WARREN FARRELL, "EMPOWERMENT FEMINISM," AND MORE PENTHOUSE BACKPEDALING
Member, Board of Directors, National Congress of Fathers and Children.
Member, Board of Directors, Children's Rights Council.
Fathers' Rights and Equality Exchange (F.R.E.E.) Advisory Board
Highly supportive of the American Fathers' Coalition (AFC often cites Farrell as an "expert")
MORE on Warren Farrell.
It seems that Warren Farrell can't flick that pesky Penthouse gremlin from his shoulder. This missive, purportedly written by Farrell, was recently posted to the WITCHHUNT mailing list by fathers' rights activist and "egg man" Dean Hughson. For those who don't know, WITCHHUNT is a list for people who believe that most allegations of domestic violence, incest, and other forms of abuse are malicious lies. That view certainly works well with Farrell's "research" about "positive incest."
It's evident he continues to blame a mythic feminist cabal (the "Lace Curtain") for his publishing and professional difficulties. He's still smarting from his disappointing book tour. Apparently, in his view, I have been blessed with great power and ability to make people "fearful" of his works. Wow. I didn't know I had that kind of power. Heh heh.
All text in black is Farrell's. Text in brown is mine.
Subj: [witchhunt] Warren Farrell reformatted
Date: 8/15/00 10:08:10 PM Eastern Daylight Time
From: firstname.lastname@example.org (Dean Hughson)
To: witchhunt@eGroups.com (witchhunt)
Michelle was nice enough to make this clean and better to read. Thanks. Dean
Subject: Re: A statement you allegedly made
Date: Wed, 24 May 2000 13:10:22 -0700
From: Warren Farrell
Organization: @Home Network
Thanks for going directly to the source.
Since I have been writing in support of what I call empowerment feminism, but in opposition to what I call victim feminism, I have been a target of the efforts of Liz Kates and Trish Wilson to personally attack almost all the father's rights advocates.
In my case, they have been successful in making some people fearful of looking at the research I have done in areas such as domestic violence (in Women Can't Hear What Men Don't Say, by Tarcher/Putnam, 1999).
It was in part your "research" into domestic violence that caused your original agent from Simon and Schuster to reject that book. It is very unusual for a published author to be rejected by a publisher with whom he or she had established a relationship. How many publishers turned you down before Tarcher/Putnam took the plunge?
By the way, those claims about domestic violence are not "your research." The myth that men and women are equally abusive is over twenty years old. It's bad enough that you make claims based on weak research, or to misrepresent existing research in order to support your point of view, but it is the height of arrogance to take credit for another person's work, even if that work leaves much to be desired.
Since the fear starts with the accusation of my being pro-incest, as it did at your roundtable, I appreciate the opportunity to separate the truth from the fiction.
Highlights first: I have never been pro-incest. In the Penthouse article, the word "genitally" should be "generally".
I suppose you bring up that quote because it's the only one you may excuse as a misunderstanding or a typo. You made many statements in support of incest in that interview. The phrase used throughout the interview was "positive incest." Exactly what is that, Warren? How do you explain this quote:
"When I get my most glowing positive cases, 6 out of 200," says Farrell, "the incest is part of the family's open, sensual style of life, wherein sex is an outgrowth of warmth and affection. It is more likely that the father has good sex with his wife, and his wife is likely to know and approve -- and in one or two cases to join in."
You can't squeal "typo" or "misunderstanding" to explain away that quote.
Here is another quote directly from Penthouse. Your statement is in bold.
"Warren Farrell admires Giaretto's rehabilitative mission among legitimate victims, for his own investigation of positive incest allows for considerable negativity, particularly in the father-daughter category. But he faults "Weekend" for its skewed perspective."It was like interviewing Cuban refugees about Cuba. "Weekend" recorded sexually abused children speaking about their sexual abuse, which is valuable, but the inference is that all incest is abuse. And that's not true."
Is incest not abusive if the perpetrator is enjoying the relationship -- the victim's welfare be damned? Is it "positive incest" if his wife knows he's fucking his own child, but it's okay because he says "she approves?"
I have let Liz Kates know this in writing. This does, though, imply that I did do a study about incest. That is correct. I conducted it in the '70s after Random House published The Liberated Man, a pro-feminist book based on my years on the Board of N.O.W. in New York City. I never published the findings on incest despite having a contract with Bantam books to do so in book form.
I see you continue to gloss over your position on the board of the small New York City chapter of N.O.W., preferring to infer that you were on the board of National N.O.W. I've also noticed that you continue to neglect to mention your membership on the Board of Directors or Board of Advisors of fathers' rights groups such as Fathers Rights and Equality Exchange, the National Congress for Fathers and Children, and the Children's Rights Council. You are also highly supportive of the American Fathers Coalition and the American Coalition for Fathers and Children. Both groups cite you as an "expert." But I guess mentioning any of those horrendous groups would detract from that "empowerment feminist" image you wish to portray.
As a result, the topic of incest is not the subject of any of my writing. All four of my books -- as well as my experiential workshops -- are attempts to get both sexes to understand the other. (The bad news is that this is not likely to be achieved in my lifetime. The good news is I guess I'll always be fully employed!) My forthcoming work is to be titled [deletia - no promotional fathers' rights puffery is allowed on my webpage]. It is very much on what is in the best interests of the child. Incest is not a topic in the book.
Now, some more detail...I refrained from publishing the incest findings because I feared that what I found would be distorted and misused. (It's a bit ironic that it still is, even though I did not publish it!) I allowed myself the one interview with Penthouse to get a sense of whether the message would be distorted in print, or after print, or both. When I saw that the answer was both, I gave up a multi-year research effort. Obviously this cost me considerably.
You may wish to know my motivation for undertaking the incest study.
It evolved from reading in Ms. and other sources in the early '70s that incest was like terminal cancer. This attitude seemed to me to hold out no hope for a cure.
Stop pretending that you are a feminist, Warren. You are not now nor have you ever been a feminist. The real feminists, such as myself, know pretense and co-option when we see it. The feminist movement figured out what you were all about very early on. That's why you whined in your last book about your "friend" Gloria Steinem not returning your phone calls. You whined louder about getting bumped as a guest on the talk show Donahue. The New York Times refused to publish your articles. This was no "Lace Curtain." The gig was up, and everyone had figured out where you were really coming from. That is why you became persona non grata. Your attempts to tie yourself to the feminist movement even to this day are clearly shallow attempts to lend yourself credibility that you never had.
I wondered whether therapists, by seeing the most difficult cases, were creating this conclusion in the same way we had about homosexuality being a disease by looking largely at a patient population that was unhappy. I felt that if a non-patient population had a larger variety of experiences, we might have information to better help people who were traumatized.
So I put ads in papers soliciting anonymous over-the-phone intensive interviews from people experiencing any form of incest, from cousin-cousin and brother-sister to father-daughter and mother-son, asking them to rank their experience as positive, negative or mixed.
I created lie detector tests that I built into the interviews. Some of the ads I placed solicited experiences perceived either as positive or negative; other ads solicited only positive, until I attained enough people who perceived their relationship as positive to have numbers large enough to make comparisons to the negative (since the negative ones were obviously more easily attainable).
The focus of the book was broadening the base of therapeutic options for interventions that could reverse trauma.
You tell incest victims that "...their lives have not generally been affected as much by the incest as by the overall atmosphere." You were also quoted saying "[g]irls are much more influenced by the dictates of society and are more willing to take on sexual guilt." That's how you excused "positive incest" in the Penthouse interview. These people are not victims of their perpetrators but of societal dictates and the "Save Our Children Movement." These excuses sound a great deal like pro-paedophilia statements made by Ralph Underwager for the Dutch paedophile magazine "Paidika."
The Kinsey Institute ranked it as, by far, the best and most responsible study ever done on the subject.
However, in the process of always being asked about the positive experiences, the deeper purpose of the study often got lost. I saw this happen in the Penthouse interview, and sometimes I contributed to the process by not being media savvy enough. I felt that if I did not publish the material, I would be able to limit the exposure of the information to in-depth workshops with only professionals. So that is what I did.
As I mentioned above, my most recent work has included an examination of all the domestic violence research and the outlining of approaches that can minimize violence by anyone. I have just returned from training therapists in Ireland, mostly directors of women's shelters, on these approaches.
[Book name deleted -- no misogynistic advertising on my website] examines research from around the world on the effects on children when brought up only by moms vs only by dads; it looks at what dads and moms tend to contribute that is unique--and why--and what needs to change legally and psychologically to make dads as much a part of the home in the 21st century as women became to the workplace in the 20th century. Obviously sending mothers out of the family without bringing dads into the family leaves children with a parenting vacuum.
Warren Farrell, Ph.D.
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