By Jonathon Van Maren
If the mainstream media decides to eulogize Dr. Judith Reisman, it will be to take aim once again at her legacy and her life’s work. Reisman was a counter-revolutionary in a culture where the Sexual Revolution has been utterly ascendant, and until her death on April 9, 2021, just a few days shy of her 86th birthday, the woman dubbed “the founder of the modern anti-Kinsey movement” by the New Yorker was relentless. She worked until the end, and she will be badly missed by those of us privileged to know her.
Like many counterrevolutionaries, Dr. Judith Reisman started off on the other side of the spectrum. Her parents were members of the American Communist Party, and in the 1940s she belonged to the Labor Youth League in Los Angeles. She was working as a commercial songwriter for NBC, ABC, and CBS in the ’60’s when she discovered that her daughter had been sexually abused “by the boy upstairs,” who, it turned out, had assaulted several children in the neighborhood. The family sent him to England to escape justice, and Reisman’s search for answers led her into academia.
Reisman earned her Ph.D. from Case Western Reserve University and began researching the cultural influences of pornography. She was delivering a lecture in Wales in the mid- ‘70’s on child pornography in Playboy cartoons when a man came up to her and told her: “If you’re really concerned about child sexual abuse you have to look at ‘The Kinsey Reports.’” “Why?” Reisman asked him. “I worked with Kinsey and his aide Wardell Pomeroy. One is a pedophile and the other is homosexual.” “Which is which?” Reisman asked. “Read and discover,” the man replied, and walked away.
This tip triggered Reisman’s research into Dr. Alfred Kinsey, one of the Sexual Revolution’s key architects. She discovered that Kinsey was not the all-American, church-going, married man he presented as, but rather a voracious bisexual who shot illegal porn films in his attic—and that his studies Sexual Behavior in the Human Male (1948) and Sexual Behavior in the Human Female (1953), which purported to tell the truth about the sex lives of Americans and utterly transformed approaches to sexuality in law, politics, culture, and education, were largely fraudulent.
Worse, Reisman exposed the fact that Kinsey had solicited the experiences of pedophiles for his research, highlighting bone-chilling descriptions of child abuse recorded as “child sexuality” in his studies. This is the same research, incidentally, that formed the basis of modern sex education for children on the premise that human beings are sexual from birth. Reisman’s research culminated in ground-breaking books, including Kinsey, Sex and Fraud as well as Kinsey: Crimes and Consequences. (I used her work extensively in Chapter 1 of my 2016 book, The Culture War.)
Dr. Wardell Pomeroy, Kinsey’s co-author, refused to debate Reisman’s findings on CNN and instead threatened to sue her. CNN’s Crossfire, columnist Patrick Buchanan, Phil Donahue, and many other media outlets were threatened with lawsuits by the Kinsey Institute for interviewing Reisman or featuring her work. She later discovered that the Kinsey Institute distributed defamatory materials about her, alleging that her research was not peer-reviewed (it was) and asking that universities forbid her research.
Playboy also sued her for libel and slander over her research showing that they had been promoting children as sexual targets since the 1950s; the judge ruled in her favor after reviewing her findings.
Over the decades that followed, Reisman dedicated her life to exposing the poison of the porn industry and the fraud and sexual violence underpinning Alfred Kinsey’s work and legacy. She served as a research professor at Liberty University School of Law; completed a comprehensive analysis of child pornography in Playboy, Penthouse, and Hustler between 1986 and 1990 as a consultant to the United States Department of Justice; and testified about her findings around the world. The Reagan Justice Department gave her a large grant to study the impact of pornography. Her research has been instrumental in halting the spread of what she frequently called “Kinseyan sexuality”; as a result of her work, the British medical journal The Lancet called for the Kinsey Institute to be investigated for covering up sex crimes against children.
One of the things that always struck me about Judith Reisman was her joie de vivre, which remained intact despite the horrifying nature of the research she conducted and the joyless task of pushing back against a revolution that she saw unfold over the duration of a lifetime. Whenever we talked, she was enthusiastic, passionate, and fully convinced that exposing the truth was both essential and effective—that despite the tidal wave of porn that has swamped our society over the past two decades, good could still prevail. She remembered how it was before the revolution; before Playboy started “corrupting American fathers and grandfathers,” and was personally offended by Alfred Kinsey’s smearing of the Greatest Generation. There is no such thing as the good old days, but there were days when we had not yet forgotten fundamental truths about humanity and sexuality.
I will miss Judith Reisman. She was, simply put, a wonderful woman; a pioneer who never lost her optimism and never forgot that she was fighting evil because goodness, truth, and beauty were worth the effort. She leaves behind a world far worse than it was when she began the fight, and far better because she fought it.
For those interested, I interviewed Judith on her life and work for my podcast in 2019 (one of of several recorded conversations):