "smoothest" adjustments "in the world." Indeed, I am greatly puzzled as to what evidence could have led you to this erroneous conclusion.Mead did not respond. In 1972, she authorized a new edition of the book, specifically rejecting any revision of any kind. Freeman took this as his invitation to correct the record as Mead obviously had no intention of doing the same. After taking care of some commitments, he took up the task seriously in 1978. At the time he attempted to communicate again with Mead, unaware that she was fatally ill. She died later that same year, happily before the 1983 publication by Harvard University Press of Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth.
In this and in his 1999 book, The Fateful Hoaxing of Margaret Mead, Freeman explores just how Mead had gotten it all so wrong. As he relates, Mead had dithered around Samoa aimlessly for months before starting her fieldwork. Hopelessly behind schedule, she frittered away much of this remaining time on an unrelated project. Finally, while traveling around the islands with two teenage girls, she had the opportunity to question them privately about their sex lives and those of their friends.
Mead kept prodding the girls. She did not want to hear about traditional taboos or Christian restraints. She wanted to hear about frolicking on the beach. The girls had no idea what Mead was up to. They didn't know she was an anthropologist or what one even was. But what they did know and enjoy was the "recreational lying" common among Samoan girls. Eager to please, they proceeded to spin the kind of yarns that Mead wanted to hear. Pinching each other all the way, they filled Mead's head with wild tales of nocturnal liaisons under the palm trees.
"She must have taken it seriously," one of the girls would say of Mead on videotape years later, "but I was only joking. As you know, Samoan girls are terrific liars when it comes to joking. But Margaret accepted our trumped up stories as though they were true." If challenged by Mead, the girls would not have hesitated to tell the truth, but Mead never questioned their stories. The girls, now mature women, swore on the Bible to the truth of what they told Freeman and his colleagues.
Generously, Freeman suggests that Mead had been the innocent victim of a hoax and may well have gone to her grave unsuspecting. But even if true, there is no denying her contributory negligence. In the data tables that lend Coming of Age in Samoa the illusion of science, Mead lists 14 of the 25 post-pubescent girls in her study as having had "no heterosexual experience." These numbers in themselves would seem to challenge the ubiquity of teen sex, but even these numbers are suspect.
When Freeman questioned Mead as to whether the other eleven had had full sexual intromission, Mead responded yes. He then questioned how it was that none of these girls had ever become pregnant despite the fact that eight of the eleven were at least three years into puberty, and none used any form of contraception. Mead's notes from the time serve up an impressively daft answer. In the nearly fictional Samoa Mead had concocted, promiscuity appeared to ensure against pregnancy.
An equally culpable party in this hoax was Boas who barely supervised Mead's hasty, ill-informed efforts and then approved her thesis largely because it reinforced his own biases. He obviously did not check her data. And although Freeman does not explore this issue, anyone familiar with academia knows how foolishly indulgent aging mentors can be towards certain nubile acolytes.
Like so many naïve souls who pursue science for the right reasons, Freeman had no idea of the buzzsaw that awaits truth tellers. He was walking blithely right into it, what one colleague rightly described as "the greatest controversy in the history of anthropology." He had not guessed just how many of his colleagues had built their own "shining palaces" in Mead's Samoan sand. For more than fifty years, the anthropology community had held Mead's work up as "one of its glories and a solid proof of Boasian culturalism." Now here was an upstart from New Zealand threatening to undo it all.
Following publication, Freeman's professional colleagues launched an unrelenting attack against him, often ad hominem, that climaxed at that year's meeting of the American Anthropological Association. The Association held one specific session, a crowded one, dedicated to Freeman's assessment of Margaret Mead. Freeman, in all too traditional academic fashion, was not invited.
What happened to Freeman at that session has happened many times to those independent thinkers who dare question an existing scientific or cultural paradigm, even one as flimsy as Mead's, especially one that flimsy. There was hell to pay.
The session began formally enough, but when the general discussion began, "It degenerated into a delirium of vilification." One eyewitness described it as "a sort of grotesque feeding frenzy." Afterwards, at the Association's business meeting that evening, one of Freeman's peers introduced a formal notion trashing his work as "poorly written, unscientific, irresponsible, and misleading." The motion was promptly seconded, put to a vote, and passed by a show of hands. That none of those present knew Samoa or Mead's work nearly as well as Freeman an excellent writer and researcher, by the way mattered little. He had blasphemed "the Mother-Goddess of American Anthropology" and offended those in her thrall.
Since that time, as the recorded and sworn testimony of the two Samoan women has been made public, Freeman has received a large measure of vindication within the anthropological community, but a much smaller measure within the larger cultural establishment.
A random review of the first five online encyclopedias to appear in a Google search give a good indication of Mead's current stature in the larger culture. Three of the five The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition, Encyclopedia.com, and Allrefer.com make no mention at all of any controversy that might dim her luster. In their firmament, Mead's star still shines bright.
Britannica concise admits that "her theories" caused later anthropologists "to question both the accuracy of her observations and the soundness of her conclusions." But in the very next sentence, the reader learns that Mead became "a prominent voice" on issues like women's rights and nuclear proliferation, and that her great fame owed as much to this as "to the quality of her scientific work." End of discussion.
Only Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, goes into detail. The belligerent sophistry of its defense lifted from popular science writer Steven Pinker's book, The Blank Slate shows just how difficult it is to bring down even a wounded icon.
After an initial flurry of discussion, most anthropologists concluded that the absolute truth would probably never be known. Many, however, find Freeman's critique highly questionable. First, these critics have speculated that he waited until Mead died before publishing his critique so that she would not be able to respond. Second, they pointed out that Mead's original informants were now old women, grandmothers, and had converted to Christianity. They further pointed out that Samoan culture had changed considerably in the decades following Mead's original research, that after intense missionary activity many Samoans had come to adopt the same puritanical sexual standards as the Americans who were once so shocked by Mead's book. . . . Many anthropologists also accuse Freeman of having the same ethnocentric sexual puritanism as the people Boas and Mead once shocked.The fact that Samoa had been Christianized for a century by the time Mead arrived, or that Freeman first visited Samoa within fifteen years of Mead's visit and stayed many years longer, or that these Christian women swore an oath to the truthfulness of their account matters not all to Pinker and the cultural establishment he represents. What matters is that Mead's take on traditional American sexual customs be allowed to stand as gospel. Only a chauvinist and a prig like Freeman would dare subvert it.
Alfred Charles Kinsey was born in Hoboken in 1894. He moved to the amiably suburban South Orange ten years later, a little more than thirty years before Reisman was born. Superficially, at least, Kinsey enjoyed a highly successful childhood. He was an accomplished amateur pianist, an Eagle Scout, a Sunday school teacher, a seemingly devout Methodist, and the valedictorian of his high school class the same school Paul Ehrlich would later attend. Tall, blond, and good-looking, Kinsey might have been neck-deep in self-worth were it not for an overbearing father determined to deny him his due.
The authoritative source on Kinsey's life, early and late, is an epic, dispassionate biography by respected historian James H. Jones. Published in 1997, after more than twenty years of research, Alfred C. Kinsey: A Public/Private Life threw the doors open on Kinsey's highly unusual life and career and exposed it to some welcome light. Unless specified otherwise, the account that follows comes from Jones's comprehensive book.
Even as a lad, Kinsey was not quite what he seemed to be. A perfectionist, he could be hard on himself, both figuratively and literally. Despite his efforts at self-discipline, Kinsey could not control his urge to masturbate. Perhaps as a way to punish himself, he masturbated with objects ouch! inserted in his penis, graduating from straws to the handle of a hairbrush. This practice, notes Jones, must have caused the boy "exquisite pain." Reisman believes that Kinsey was sexually abused as a boy, but hers is more a deduction from behavior than from any recorded evidence.
In 1912, to please his engineer father, Kinsey enrolled in the Stevens Institute in Hoboken. After two years of training as an engineer, Kinsey mustered the considerable nerve to defy his father, quit Stevens, and enroll in Bowdoin College in Maine as a biology major, the first love of this budding naturalist. Indeed, his high school yearbook had projected him, in a worthy bit of prophecy, to become "a second Darwin."
For all his biological training, Kinsey had no hands-on experience in the real world art of reproductive behavior. Having come of age in a strict Methodist household, Kinsey dated no one in high school or in college. In fact, he married the first person he ever dated, a woman he met at a biology department picnic while a graduate student at Harvard. Although congenial in most ways, Alfred and Clara Kinsey both came to the marriage inexperienced and, on Kinsey's part, uncertain. They would not consummate the marriage for several awkward months.
The recent dramatizations of Kinsey's life portray his and Clara's ignorance as typical of the period. They make this case to show the later Kinsey as a necessary and useful sexual liberator. A little context, however, proves useful here. During the same time period, the Kinseys were fumbling, their fellow Ivy-leaguer and contemporary, F. Scott Fitzgerald, was writing The Beautiful and the Damned and tending to his just married and pregnant wife, Zelda. The 1920s roared without any help at all from Mr. Kinsey.
Kinsey imagined his own godless heaven on earth, one where people would be "freed from religiously prescribed notions of right and wrong." Here, writes Jones, "People would be at liberty to act upon their sexual needs, without fear or guilt, provided, of course, their behavior did not harm others." As shall be seen, Kinsey's idea of "harm" and Judith Reisman's idea of the same would diverge dramatically.
In 1920, Alfred and Clara Kinsey "migrated" to Bloomington, Indiana. In this charming university town, he and Clara would live for the rest of his life and raise their four children, one of whom died at an early age. At IU, he taught evolutionary biology with a specialty in entomology, the study of insects. To supplement his humble professor's salary, he turned to the writing of high school textbooks, publishing his first one, An Introduction to Biology, in 1926, the year after the Scopes trial.
In the text, Kinsey took an unapologetically pro-evolution stance. Although indifferent to the concerns of mid-America, he was not oblivious to them. To keep parents at bay, he pioneered the kind of bait-and-switch pseudo-science that dominates high school texts to this day. The formula was simple: merely define evolution as "the scientific word for change" and ridicule those who challenged evolution as denying the small changes obvious to anyone who had bred anything in a still largely rural America. In the accompanying teacher's manual, he counseled teachers on how to handle those parents who saw through or around the deception.
A champion of biological purity, Kinsey sang from the same dark hymnal as Margaret Sanger. Throwing a little zoology in the mix, he endorsed the immigration restriction laws passed in the early 1920s in a vain hope to preserve northern Europeans as a "true species." In time, he would come to share Sanger's fondness for negative eugenics as well, approving as he did the sterilization or isolation of "hereditary defectives." In fact, so indifferent was Kinsey to the less fit of his fellow citizens that he closed his ears to the siren song of socialism. Given his contributions to the sexual revolution, however, Kinsey's fellow progressives would forgive him this deviation.
More so than Sanger or certainly Mead, Kinsey spoke the language of biology. In his breakthrough book, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, Kinsey is forever referring to the "human animal" man as "primate," and "mammalian" behavior. Said Mead, in an aptly tart rebuke, "The book suggests no way of choosing between a woman and a sheep." Although Kinsey would quibble with Darwinian mechanics, his career represents a sterling example of applied Darwinian science.
At Indiana, Kinsey switched his field of application from gall wasps, about which almost no one cared, to human sexual behavior, about which almost everyone did. The switch was gradual and understandable. To address his own many sexual concerns, he had been quietly studying the field since the early 1920s. In 1935, he gave his first public talk, an angry one, on the subject of sex. Although the audience was small, the implications for the future were large. He laid the blame for the sexual dysfunction then presumably rampant in America "at the door of the Christian Church." As Kinsey saw it, Christianity channeled the essential animal nature of man into "cultural perversions" like celibacy and asceticism, perversions that ate away at the American family. He would argue later that sexual maladjustment was the single greatest cause of divorce.
As Jones notes, "Kinsey's 1935 lecture to the faculty discussion group showed how badly he wanted to use science, the greatest weapon he commanded, to attack the conventional morality that had caused him so much pain." Although Margaret Mead would mock Kinsey's biological determinism, she and he were scripting the same sexual morality play with identical victims and villains. All that differed was the science that each concocted to affect the outcome.
Two years later, his second book on gall wasps, The Origin of Higher Categories in Cynips, failed to excite much attention. Given the title alone, never mind the subject matter, Kinsey should not have been surprised, but he was disappointed, and he started pouring more of his energy into the study of sexology.
In 1938, Kinsey organized a course on marriage at IU and went professional with his sexual interests for the first time. From the beginning, he had planned to use the course as an opening to sex research. His students were to serve as test subjects, human gall wasps to be classified and categorized. It was here that he began to develop the exhaustive and incredibly personal questionnaires around which he would build his science.
As with the textbooks he authored, Kinsey could not conspicuously advance his own agenda. "He had to appear disinterested," writes Jones, "his pronouncements value free." Kinsey, however, knew how to mold young minds. He would marshal his evidence so precisely and present it so matter-of-factly that students were drawn to one inevitable conclusion: his own.
Had Kinsey progressed no further in his career or in his techniques, he would not deserve attention in this book. The phrase "academic bias," after all, has become something of a redundancy. Many professors, perhaps most, see no reason to hide their prejudices, let alone restrain them. But Kinsey did go further, much further, not just in his celebrity, but in his deceit, a deceit that would soon cross all ethical barriers and assault all accepted standards of common decency.
At this point, a digression to the first person might be in order. In researching this book, I became aware that two major biographies of Kinsey had been published in a two-year span, one sympathetic, one allegedly not. I ordered them both, forgetting which was which. Jones's book arrived first. Upon reading it, I presumed it to be the sympathetic account. A respected academic, Jones does not even mention Judith Reisman, nor does he identify with the "conservatives" who "vilified" Kinsey. Instead, he implicitly endorses much of what Kinsey has accomplished. "Kinsey pleaded for an end to hypocrisy," writes Jones approvingly, "and for a new ethic of tolerance."
For many in the cultural establishment, however, Jones's endorsement was too tepid and his tone too judgmental. By 1997, in fact, the left had so committed itself to Kinsey's "anarchic" brand of sexual liberation that even its most progressive journals were prepared to defend this Hoosier Republican and to attack Jones for not doing the same.
"Beware the facts," writes Martin Duberman in his review of Jones's book in the Nation, "they can lead you away from the truth." In progressive circles, especially in the age of AIDS, facts had become a distraction. Sure, Jones may have reported them accurately, but that doesn't cut it for Duberman.
"Where another biographer might have emphasized Kinsey's remarkable capacity for open-minded exploration," complains Duberman, "Jones persists in negatively labeling unconventional sexual behavior as 'skating near the edge,' as 'compulsive' and 'addictive' risk-taking." Although Jones praises Kinsey as a master researcher and a "debunker of conventional morality," this praise doesn't appease Duberman any more than does Jones's accuracy. From Duberman's perspective, praise is a mere feint, a way for Jones to camouflage his own cryptic moralizing and possibly low blow here to sublimate his own "perversions."
By any court's "reasonable man" standards, James H. Jones's balanced account of Kinsey remains the definitive one. According to that account, the psychic feedback Kinsey drew from his marriage course inspired him to pursue his sex research virtually full time. He was particularly fond of face-to-face interviews. In June 1939, after teaching his last class of the semester, Kinsey left Bloomington on a novel kind of field trip. This one took him to the gay underworld of Chicago, and it was a trip he would repeat frequently over time. "He liked what he saw," writes Jones.
The gay men that Kinsey interviewed and counseled took to him as a father figure and sought his advice. In one letter from the period, he advised a young man to butch up his personal style as effeminacy irritated Kinsey. He reassured the man, however, that his homosexuality did not make him a deviant. "It is my conviction that the homosexual is biologically as normal as the heterosexual," he wrote. "There is absolutely no evidence of inheritance being involved."
Kinsey argued instead that sexual identity depended to a large degree on early sexual interaction. A pleasurable experience of one sort or another led the individual to seek another of the same kind. "Whether one builds a heterosexual pattern or homosexual pattern depends, therefore, very largely upon the satisfactory or unsatisfactory nature of his first experiences," he concluded. Kinsey may well have been speaking from his own early experience. As he would later admit, he was doing more than advising in Chicago. He was indulging.
Meanwhile Kinsey was adding these new Chicago sexual histories to the ones he had taken in Bloomington and mixing them all in one indiscriminate bouillabaisse "clear evidence," notes Jones, "of how the targeting of homosexuals would skew his sample in the years ahead."
At about this time, Kinsey was courting an insecure and financially strapped Indiana University student. To keep Clyde Martin close, Kinsey hired him to work in his garden and later on his research team. Not inclined to homosexuality, Martin eventually relented to Kinsey's come-on, but as compensation, he asked if he could also sample the fruits of Kinsey's forty-two-year-old wife Clara, a proposition both the Kinseys assented to eagerly.
From the beginning, Kinsey would insist that all of his researchers pass what Reisman aptly calls Kinsey's "sexual deviance and obedience test," a test that spouses had to pass as well. With only one known exception, new staff members and their spouses were obliged to participate in indiscriminate sex among the research family, occasionally in group, occasionally on film. At least one wife would complain of the "sickening pressure" to join in. "I felt," she said, "like my husband's career depended on it."
To the outside world, though, Kinsey seemed all science. Indiana University's discreetly homosexual president, Herman Wells, strongly supported his work. The National Research Council sponsored his research, and the Rockefeller Foundation funded it. In 1942, Kinsey set up his Institute for Sex Research on the IU campus, and he and his aides began their statistical study of sexual conduct in earnest.
By 1947, Kinsey was ready to publish the massive data he had accumulated. No fool to political realities, President Wells asked him not to release the planned book during the sixty-one days that the Indiana legislature was in session. A state legislature that has still not yet accepted daylight savings time was unlikely to smile on Kinsey's state-sponsored sexual awakening.
Kinsey had no trouble finding a publisher. As scientific as the material appeared, it was steamy enough to be a bestseller, and everyone sensed it. If there was a hitch, it was that Kinsey's editor at W. B. Saunders Company, Lloyd Potter, insisted that the statistical method and data be "bulletproof." Potter worried that the samples were not sufficiently random or well distributed to project to the nation as a whole. Kinsey knew they weren't but indulged Potter and the Rockefeller Foundation by adding disclaimers that, as they all knew, the reading public would never notice.
Harper's certainly didn't. In a pre-release story, the magazine assured its readers that the 12,000 American men interviewed by Kinsey represented "a scientific cross section of the American population." Harper's also caught the drift of Kinsey's mission, astutely noting, "Age old ideas about sex embedded in our legal and moral codes are revealed as myths and delusions under the searchlight of this important investigation."
Kinsey was nothing if not a master of public relations. Sexual Behavior in the Human Male hit the market with more gusto than any book since Gone with the Wind. On January 4, 1948, the day before its release, the New York Times gave the book its imprimatur with a lengthy and laudatory review. Other publications quickly fell in line with the magisterial Times. Journalists rushed to applaud Kinsey and anoint him the successor to Charles Darwin, just as his high school yearbook had predicted. In the first two months of 1948 alone, the publisher sold 200,000 copies of the 800-page hardback.
The public picked up on the cultural buzz. Although nearly as skewed as Kinsey's data, a Gallup poll some months after the book's release showed that 78 percent of those who knew of the book approved of it. Among those approving was an Illinois University student who consumed Kinsey the way Haeckel had consumed Darwin. "I wrote an editorial about it," remembers Hugh Hefner, "and commented that I thought it was the most important booklet of the year."
Hefner and others saw right through the countless tables and stacks of data to the heart of Kinsey's thesis. Like Mead, Kinsey argued that different societies had different sexual practices, and some followed human nature much more closely than others. America's sexual codes, alas, were among the least natural. Scientists did not create them based on real biological data. Instead, priests and shamans had contrived them long ago out of little more than "ignorance and superstition." Bottom line: these codes had to go. "Society tries to restrict all sexual activities to monogamous relations," Kinsey notes disapprovingly. "And moral codes put a taint on many sorts of sexual gratification."
Hefner got the message. As a graduate student at Northwestern, he did an extensive report applying Kinsey's findings to U.S. laws. "I said that the laws were inappropriate and should be changed," says Hefner. "I had these dreams." In 1953, Hefner converted those dreams into big dollars when he launched Playboy magazine. "The sexual revolution began with the Kinsey Report," he observes. "I've said many times that Kinsey was the researcher and I was the pamphleteer."
The same year that Hefner launched Playboy, Kinsey published the companion piece to the first volume, The Sexual History of the Human Female. For a variety of reasons, this book generated less heat than the original. By this time, too, the ever more compulsive Kinsey was burning his own candle at both ends, more extreme sex on the one hand and more excessive work on the other. "His conclusions were both attacked and defended," wrote the New York Times upon his death in 1956. "The attackers proved more vigorous."
Still, Kinsey had liberated America's sexual genie from its bottle, and there was no putting it back. Said the Times in all its authority, "His conclusions gave statistical evidence for what many clinicians and indeed many laymen had guessed might be the sexual conduct of the American people today." And just what was that conduct? According to Kinsey, more than 90 percent of American males had masturbated. Some 70 percent had patronized prostitutes. A shocking 37 percent had indulged in homosexual sex to the point of orgasm. Nearly half of all married men had had extramarital intercourse. At least one out of every six farm boys had had sex with an animal. And the female numbers were only slightly less unnerving. Kinsey's statistics, observes Jones, "showed that sexual morality in the United States was in a shambles."
Judith Reisman, born Gelernter, turned eighteen the year Kinsey published his female volume and Hefner launched Playboy. She married soon afterward. Her daughter was born the year Kinsey died. For the next decade, Reisman lived a charmed life raising her family and advancing her own music career as a producer and performer of children's songs, a talent that attracted the attention of the producers of Captain Kangaroo, a perennially popular children's show.
This idyll came to a halt in 1966 when a local teenager raped her then ten-year-old daughter. In seeking answers, Reisman kept hearing that her daughter may have somehow invited the attack. Children, she was told, are known to be sexual from birth. "I did not know it then," says Reisman, "but as a young mother, I had entered the world according to Kinsey."
When her Captain Kangaroo slots began to wither, Reisman returned to graduate school and proceeded to pursue a Ph.D. in communications from Case Western University in Cleveland. At one point in her studies, a fellow student presented a project on pornography. Upon reviewing it, Reisman began to question its effects on children, particularly her own daughters. She soon learned, however, that her colleagues did not necessarily share her concerns. At an academic conference in Wales, she witnessed a level of tolerance towards pornography and other forms of sexual expression that surprised her. This tolerance extended even to pedophilia.
Curious, Reisman traced the academy's acceptance of this seeming deviance to Kinsey. Now teaching at Haifa University in Israel, Reisman proceeded to review his book on male sexuality in earnest. What she read stunned her. Kinsey appeared to have used infants in his sexual experiments. She reviewed the book more carefully still, "straining to see if there was something I missed, something I may have misunderstood."
Tables 30 through 34 in Kinsey's book documented a series of sexual experiments on children. In table 30, Kinsey charted the age of first erotic arousal. In table 31, he charted the earliest age of attempted orgasm in male children starting, incredibly, with two-month-olds. In that the data began with two-month olds, some adult had to have induced this behavior. In table 32, Kinsey charted the average time it took for these children to reach "climax." In table 33, he charted the time that elapsed between these presumed orgasms. In table 34, he charted the number of "orgasms" children from five months to fourteen years were able to achieve over time. It was clearly Kinsey who had popularized the idea that children were sexual from birth. For Reisman, remembering her daughter's rape, this hit home.
Alarmed, Reisman searched the reams of literature on Kinsey to find the scholarly response to these studies and came to an even more astonishing revelation: "Nowhere was there any criticism of these tables and graphs." Nearly thirty-five years had passed since the book's publication. Literally thousands of international scientists and other cultural observers had reviewed it. And no one not one person of note had chosen to comment publicly on Kinsey's arguably illegal, and inarguably unscientific and unethical, sexual exploitation of hundreds of male children.
Reisman wrote to Kinsey's coauthor, Dr. Paul Gebhard, who had succeeded Kinsey as head of the Institute. Gebhard responded that the data on the children in Kinsey's tables were obtained from parents, schoolteachers, and homosexuals who liked young boys. According to the non-plussed Gebhard, some of the homosexual men had used "manual and oral techniques" to help them stimulate the orgasm that they would then catalog.
Upon returning to America, Reisman accepted an appointment as a full research professor at the American University in Washington. She had found a friendly ear in the Reagan administration, which funded her research into the uses of child pornography. The Kinsey Institute did not take Reisman's research casually. It secretly threatened American University with a lawsuit if Reisman were allowed to carry out her study and conspired with its allies to keep her message out of the major media.
Although Reisman has worked tirelessly to bring her revelations to the American public, the cultural establishment has done a predictably good job of marginalizing her. In 1990, she released a book coauthored with Edward Eichel called Kinsey, Sex, and Fraud that challenged both Kinsey's use of child sex abuse as legitimate data on child sexual development and the alleged skewing of Kinsey's numbers. The Kinsey Institute hit back so hard that Reisman sued it for defamation of character and slander.
Undaunted, Kinsey supporters in the media continued to pile on. They typically dismissed Reisman as "a token Jewish friend of the American radical religious right," one whose "shrill and shattered logic" was not to be taken seriously, and they hung her Captain Kangaroo résumé around her neck like an albatross. If by1997 her message had penetrated deeply into the Christian and conservative subculture, it had hit a veritable major media firewall. The cultural establishment did not want to know about Kinsey's fraud and wasn't about to listen. Besides, to a large degree, Reisman could only raise questions. She did not have the resources to answer them.
Jones did, and the answers to Reisman's questions were not pretty. He had gained access to some of the tightly controlled information on the one "researcher" who had proved most useful to Kinsey's studies. The researcher, in fact, was a serial child rapist. Everyone following Kinsey knew at least vaguely of his existence. Kinsey insider Wardell Pomeroy had identified him as "Mr. X" in an early biography of Kinsey and portrayed him discreetly and sympathetically. For the 1998 British documentary, "Secret History: Kinsey's Paedophiles," award-winning director Tim Tate tracked down this helpful sexual psychopath and confirmed his name as Rex King. A government surveyor from New Mexico, King had kept exquisitely chronicled and often illustrated notes on the 600 preadolescent males and 200 preadolescent females that he had sexually violated.
When Kinsey heard of the man's exploits from another sex researcher, he courted King with ardor. "I congratulate you on the research spirit which has led you to collect data over these many years," he wrote to the man, hoping he would cooperate. The courtship paid off. King agreed to meet. Kinsey and Pomeroy promptly drove out to evaluate King's claims. To prove his capabilities a scene charmingly recreated in the recent Kinsey movie King showed the astonished pair of researchers that he could ejaculate from a non-standing start in less than ten seconds.
Impressed, Kinsey specified the kinds of data he was looking for, especially the timed data that showed up in tables 32-34, and King happily obliged. "This is one of the most valuable things we have ever gotten," wrote a grateful Kinsey after receiving some prized information. "I want to thank you for the time you put into it and for your willingness to cooperate. Clara Kinsey neatly typed up this new evidence of King's continued sexual assaults and blithely bound it in notebooks.
In the Human Male book, Kinsey describes in detail the nature of youthful "orgasm" that King has so dutifully recorded:
[The orgasm] involves still more violent convulsions of the whole body; heavy breathing, groaning, sobbing, or more violent cries, sometimes with an abundance of tears (especially among younger children), the orgasm or ejaculation often extended . . . culminating in extreme trembling, collapse, loss of color, and sometimes fainting of subject.Kinsey may have thought these to be expressions of "definite pleasure," but to Reisman they were unequivocal evidence of child abuse. Aware of the implications of her charges, the Kinsey Institute and its principals were anything but straightforward on the question of how the information in tables 30-34 was acquired. They have argued alternately that trained observers with stopwatches recorded the preadolescent data, including parents and teachers, and on other occasions that it was a sole individual who was sharing past histories. In the Human Male, Kinsey does not shed much light on the question of agency. Kinsey's close colleague, C. A. Tripp, further muddied the waters in a 1991 televised interview by the supportive Phil Donahue:
[Reisman is] talking about data that came from pedophiles, that he [Kinsey] would listen only to pedophiles who were very careful, used stopwatches, knew how to record their thing, did careful surveys. . . . [T]hey were trained observers.According to Jones, the bulk of the "research" was likely executed by King. "Betraying a huge moral blind spot," writes Jones, "Kinsey took the records of King's criminal acts and transformed them into scientific data." Kinsey likely based at least three of the five relevant tables on the word of this one extremely sick character. This was an individual capable of sexually abusing children less than a year old, dressing up their frenzied responses as orgasms, timing them, and counting them for periods up to twenty-four hours.
In "Secret History: Kinsey's Paedophiles," Tate documents the assistance Kinsey received from literally scores of contributing pedophiles, including a former Gestapo officer, Dr. Fritz von Balluseck. Balluseck's correspondence with Kinsey was uncovered when he was arrested in Germany for the sex-related murder of a little girl in 1956 and convicted of the abuse of hundreds of small children. Reisman argues that the evidence is absolute that Kinsey trained King and possibly others in his preferred research methodology and sent them back out to enlist new young "partners."
Kinsey calmly notes that in some cases, "Observations were continued over periods of months or years, until the individuals were old enough to make it certain that true orgasm was involved." Here, remember, when Kinsey speaks of "individuals," he is referring to children who were sexually abused, even tortured, over a period of years. His encouragement and bloodless accounting of this extended abuse defies all ethical standards. "Science would have been better served," says Jones in something of an understatement, "had Kinsey not allowed his lust for data to obscure his judgment."
By the mid-1940s, Kinsey's plunge into the sexual abyss had eroded his judgment on many issues, pedophilia high among them. Kinsey's collaborator, Paul Gebhard, shared some of his own concerns with Jones in a 1984 interview:
Once in a while we'd run across an occasional incest thing or an occasional adult-child contact that seemed to work out favorably, and [Kinsey] would always tell us about this and let us know that pedophilia wasn't as black as it was painted, that it could be, under proper circumstances, beneficial or something like that which would be heresy nowadays. Well, it was heresy then!There was little or no follow-up on the fate of these children. Gebhard argued that it would be too expensive, but Reisman wasn't buying. "There is still no answer to the question, Where are the children of Table 34?"
Kinsey's corrupt science has had an extraordinary impact on the culture, and nowhere greater than in the advance of the homosexual movement. In the Human Male, Kinsey stresses the need to be careful when reviewing data on homosexuality. "The data should cover every segment of the total population," he argues convincingly. "There is no other aspect of human sexual behavior where it is more fundamental that the sample be secured without any selection of cases which would bias the result." He then fully ignored his own advice.
As I expected, the volunteer error was proven and the whole basis for Kinsey's statistics was proven to be shaky. But then he refused to publish it and refused even to mention it in his books, or to mention anything else that I had written. All my work was excluded from his bibliography.The problems with Kinsey's samples were many and consequential. "Despite the huge number of histories he had compiled," writes Jones, "his sample was far from random and therefore far from representative too many of his histories came from prisoners, too many from college students, and too many from subjects he knew in advance to be gay." The begrudging Gathorne-Hardy backs up Jones on this point. "Jones is, of course, correct here," he notes, adding that Kinsey also collected "far too many sex offender histories and far too many juvenile sex histories." Knowing the sensibilities of the cultural establishment, even Jones downplayed the quiet horrors concealed in these "too many juvenile sex histories."
In addition to these obvious variables, Kinsey relied much too heavily on men who were single, widowed, or divorced, who didn't go to church and who were college educated, as well as on "several hundred male prostitutes." "[T]he data are probably fair approximations," Kinsey cautions disingenuously, "but only approximations of the fact." Approximations they were, but as to "fair," they weren't even close.
The results, of course, were predictably astonishing. "A considerable portion of the population," writes Kinsey, "perhaps the major portion of the male population, has at least some homosexual experience between adolescence and old age." According to Kinsey, at least 37 percent of the male population had had at least one homosexual experience to the point of orgasm. Among older teens, nearly one male in three have homosexual relations. Half of the males who remain single until thirty-five have had overt homosexual experiences. And 10 percent of white males are "more or less exclusively homosexual" for at least three years between the ages of sixteen and fifty-five.
The one number that outlived Kinsey is the 10 percent. Although Kinsey was reluctant to deem anyone a "homosexual," homosexual activists have seized on this number and made it gospel through repetition. Harry Hay, founder of the Mattachine Society, was among those who understood the political power of that figure. With 10 percent of the male population behind him, Hay was not protecting a handful of sexual adventurers. He was leading a minority group, indeed a voting bloc. The fact that the number is roughly three to six times higher than that any other researcher has come up with has proved irrelevant. To quote Lenin once more, "A lie told often enough becomes the truth."
In the year 2004, Oscar-winning writer-director Bill Condon and star Liam Neeson teamed up to make Kinsey, a filmed biography of the famed sexologist. Not surprisingly, Condon used Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy's sympathetic biography as his source material. Thanks to the work of Judith Reisman and others, however, Condon could not make the film in a vacuum. Too much of the world knew how Kinsey had lived and what kind of science he had performed. In its preview, even the New York Times acknowledges his masochism and his use of pedophiles to perform research. Still, that did not deter the filmmakers from portraying Kinsey as a "Promethean figure, liberating Americans from ignorance, superstition, and hypocrisy."
"[Kinsey] was an early feminist, though some feminists later took issue with him," Condon told the New York Daily News. "He was an influence on the gay movement, and there's a direct line from his work to the sexual revolution of the '60s. I'm not sure if we'd have gotten to where we are now without him." Most mainstream reviewers took a comparable stand. "The world we live in would be unimaginable without Kinsey or someone very much like him," confirms Kenneth Turan of the L.A. Times in a fairly typical review.
Condon and Turan are right. Kinsey inspired critical forward movement in three of the major currents of contemporary progressivism feminism, sexual liberation, and gay rights. Without him, the world we live in now would, in fact, be "unimaginable." To protect this world, the cultural establishment feels compelled to circle the wagons around its icons, none more valuable or as increasingly vulnerable as Kinsey. And so in addition to the 2004 theatrical release, both the A&E Channel and The American Experience have recently produced supportive documentaries, an unusual surge of interest given that there are no anniversary dates to celebrate. Even more telling, all major American networks have shied away from the British documentary, Secret History: Kinsey's Paedophiles, despite its enthusiastic reception in Britain.
In 1998, when Secret History aired in Britain, John Bancroft, then the Kinsey Institute director, told supporters in San Francisco that he went so far as to "pray" that Americans would never get to see the film. So far, with a little help from his friends, he has gotten his way.
In the late 1980s, the sexual revolution and the gay rights movement converged. By this time, gay rights had greater momentum and considerably more moral force. Within the progressive community, nothing was about to halt its forward movement, not the fading imperatives of the sexual revolution and certainly not the truth.
Starting with the adoption of Kinsey's 10 percent solution, gay activists and their progressive allies built a culture on a foundation of falsehoods. Although it is not within the mission of this book to document them all, it might prove illuminating to document one, the great heterosexual AIDS scare of the late 1980s. Unlike most "facts" about homosexuality and AIDS, this one could be tested and has been.
What makes the scare more relevant is that it swept up the two people, above all, who should have known better, Kinsey's presumptive heirs, William Masters and Virginia Johnson. Together with their colleague Robert Kolodny, they wrote a classic of wrongheaded science called Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of Aids.
If the book did not launch the heterosexual AIDS scare, it surely breathed the wind of legitimacy into its sails. "Crisis was the high-water mark in AIDS cynicism not because it was the most outrageous book on the subject," writes critic Michael Fumento, "but because Masters, Johnson, and Kolodny had the best reputation of any of the alarmist authors." How they came to sacrifice that reputation deserves retelling.
In the way of background, William Masters started following Kinsey's work even before the publication of Human Male. A medical doctor, Masters chose to specialize in obstetrics and gynecology because it would better prepare him to study human sexuality. In 1947, he joined the faculty at Washington University in St. Louis and blazed a successful career as a researcher in the field of hormonal therapy for women. In 1954, with the university's blessing, he began his research into the physiology of sex. He saw his work as a logical continuation of what Kinsey started, a move from sociology or, more realistically, zoology to hard science. Where Kinsey focused on case studies and secondhand data, Masters would focus on the measurement of live human sex in a lab setting.
In 1966, Little, Brown and Co. published Masters and Johnson's first book, Human Sexual Response. Like Kinsey, the pair weighted their prose with technical jargon, but this patina of science could barely conceal the red-hot sexual revelations underneath. As with Kinsey's Human Male, the book shot quickly up the bestseller list. In no time, the phrase "Masters and Johnson" passed into common parlance and provided the punchline for a thousand jokes.
Masters and Johnson followed up four years later with Human Sexual Inadequacy. In this second book, in full progressive spirit, they traced sexual inadequacy within marriage to its primary source, "the influence of channel-visioned religious orthodoxy." As if to prove that he himself was not so channeled, Masters dumped his first wife almost immediately after the book's publication and married Johnson. It was the fourth marriage for Johnson, who, at forty-four, was ten years younger than Masters. Writing in 1976, intellectual historian Paul Robinson argued that these two books did "more to advance the cause of women's sexual rights than anything written in the last quarter century."
In 1975, the pair published The Pleasure Bond: A New Look at Sexuality and Commitment. In this book, their first written in everyday prose, the authors made the case for total commitment to one's partner as the foundation for an enduring marriage and a successful sexual partnership. Ignoring their own advice, they would divorce some years later and go their separate ways.
In the late 1970s, just before the AIDS crisis descended on America, Masters and Johnson wandered a bit naïvely into the already politicized realm of homosexual research. In the early part of that decade, the most sexually wide open before or since, gay insurgents had stormed the citadel of the American Psychiatric Association (APA) to advance their cause. They had picked an easy target. Embarrassed to find themselves on the unfashionable side of the cultural barricades, the APA worthies were prepared to surrender without a fight.
In 1979, Masters and Johnson released their first book on homosexuality, Homosexuality in Perspective. Following in the Kinsey tradition, they argued that in most cases homosexuality was not an illness or a genetic disorder, but rather, like heterosexuality, a form of "learned behavior." Projecting from Kinsey's data, they claimed that there were some twenty to twenty-one million homosexuals in the United States, and that they too deserved the same therapeutic attention as heterosexuals. In interviews, Masters smugly chastised his less enlightened fellow citizens for "homophobia," a word few Americans had ever heard before.
To most readers, the Masters and Johnson take on homosexuality seemed appropriately progressive. But not to all. High and dry in their Midwest lab, the pair missed a subtle shift in the prevailing currents. They continued to preach that what could be learned could also be unlearned. In the book, they report how they successfully reeducated two-thirds of the sixty-seven homosexual men and women who had come to them wanting to change. In 1979, the claimed success rate generated more public controversy than the attempt at conversion, but in hardcore progressive circles, the very attempt at conversion rankled.
Two years later, in 1981, Dr. Jeffrey Satinover was called into his New York City medical center to do a neurological assessment on a patient. Satinover had never seen anything like this. A complex of deforming symptoms had ravaged the once good-looking young man. The most obvious of these symptoms was the angry, cancerous purple of Kaposi's sarcoma, a condition so rare at the time as to be memorable. The man, imprisoned in a nightmare jungle of tubes and IV drippings, would not last the week. He was among the first in America to die of what was then known as GRID, "Gay-Related Immune Disorder." For Satinover, the memory would last a lifetime. It would change his career, indeed his worldview, in ways that he could not have anticipated.
In August of that same year, The Kinsey Institute released the results of a study that gave gay activists the ammunition they were looking for. After interviewing 979 homosexuals and 477 heterosexuals on a grant from the National Institute of Health, Institute researchers claimed that homosexuality was not a learned condition but was present from birth and likely biological in origin. That this new claim reversed the findings of the Institute's founder seemed not to trouble the researchers. They knew which way the wind was blowing.
This is exactly what gay activists wanted to hear. As leaders in the progressive vanguard, they were in a position to dictate biology as well as psychology. According to the new party line, homosexuality was now genetic and irreversible. If gays were to claim the same civil rights as, say, African Americans, it had to be both. Their condition could be no more ambiguous than the color of a black man's skin. The very idea, as one activist put it, that "queers could be changed to breeders," was now apostasy. A public figure could destroy his or her career for daring to suggest as much.
More conveniently still, the Kinsey Institute had chosen not to release the results of a 1970 study that would have undermined the activists' power. This new study revised downwards the number of active homosexuals to 3.3 percent of the male population and of exclusively homosexual to 1.4 percent. With the lower figures suppressed, Kinsey's original 10 percent figure was allowed to stand. Thanks to this politically inspired math and some dubious biology, the gay political bloc acquired a moral and numerical clout nearly that of African Americans. As Fumento notes, "The importance of the forty-year-old statistical assumption to the cause of the acceptance of homosexuality in our society simply cannot be overstated."
Feeling their power, gay activists turned their attention to GRID and scored an early and indicative success by getting the name changed to the open-ended AIDS, "Auto Immune Deficiency Syndrome." "They worked to insure that GRID would not be perceived," Satinover observes, "as in any way related directly to their sexual way of life." As Satinover became more and more aware of how "gay activism distorts the truth," and as he watched young people die for want of it, he himself became an activist. His activism, however, came at a price. It put this Harvard-Yale-MIT trained Jewish psychiatrist on the opposite side of the barricades from all but a few of his peers and the mass of the cultural establishment.
Michael Fumento willed himself on to the same side of those barricades. Coming of age in 1970s, the son of a Marxist English professor on the radicalized University of Illinois campaign, Fumento did not even know what a conservative was. When he asked his father, he was told, "A liberal wants progress. A conservative wants things to stay the same." Fumento just wanted the truth, and he did not see much of it on the Champaigne campus, especially in regards to the Vietnam War. Almost in the way of protest, he joined the U.S. Army after graduating from high school. His father was not pleased.
After getting his college degree in the service, Fumento started law school at the University of Illinois in the early 1980s. Although far removed from the AIDS front lines, he could see what Satinover was seeing in New York. AIDS had become unmoored from reality. After graduating in 1985, Fumento began to accumulate the data he saw everywhere around him. "It wasn't hidden data," Fumento remembers. "It was in fact much more readily available to the doom-saying politicians, activists, and reporters than it was to me."
By the middle of the 1980s, gay activists and their allies had all but succeeded in de-linking AIDS and homosexuality. This was no easy trick. They began by fingering other groups as the possible source of the initial outbreak, including Haitians, Africans, prostitutes, and intravenous drug users.
Gabriel Rotello was among those gay activists. The fear of dying and of losing his community to death had turned the New York-based Rotello from rock musician to rebel with a cause. Fear, however, also clouded his vision.
"I believed, as most of my activist colleagues believed, that AIDS was an accident. That we were its heroes as well as its innocent victims." If gay male behavior had played some role in the generation of the disease in America, Rotello did not want to know about it, and he certainly did not want straight America to know about it either. "In all these respects," he laments, "I not only followed the party line, I helped write it."
Gay activists may have succeeded in shifting the blame, but their strategy did not do much to generate sympathy or funding. The groups fingered were, if anything, even more out of the American mainstream than gays. To create the mass hysteria that was to follow, gay activists needed a broader strategy and the friends to execute it. They did not have to look far.
Always in search of new moral heights, of still more novel ways to elevate themselves above their more grounded fellow citizens, progressives quickly adopted homosexual rights as a pet cause. The more morally vain among them took to expressing their solidarity in buttons or bumper stickers with double-edged declarations like "straight but not narrow." Together with their gay allies, progressives made AIDS the first fashionable disease since "consumption" a century earlier.
Rotello calls the phenomenon the "degaying of AIDS." Unfortunately, gays themselves came to believe the propaganda that the activists, gay and straight, were spreading. "If AIDS was not a 'gay disease,'" notes Rotello, "why should gay men examine the ecological reasons their community was so devastated? Clearly it was just an accident of history, a fluke, a momentary incursion of an otherwise universal pandemic."
Heterosexuals came to believe the degaying propaganda as well. It was spreading much faster than the disease and infecting people who should have known better. In early 1987, the beloved and usually believable Oprah Winfrey began her show as follows:
Hello everybody. AIDS has both sexes running scared. Research studies now project that one in five listen to me, hard to believe one in five heterosexuals could be dead from AIDS at the end of the next three years. That's by 1990. One in five. It is no longer just a gay disease. Believe me.Oprah's audience had no reason to disbelieve. In 1987, the scare was everywhere. Virtually all media sources were repeating the same rough message. "Now No One Is Safe from Aids," proclaimed the cover of Life. "The disease of them is suddenly the disease of us," added US News & World Report. The popular magazine covers affirmed just who that us was white, middle class, heterosexual mid-Americans. Even the more sober and credible media fed the flames. "AIDS has infiltrated the heterosexual population," the Washington Post cautioned its readers in November 1987, "and a meteoric rise in reported cases of HIV infection is expected because of false assumptions that AIDS is a homosexual disease."
It was in this fevered environment that Masters and Johnson composed Crisis: Heterosexual Behavior in the Age of Aids. Under attack by gay activists for their now scorned belief in conversion therapy, awash in the mania that was sweeping America, the chastened therapists rushed their book to market with a message that could not have been starker. "AIDS is breaking out," declared the authors in all their turgid authority. "The AIDS virus is now running rampant in the heterosexual community."
Unfortunately for them, Masters and Johnson and their partner Kolodny had gotten to the market just a bit too late. By mid-1988, when the book was published, the cultural establishment had begun to sober up. The calamity was not unfolding quite as predicted. Through 1989, when Fumento was writing, middle class white heterosexual Americans still accounted for less than half of one per cent of AIDS cases, and the percentage wasn't changing. In New York City, the AIDS capital of the United States, only seven males out of eighteen thousand diagnosed cases had contacted AIDS through heterosexual intercourse, and those seven could have been lying. As Fumento observes, even at the height of the scare, a mid-American, middle class heterosexual non-drug user had a greater chance of drowning in a bathtub than of catching AIDS.
Masters and Johnson had made a terrible tactical blunder. Until this point, like Kinsey before them, they had been generating "scientific" data that could not really be proved or disproved. In their first two books, as historian Robinson observes, the writing style was so "vague or clumsy" that it protected the vagueness and clumsiness of the ideas being expressed.
In the book Crisis, however, the language was relatively clear and straightforward. Worse, Masters and Johnson had followed the Kinsey formula, relying on recall data from volunteers. But in this instance, the numbers mattered. If a farm boy lied about whether he had sex with a sheep or a girl, no one died as a result of his dishonesty. If an HIV victim lied about whether he had sex with a man or a woman, resources could be dramatically misappropriated, and people could and would die.
In this hothouse environment, the results from the Masters and Johnson sample had to square with the real world numbers now being diligently recorded around the nation. In fact, their numbers came nowhere close. Their sexually active heterosexual sample of four hundred American adults produced results of 7 percent HIV infection among women and 5 percent among men, figures that would have been laughably high were this not such a deadly business.
"Only a fool would publish something like that," said one senior scientist at the NIH. "There is no data to support it at all." Even AIDS alarmists like Alexander Langmuir were alarmed. Said he, "This is the most venal, damaging thing that has happened in AIDS in five years." Newsweek magazine, which had contracted to excerpt the book, caught hell from the other newsweeklies, the very ones that had been peddling the same snake oil a year earlier. Had Masters and Johnson slipped this witches brew into the public conscious at the height of the scare, they might have added to the mania. Instead, they served it up to a cultural establishment in early hangover mode.
Still, once unleashed, manias are not easily reined in. Too many people had an interest in keeping this one alive. Some traditional moralists helped push the propaganda because it had the potential to undo much of the sexual revolution. Birth control activists did the same because it created a huge new interest in and demand for condoms. For gays, the denial ran deeper still. The degaying of AIDS allowed them, as Rotello puts it, to avoid a "sober evaluation of the ways the sexual culture of the seventies produced the AIDS epidemic."
So deep was the denial that when Fumento's The Myth of Heterosexual AIDS was published in 1990, gay critics attacked the book as "part of an antigay conspiracy." Rotello continues, "The idea that Fumento was penetrating a homophobic hoax became so entrenched in gay and AIDS prevention circles that it has been difficult to acknowledge that his epidemiological predictions have come true." When Rotello's own brave and smart book, Sexual Ecology: Aids and the Destiny of Gay Men was published in 1997, he too would feel the sting of progressive backlash.
Confronted by so much disease, death, and dishonesty all of it avoidable and unnecessary Dr. Jeffrey Satinover turned philosophical. He asked himself how this could have happened and why. The answer at which he arrived is not likely to be found in any popular text on sex ed or public health.
"The entire debate about homosexuality," writes Satinover, "is inextricably rooted in the Judeo-Christian concept of sin." Satinover argues that the rejection of sin in this tradition is not a rejection of the unnatural but the rejection of a slavish, compulsive addiction to what is natural and pleasurable. In essence, the sinner violates the first commandment, "I am the Lord thy God and thou shall not have strange Gods before me." That "strange god" is man's nature, tooth and claw.
Rotello does not talk about God, but he does talk about slavery to one's nature. Be warned, the following paragraph about the homosexual revolution of the 1970s and beyond is not for the faint of heart.
Multipartner anal sex was encouraged, celebrated, considered a central component of liberation. Core group behavior in baths and sex clubs was deemed by many the quintessence of freedom. Versatility was declared a political imperative. Analingus was pronounced the champagne of gay sex, a palpable gesture of revolution. STDs were to be worn like badges of honor, antibiotics to be taken with pride.Taken together, these practices formed what Rotello calls "a sexual ecology of almost incalculably catastrophic dimensions." As Rotello regrets, "Degaying had the opposite effect that many activists hoped." The resulting panic actually caused federal and local governments to shift resources away from the people who were most at risk to people who were not at risk at all.
This, and more, is what Kinsey and his fellow adventurers wrought. These sexual revolutionaries like the Marxists, the radical naturalists, and even the multiculturalists have left a legacy of death and disease as unnecessary as it is undeniable. They have paved their way to this earthly hell on a semblance of good intentions and on a reality of deceit. Worse, they must keep on keeping on. By definition, as progressives, they cannot stop or even pause.
It will take an unlikely combination of new technologies, like the Internet, and old values, like faith and freedom, to slow the progressive advance. At the end of day, God willing, the false will be exposed, and the truth will go marching on.
Time will surely tell.
Jack Cashill. "Sexual Fantasies." From Hoodwinked: How Intellectual Hucksters Have Hijacked American Culture ( Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2005)
Jack Cashill is an Emmy-award winning independent writer and producer with a Ph.D. in American Studies from Purdue. His writing has appeared in Fortune, The Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and other national publications. Jack has authored several books which include Snake Handling in Mid-America, 2006: The Chautauqua Rising, and Ron Brown's Body. In addition, he co-authored First Strike: TWA Flight 800 and the Attack on America. See his web site here.
Copyright © 2005 Jack Cashill
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