A new book that condones adult-child sex is part of a wider effort by some academics to rehabilitate the revolutionary Kinsey Reports on sexuality amid a climate of growing concern about abuse, according to a leading researcher.
Judith Levine’s “Harmful to Minors: The Perils of Protecting Children from Sex,” scheduled for release in May, “challenges widespread anxieties” about pedophilia, according to a promo.
“There’s nothing new here,” said Judith Reisman, who has studied the impact of America’s sexual revolution for more than three decades. “This has been on the back burner for quite some time. The Kinsey Institute is preparing to release a series of documents on child sexuality, a whole new look from not a negative but from a positive perspective.”
Last May, the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University held a Sexual Development Conference that brought together “sex experts” to discuss the “uncharted territory” of childhood sexuality. A volume of essays from the conference, published by Indiana University Press, is forthcoming, the institute says.
Reisman told WorldNetDaily she predicts the new volume will reference books like Levine’s as the “new, fresh academic debate” on childhood sexuality.
“They will be saying that the real reason that children are being sexually abused is the uptight restrictive nature of parents and teachers, and what we need is more sex education in the classroom and contraception for the children,” Reisman said.
A promo on the website of publisher University of Minnesota Press calls Levine’s book “a radical, refreshing, and long overdue reassessment of how we think and act about children’s and teens’ sexuality.”
It includes a recommendation from James Kincaid, author of “Erotic Innocence: The Culture of Child Molesting,” who calls it “a crusading book that is also kind, a very rare phenomenon, and it comes down always on the side of trusting not only our kids and their pleasures but our own.”
Levine noted in a recent interview with the Newhouse News Service that as a minor she had a sexual encounter with an adult that was “on the balance” a “perfectly good experience.”
In a Q&A on the University of Minnesota Press website, Levine was asked to explain her insinuation that protecting children can be harmful.
“Protecting children is one of our chief duties as adults, whether we are parents, professionals, or friends,” she said. “But we also have to ask: What are we protecting them from? My book says that sexuality is a fact of life, and a potentially wonderful part of growing up for children at all stages of their lives. It’s not sex itself that is harmful to children, but the conditions under which they might express themselves sexually that can leave them vulnerable to harms like HIV, unwanted pregnancy or sexual violence.”
Levine said in the interview that the biggest danger to children is the “conservative religious agenda that would deny minors all sexual information and sexual expression.”
“They’re the people behind abstinence-only education, the child-pornography laws that get people arrested for taking pictures of their babies in the bathtub, or laws that make abortion risky and traumatic for young women,” she said. “These so-called protections are more harmful to minors than sex itself.”
Later she states: “The fact is, most kids will say yes to sexuality at some point during their childhood or teen-age years. Our choice as adults is whether or not we will help make those experiences safe, consensual and happy.”
Levine has written about “sex, gender and families” for two decades, according to her publicist. She is founder of the feminist group No More Nice Girls and author of “My Enemy, My Love: Women, Men, and the Dilemmas of Gender.” Her articles include “The Dykes Next Door,” published in Ms. magazine last fall.
Kinsey’s interest in boys
Reisman contends that Alfred Kinsey was the father not only of the revolution that spawned the current permissive sexual climate, but also of the movement gaining ground among some scholars to legitimize sex between adults and children.
In her book “Kinsey: Crimes & Consequences,” Reisman presents evidence that Kinsey was a pedophile. She points out that “anywhere from 317 boy infants and children to 2,035 total children” were subjected to sex experiments for the Kinsey data in Chapter 5 of the Male and Female volumes of his reports.”
In 1948, Kinsey published “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male” and in 1953 “Sexual Behavior in the Human Female.”
Reisman wrote that “the truly amazing fact is that at the time the activities required to perform the ‘research’ on children to obtain data on their ‘sexuality’ would have involved actions that were clearly criminal in all 50 states of the USA and that these criminal activities were being committed under the protection and with knowledge of the Indiana University. ”
Reisman noted that in an essay, Albert Jonson and J. Mann reported that Kinsey “included observational reports on the speed of reaching orgasm in 1,888 boys, aged 5 months to adolescence who were timed with a stopwatch” and “147 preadolescent” girls. Jonson and Mann cite their “personal communication” with Wardell Pomeroy, Kinsey’s co-author, who validated the 1,888 boys in the Kinsey Reports, Reisman wrote.
Reisman’s work on Kinsey gained attention in the UK in 1998 when Yorkshire television aired a documentary by Tim Tate called “Kinsey’s Paedophiles.” Tate said, based on extensive research, that the data was used by Kinsey to suggest that children can enjoy their abuse. The program has never been aired in the U.S.
Howard Ruppel, chancellor and academic dean of the graduate school that arose from the Kinsey Institute, the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, told WorldNetDaily he has no comment regarding allegations that Kinsey was a pedophile.
“But in terms of suggesting all the people who are interested in this kind of research are flaming liberals who want to molest children, it’s just crazy,” he said. “We just want information, we want to develop a database to know the facts, not the fantasies of people.”
He acknowledged, however, his institute’s rejection of the principle that sex is intended for marriage.
“Well, who believes that these days?” he asked. “Not very many people. That may be what they say at church or in the laws, but that is not what the data tell us.”
Subsequent studies have built on the Kinsey Reports, family advocate groups point out. In her book, Levine praises a 1998 study by Bruce Rind of Temple University which provides evidence that “doesn’t line up with the ideology that it’s always harmful for kids to have sexual relationships with adults.”
“Accused molesters have already misused” this study “to justify their perversion,” charged Robert Knight, director of Concerned Women for America’s Culture and Family Institute.
“Now they will be citing (Levine’s) hideous book to excuse their crimes against children,” he said.
“If the regents of the University of Minnesota do not act quickly to fire those responsible, the people of Minnesota and their elected representatives should move quickly to replace them,” stated Knight.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty, R-Eagan, issued a statement Wednesday demanding that the state-funded university “immediately” stop publication of Levine’s book.
“The (school’s) role in publishing this kind of trash is very troubling,” Pawlenty said in a statement. “We deserve to know why the name of one of our most respected institutions is being associated with this endorsement of child molestation.”
A similar backlash is directed at the University of Missouri-Kansas City where a political science professor’s writings on pedophilia and child pornography recently gained national attention in association with the clergy abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.
Harris Mirkin’s voice mailbox has been filled with angry messages, including one calling him a pedophile and saying he should die, according to the Kansas City Star. The Star said the response followed the linking of last week’s Newhouse story by WorldNetDaily.
Mirkin’s writings on pedophilia and child pornography question whether sexual abuse ruins every child victim’s life. He calls for a more open and frank discussion of pedophilia and adult-child sex, rather than emotional reactions that call all such relationships “evil.”
Mirkin, who has taught at UMKC for 30 years, wrote in the Journal of Homosexuality in 1999 that all child molestations should not be lumped in the same category.
“According to the dominant formulas, the youths are always seduced,” he wrote. “They are never considered partners or initiators or willing participants even if they are hustlers.”
Reisman says the Kinsey Institute has trained many of the personnel who staff the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, which in turn trains many of the people responsible for sex education in public schools. The San Francisco institute touts itself as the only graduate school in the United States “approved to train sexologists.”
The school’s Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality of Feb. 1, 2000, republished a monograph, “Sexual Rights of Children,” by its late professor Dr. Loretta Haroian, which “has been a part of the education of many sexologists,” according to the editor’s notes. “It is time it was made available to the general public, and the many teachers of sexuality education to our young people,” the editor said.
Haroian acknowledged that “children, by definition, are not consenting adults in sexual matters” but insisted that this “position does not suggest that there is inherent harm in sexual expression in childhood.”
“In the Western culture, great controversy has been perpetuated over what adult (parent and professional) attitudes about children’s sexual expression should be. Many child-rights advocates believe that children are a disenfranchised minority in the age/class system and state that the privilege and responsibility of sexual behavior is one of the many human rights denied them. They suggest that the proper adult stance is one of permissiveness to encouragement (Farson, 1974; Yates, 1978). This argument is more than vaguely akin to the rhetoric of the pedophile groups who have a vested interest in the relaxation or abolishment of child protective (albeit restrictive) laws. Many child experts more conversant with the vulnerabilities of children in a complex pluralistic society opt for laws and social custom that, although somewhat limiting, provide protection from unscrupulous adults. Children, by definition, are not consenting adults in sexual matters and may need protection from the liability of sexual contracts in the same manner that they are not held accountable for business or labor contracts.
“This position does not suggest that there is inherent harm in sexual expression in childhood; in fact, we have considerable evidence to the contrary. Sexologically, it is based on the knowledge that the benefits of free sexual expression of children can only occur in a sexually supportive society: a society in which all people have sex for sexual reasons, one in which sexual knowledge, skill and pleasure are valued for both males and females. A society that encourages sexual competency rather than constraint and in which every man, woman and child can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to sex without prejudice or coercion. To encourage children to be sexual in a sexually repressive or permissive/ambivalent culture is to exploit their healthy sexual interest, as they will be left alone to deal with a double standard and the sex-negative, self-serving attitudes of peers and adults.”
Age of consent
The San Francisco institute’s Ruppel agrees with Levine’s belief in the soundness of the Dutch law that permits sex between an adult and a person between 12 and 16 if the younger person consents.
Young people can have positive sexual experiences at that age, Ruppel contended.
“There’s empirical data that suggest that,” he said. “And those of us in this culture have to understand that there are people in other cultures who have different belief systems than we do, and their laws reflect that.”
Could children lower than 12 have a positive sexual experience with an adult?
“Well, I don’t have any research that suggests that,” Ruppel said. “We have not done that kind of research in this school. Certainly we know that children, in terms of interaction with themselves and peers – you show me yours, I’ll show you mine – can.”
He said he would be “very concerned about” a child younger than 12 having a sexual relationship with an adult “because there may very well be a coercive element in that.”
But if there were not a coercive element?
“Well, that’s tough to judge,” he said. “Who’s to say it’s coercive or not coercive? It’s just like harassment laws we have now in most work places. Probably somebody with power over somebody else, the potential for coercion is there. I don’t want to get too idealistic.”
He maintains he definitely would not condone the kind of relationships at the heart of the Catholic Church scandal.
“[A priest] is more of an authority figure in the life of a Catholic child, having been one myself,” he said. “They would have the kind of authority that would make this kind of relationship troublesome.”