By Trish Wilson, © 2000
All rights reserved by author


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: (Dean Hughson)
To: (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.

      What, I'm not a "competitive feminist?" That's the other category you created for people and points of view you don't like. Since an "empowerment feminist" is defined as "anyone who agrees with Warren Farrell," it's safe to say that I don't fall for any of your nonsense.

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).

      Oh, geez, are you still blaming that mythic "Lace Curtain" for your publishing woes?? No one is "fearful" of looking at your "research," Warren. How did I make those who would have seen you at the National Press Club fearful of you? Are you blaming me for the fact that your gala book tour was a bust, and that the National Press Club appearance, which would have been the highlight of your tour, had crashed and bled out? I cannot take credit for that. Your writings speak for themselves, Warren. That's clear in my review of your latest book. Your "research" has been looked at and determined by anyone with a smidgen of credibility to be not much more than a barrel of steaming compost.

      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.

      Ah hah. That's what's bugging you. You had been confronted with that Penthouse interview during a roundtable discussion. It blew away any credibility you thought you had. That interview just won't crawl under a rock and die like you wish it would, will it?

Highlights first: I have never been pro-incest. In the Penthouse article, the word "genitally" should be "generally".

      Hadn't you claimed recently that the word was "gently," not "genitally?" Now it's "generally?" What will the next word be? Genially? Genuinely? Generously?

      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.

      According to the Penthouse article, twenty-two publishing houses had turned down that book. Bantam was the only firm that bid on it, and later chose to become the twenty-third publisher to turn it down. Smart move.

      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.

      "Experiential workshops" about incest? What did everyone do? Act out their incestuous proclivities in the privacy that you had provided for them? Do they talk about their "experiences" in a "professional" setting? Uh huh....

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.

      What kind of flim-flam story is this, anyway? You did not seek out a recognized sociological publication, or an anthropological publication, or any reputable medical, psychiatric, or psychological organization or journal. You didn't even query a reputable news magazine such as Newsweek. What did you do? You sought out ... Penthouse! You KNOW that the people who read Penthouse are not interested in thoughtful and well-research studies about incest. Anyone who opens a porn magazine to an article about incest is hoping for some titulation, and you damned well know it. Stop pretending that you didn't know exactly what you were doing when you had agreed to that interview.

You may wish to know my motivation for undertaking the incest study.

      Fame? Fortune? Guest spots on TV talk shows? Guest editorials in major newspapers?

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.
      That's not what you told Penthouse. You got the idea for the book after reading a New York Times article about incest in early 1976. According to the article, in 1976 New York City police received only one incest complaint. There were no arrests. Did it occur to you that the victims were too traumatized and frightened to call the authorities? Had you considered that the victims may have blamed themselves for their own incest? That's what reputable experts on incest and sexual abuse would have told you, but no, none of that had crossed your mind. You had thought that some of the incidents had not been reported because they "went smoothly."

      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.

      You have no training as a therapist or as a medical doctor. Your Ph.D is in political science, not medicine. You are not qualified to second-guess therapists. Your "research" is not medically based. It is political propaganda.

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.

      Of the three categories of incest you had created, you had defined "positive" incest as "beneficial."Beneficial for whom? Certainly not the victim. You had admitted in Penthouse that fathers tended to express positive feelings about incest they perpetrate, but daughters gave more negatives responses. You had commented that "[e]ither men see these relationships differently, or I am getting selective reporting from women." I'm not surprised that you give the benefit of the doubt to men who have molested their own daughters.

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).

      You stacked the deck until you got what you wanted -- an adequate number of perverts who drooled all over you about their "positive" incest experiences.

The focus of the book was broadening the base of therapeutic options for interventions that could reverse trauma.

      Really? Your forty-one page outline for that book, as reported in Penthouse's "The Last Taboo," included "two sizzling case histories -- one with a New York writer who had intercourse regularaly with his seventeen-year-old daughter, occasionally supplemented by threesomes with the daughter's girlfriend, and another man with a Notre Dame graduate who made love to his mother for ten years." Therapy isn't described as "sizzling."

      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.

      The Kinsey Institute had also compiled data by paedophiles who were at the time actively abusing children, some as young as infants. A glowing review by Kinsey is not necessarily a good thing in this case.

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.

      What kinds of "workshops" are these with what "professionals?" Do you tell these "professionals" what you had said in Penthouse -- that "[t]he average incest participant can't evaluate his or her experience for what it was. As soon as society gets into the picture, they have to tell themselves it was bad. It's a self-fulfilling prophesy." How convenient. Counsel abusing adults that they should feel proud of the "positive" and "beneficial" experience, despite societal condemnation. Counsel traumatized children and adult victims of incest that their problems were not caused by the parent or sibling who had abused them, but by societal mores which define the experience as bad.

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.

      You have not looked at all the domestic violence research. You've selected only the material which utilizes the Conflict Tactic Scales, which have been shown over the past twenty years to have taken isolated physical actions out of the context of both the incident and the abusive relationship. When these actions are taken in the proper context, it becomes very clear that in the vast majority of cases, the abuse victim is the woman. These scales do have their uses, but they and the research involving them have been misrepresented in order to spread the myth that men and women are equally abusive. Even Richard Gelles, one of the researchers who designed the CTS, has criticized this misrepresentation.

[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.

      I'm sure your new book will be as weak and distorted as your last book. If you want to believe the baloney that misogynistic men's and fathers' rights advocates send to you, feel free. Rather than address your latest "research," I'll refer readers to material that gives a more accurate assessment of your agenda.

Collaborative Lawyers Southeast Florida


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