December 2004 (To print, click the print icon on your browser
or choose print from the menu)


The Far-Right's Fight Against Kinsey

The new movie "Kinsey" has gained a lot of attention from members of the Christian conservative movement. Groups like Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America have been working together for over two years to protest the movie's release across the country.

The film company Fox Searchlight, ironically owned by the same company that owns right-leaning Fox News, released the film in September. The film stars Liam Neeson as the 1940s pioneering sexuality researcher Alfred Kinsey who interviewed thousands of people about their sexual histories and compiled the information he learned in two highly influential books on human sexuality. Tellingly, the film premiered not in the typical New York or Los Angeles theaters, but instead in Washington, DC. The audience was composed mostly of political reporters, bloggers, and think tank personnel who were asked to come in the hopes that they would defend the film against the expected onslaught of criticism from the Right.

Conservative groups have long criticized Kinsey and his work, citing him as the reason behind the sexual revolution and cause of other issues like AIDS and child abuse. One of the most vocal critics is Judith Reisman, an independent researcher and the president of the Institute for Media Education, who is sometimes referred to as the founder of the anti-Kinsey movement. Reisman has written several books criticizing Kinsey and his work including, Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences and Kinsey, Sex and Fraud: The Indoctrination of a People. She argues that he was a "massive criminal" and that he "found pedophiles all over the country, sought them out and encouraged them to engage in sex with children and report on it to him."1 Describing the movie, Reisman said "The film effectively treats Kinsey as a tragic hero, a scientist - a wacko scientist, perhaps, but a scientist. Kinsey was never a scientist. He was a change agent - the most significant agent of change in American cultural life in the 20th century. The consequences of this sexual adventurism include AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, child sexual abuse, incest and pornography."2

Reisman is an adamant supporter of abstinence-only-until-marriage programs. In addition, she has argued that the German homosexual movement was behind the Holocaust and that today "idealistic 'gay youth' groups are being formed and staffed in classrooms nationwide by recruiters too similar to those who formed the original 'Hitler youth.'"3 She recently spoke at a congressional hearing on sexual addiction and is currently pushing for someone in Congress to revive H.R. 2749, a bill first introduced in 1995 at her urging that would determine if The Kinsey Reports "are the result of any fraud or criminal wrongdoing."4

Organizations including Restoring Social Virtue and Purity (RSVP) have formed to serve as anti-Kinsey advocacy groups. On its website, RSVP states that it is a campaign based on Reisman's research and that its "mission is to alert parents to the fraudulent Kinsey model of human sexuality and to training [sic] them to detect the inaccurate Kinsey philosophy in their own children's school sex education curricula."5

Although the movie was just released in November, conservative groups in this country have been organizing and protesting against the movie for over two years. Some groups feared that public protests outside theaters would have a reverse effect and help the film at the box office, and so instead have chosen to undertake less public roles. Kristi Hamrick, a Focus on the Family spokeswoman, explained that, "For those who think of people of faith as poor, uneducated and easy to command, I'm sure it would be amusing to see people praying outside of theaters. But we want to have a serious intellectual conversation about who Kinsey was and what he did."6

Nonetheless, the Traditional Values Coalition called for a yearlong boycott of all Fox movies and the Abstinence Clearinghouse organized protests at theaters around the country that were showing the film. Leslee Unruh, the head of Abstinence Clearinghouse, explained the protests saying that "Kinsey should be looked upon in the history books as Hitler, as Saddam Hussein."7 At the Abstinence Clearinghouse conference this past summer, Judith Reisman lectured with two of the staff from RSVP about Kinsey.

Other groups have been using different tactics to voice their opposition to the film and their anger at Kinsey. Last year, Reisman, along with radio talk show host Laura Schlessinger, the Eagle Forum, and other groups, tried to place ads in Variety, a Hollywood trade publication, alleging that Kinsey was a "Nazi Pedophile Collaborator."8 However, their ads were declined for submission. Focus on the Family and Concerned Women for America sent out mailers to newspaper film critics criticizing Kinsey's character and his research. Robert Knight from Concerned Women for America said, "Kinsey's proper place is with Nazi doctor Josef Mengele" and Focus on the Family's film critic Tom Neven called the film "rank propaganda for the sexual revolution and the homosexual agenda."9

The abstinence-only group Why kNOw also jumped on the anti-Kinsey bandwagon and in a recent newsletter compared the publication of the Kinsey Report in 1948 to the attacks of September 11. They labeled Kinseyism "fifty years of cultural terrorism."10

Many people, however, support the film. Jennifer Bass, a spokeswoman for the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University, said that it is true that Kinsey interviewed prostitutes and prisoners but that he also interviewed a wide range of other people including "women's garden clubs and parent-teacher organizations, church groups, nurses' groups, the Salvation army staff and travelers on trains."11 James H. Jones, a Kinsey biographer, wrote that though the numbers were not a random sample (which is hard to accomplish in sexual research) "that doesn't mean the data are of limited value or useless."12 He also pointed out there is no evidence that Kinsey was a pedophile.13

Despite the organized opposition, the film has done moderately well at the box office with a gross of almost $4 million, and has gained critical acclaim. The movie has been nominated for several Golden Globe awards including "Best Picture, Drama" and "Best Actor, Drama," and there is talk of Oscar nominations.

More information on the movie Kinsey.

References

  1. Alan Cooperman, "Conservative Christians Protest Movie on Kinsey," Washington Post, 22 November 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.
  2. Alan Cooperman, "Conservative Christians Protest Movie on Kinsey," Washington Post, 22 November 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.
  3. Daniel Radosh, "The Culture Wars: Why Know?" The New Yorker, 6 December 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.
  4. Daniel Radosh, "The Culture Wars: Why Know?" The New Yorker, 6 December 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.
  5. RSVP America homepage, http://www.rsvpamerica.org/, accessed online on 13 December 2004.
  6. Alan Cooperman, "Conservative Christians Protest Movie on Kinsey," Washington Post, 22 November 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.
  7. Christina Larson, "The Joy of Sexology," Alternet, 8 December 2004, accessed online 10 December 2004.
  8. Dr. Judith Reisman website, accessed online on 13 December 2004.
  9. John Patterson, "No Sex Please, We're Republicans," The Guardian, 3 December 2004; Tom Neven, "Kinsey," Plugged In Website (Focus on the Family Movie Review).
  10. Daniel Radosh, "The Culture Wars: Why Know?" The New Yorker, 6 December 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.
  11. Alan Cooperman, "Conservative Christians Protest Movie on Kinsey," Washington Post, 22 November 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.
  12. James H. Jones, "Kinsey Unzipped," LA Times, 28 November 2004, accessed online on 13 December 2004.
  13. Alan Cooperman, "Conservative Christians Protest Movie on Kinsey," Washington Post, 22 November 2004, accessed online 13 December 2004.