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What Men’s Rights guru Warren Farrell actually said about the allegedly positive aspects of incest. (Note: it’s even more repugnant than that sounds.)

So there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the recent talk that old school Men’s Rights guru Warren Farrell gave at the University of Toronto. Protesters troubled by Farrell’s repugnant views on incest and date rape, among other things, blocked the entrance to the building holding the talk; police broke up the blockade. You can find various videos of what went down on YouTube. I’m not going to try to sort out all the various claims and counterclaims about what happened.

I personally don’t approve of blocking people from giving talks, even if their ideas are repugnant. But I certainly do approve of holding people responsible for what they say, and Farrell – in addition to being wrong about nearly every aspect of relations between men and women – has said some truly awful things over the years.

Exhibit A: A notorious interview he gave Penthouse magazine in the 1970s in which he discussed a book he was researching about incest, tetatively titled The Last Taboo: The Three Faces of Incest.

Let me put a giant TRIGGER WARNING here for disturbing discussion of incest and child sexual abuse.

In the interview, he argued that incest could be a good thing for everyone involved. Indeed, he waxed poetic about the possible positive effects:

“Incest is like a magnifying glass,” he told interviewer Philip Nobile. “In some circumstances it magnifies the beauty of the relationship, and in others it magnifies the trauma.”

The book Farrell was working on never appeared, and Farrell would apparently prefer it if what he said in that interview simply vanished into the memory hole, but a radical feminist site called the Liz Library has a copy of the original 1977 magazine in which it appeared, and has put high quality scans of it online. You can find them here.

Here are some of the things Farrell said in that interview. I’ve put the direct quotes from Farrell in bold; the rest is Nobile’s summary of what Farrell told him.

The article summarized the “findings” of Farrell’s (at that time incomplete) incest research, starting with his take on mother-son incest:

Mother-son incest represents 10 percent of the incidence and is 70 percent positive, 20 percent mixed, and 10 percent negative for the son. For the mother it is mostly positive. Farrell points out that boys don’t seem to suffer, not even from the negative experience. “Girls are much more influenced by the dictates of society and are more willing to take on sexual guilt.”

Apparently, in his view, girls feel bad about the abuse not so much because abuse is inherently bad, but because “society” tells them it’s bad; he returns to this theme repeatedly.

Apparently Farrell’s “findings” about father-daughter incest were not quite as cheery:

The father-daughter scene, ineluctably complicated by feelings of dominance and control, is not nearly so sanguine. Despite some advertisements, calling explicitly for positive female experiences, Farrell discovered that 85 percent of the daughters admitted to having negative attitudes toward their incest. Only 15 percent felt positive about the experience. On the other hand, statistics from the vantage of the fathers involved were almost the reverse — 60 percent positive 10 percent mixed, and 20 percent negative. “Either men see these relationships differently,” comments Farrell, “or I am getting selective reporting from women.”

Yea, that’s right. He’s saying that the overwhelming majority of the abusive men he interviewed enjoyed sexually abusing their daughters, but for some baffling reason their daughters generally didn’t enjoy the abuse. And the explanation for this is that perhaps the daughters are lying – er, sorry, “selectively reporting?”

The bit about advertisements seems to suggest that Farrell went out of his way to try to find and interview women who felt positively about being sexually abused, but still was unable to find more than a small percentage who did.

The article continues. (This is Nobile summarzing Farrell, not Farrell’s direct words.)

In a typical traumatic case, an authoritarian father, unhappily married in a sexually repressed household and probably unemployed, drunkenly imposes himself on his young daughter. Genital petting may have started as early as age eight with first intercourse occurring around twelve. Since the father otherwise extends very little attention to his daughter, his sexual advances may be one of the few pleasant experiences she has with him.

Let’s just repeat that last sentence for emphasis:

Since the father otherwise extends very little attention to his daughter, his sexual advances may be one of the few pleasant experiences she has with him.

The article continues:

If she is unaware of society’s taboo and if the mother does not intervene, she has no reason to suspect the enormity of the aberration. But when she grows up and learns of the taboo, she feels cheapened.

So the incest “taboo” is the main problem, not the abuse itself?

And here is a doozy of a quote from Farrell directly:

“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.”

(Note: I’m relying on the Liz Library’s transcription of this quote; some of the text in their scan of this page is blurry.)

Farrell told Nobile that he was feeling hesitant about publishing his book, because it might encourage exploitation of daughters, but that he felt compelled to continue researching it for two main reasons:

“First, because millions of people who are now refraining from touching, holding, and genitally caressing their children, when that is really a part of a caring, loving expression, are repressing the sexuality of a lot of children and themselves. Maybe this needs repressing, and maybe it doesn’t. My book should at least begin the exploration.”

“Second, I’m finding that thousands of people in therapy for incest are being told, in essence , that their lives have been ruined by incest. In fact, their lives have not generally been affected as much by the incest as by the overall atmosphere.

Farrell also hopes to change public attitudes so that participants in incest will no longer be automatically perceived as victims. “The 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 prophecy. “

According to The Liz Library, Farrell now claims that the bit about “genitally caressing” children is a misquote, and that what he really said was “generally caressing.” You can see the scan of the page here; Penthouse clearly has him saying “genitally.”

But let’s assume that Farrell is telling the truth and Nobile misheard the word. Here’s the quote again, with that one word changed.

First, because millions of people who are now refraining from touching, holding, and generally caressing their children, when that is really a part of a caring, loving expression, are repressing the sexuality of a lot of children and themselves.

I’m not sure that’s much better; he’s still talking about “touching, holding, and … caressing” children in a sexual context.

Farrell has not, to my knowledge, challenged any of the other quotes in this interview besides that one. Nor, again to the best of my knowledge, has he forthrightly repudiated the substance of what he said. If he wishes to clarify or challenge any of this I will happily give him space here on this blog to do so.

I should note that in the interview Farrell stopped short of actually advocating incest. But his reasoning here is curious, to say the least:

“I’m not recommending incest between parent and child, and especially not between father and daughter. The great majority of fathers can grasp the dynamics of positive incest intellectually. But in a society that encourages looking at women in almost purely sexual terms, I don’t believe they can translate this understanding into practice.”

So apparently father-daughter incest – ie, sexual abuse – isn’t a good idea because in a sexist society fathers are likely to do it wrong?

I encourage everyone with the stomach for it to read the entire Penthouse piece, which also discusses the incredibly creepy views of some other incest “researchers” at the time.

I will highlight more of Farrell’s problematic views in future posts.

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Kim
Kim
8 years ago

We are EVIL FEMINISTS because we think it’s ok for a woman to only want one child instead of as many as humanly possible.

LBT
LBT
8 years ago

RE: Kittehs

I used to work at an orthopedic shoe place. I now actually care a lot about the orthopedic properties of footwear, but I can’t tell WHAT gender that’s supposed to be.

cloudiah
8 years ago

There should be an internet test.

Signs your cat might be a hobbit:
_X_ Does your cat have hair on its feet?
_X_ Is your cat smaller than most humans?
_X_ Does your cat really enjoy food?
_X_ Does your cat have pointed ears?
___ Is your cat fond of smoking pipe-weed?

My cat is a non-smoking hobbit!

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

LBT – I wear orthotic insoles, so blessings upon all those who help people with crappy feet!

I think feet need genders all their own. The word for mine would be “uncooperative”!

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

YES! I knew it! Cats is hobbits! Or hobbits is cats.

I’d actually go to see the film if they had cats playing hobbits.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

And OMG someone’s already done it …

http://youtu.be/V2k_EiYh4IU

LBT
LBT
8 years ago

I was going to say, Kittehs, it’s the INTERNET. How could it NOT have been done?

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

I didn’t even like The Hobbit as a book all that much, but I’m totally going to see the movie anyway just because it will look so gorgeous. I have issues with LOTR, but even so I have to admit that the first time I saw the first movie (in IMAX!) it looked so amazing that I just wanted to go find Jackson and give him a big hug for getting it so right visually.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

LBT – good point! 😀

CassandraSays – I was never wild about The Hobbit either; I only read it all through when we had to do it at school. Loved LotR, though, which is why I didn’t want to see the film: I didn’t like the look of it. Other reasons, too, but that was the main one.

LBT
LBT
8 years ago

Never a big LOTR fan, but I did live in Wellington, NZ for a while, and one of my buddies there lived by a quarry that was either the Mines of Moria or Helms Deep. I can never remember which.

Also, one of my flatmates worked on the set of King Kong. (He left; he said he was treated so abominably that it wasn’t worth it. And keep in mind, he was not a picky man.)

ithiliana
8 years ago

@Cloudiah: *sporfle* Some of our cats were hobbits (Cubby Bear, Murphy, especially–the big hairy feet, the love of multiple meals, the cuddling–oops, am suddenly thinking of fanon not canon, and “hobbit-piles”) (We’ve gone from 13 to 3 cats the past half dozen years, so that’s why the past tense, sniffle).

But SOME of our cats are Elves (diminished elves): Luthien and Arwen.

They are sort of sisters/related (both abandoned on campus, found some months apart).

Dark torties (dark and beautful!)

ELegant tiny feet and pointy ears.

Long backstory about how they diminished, and the problems of marrying mortal men (Beren, Aragorn).

And TOTAL DEMANDING ENTITLEMENT because, PRINCESS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Arwen especially loves ham (there’s a detail Tolkien missed, but as they point out, he didn’t get everything in).

We also have Pippin the Warrior Princess (mix of golden lab, chow, and possibly wolf hybrid). I thought she was named Pippin after….the hobbit. My partner has informed me she was named Pippin after a Merovingian King (Pippin long hair?).

pecunium
8 years ago

Pippin was the king who succeeded Charlemagne. A very good musical was made about him (historical… not so much. Fun, and with a decent message, very much).

Alan
Alan
8 years ago
Reply to  cloudiah

I get emails because I responded to something in this thread a long time ago, so I am assuming whatever I’m reading is related to something I said, but I must have just checked the “notify me of new posts via email”, and gotten a bunch of random posts. Anyway, enjoy yourselves.

inurashii
inurashii
8 years ago

“Hey guys just checking in to let you know that I am way too cool to care about any of you, k bye.”

Sorry, Al, but it ain’t about you. You’re getting all replies to anybody in this thread, so if we start an unrelated conversation — like, say, our favorite way to spend a rainy day — you’ll get notified.

So … we will, thanks.

titianblue
titianblue
8 years ago

I get emails because I responded to something in this thread a long time ago

Yeah, that “long time ago” was yesterday.

pecunium
8 years ago

Titianblue: There are 86,400 seconds in a day. That’s a lot of seconds. That’s 4 times more seconds than Bob has posted words in the thread he hijacked.

emilygoddess
emilygoddess
8 years ago

Everyone’s talking about Bob and his threadjacking, but it must be one of the threads I’m not following, because I have no idea what’s going on…

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

It’s on the MGTOWer thread, emilygoddess – over a thousand comments now, and after all that it turns out that Pity Party Bob runs mgtow.com, so he’s been a fake all along.

Beware of reading it all, though. Your eyes will end up as burning red holes.

pecunium
8 years ago

Kitteh’s: That was a mistake Dave made. Not Bob but, “the Thinker”.

wwworzw
wwworzw
8 years ago

This man did more for feminism than all of you put together and you are quoting him ooc without even one bit of knowledge about this topic yourself and simply trying defame him?
Shame on you.

jason
jason
8 years ago

you aren’t going to sort out the claims because you can’t debunk warren Farrell since he is well a published and educated man with actually knowledge on a subject while you are just a whine misandry apologist

pecunium
8 years ago

wwworzw: The entire interview is quoted, and Farrell’s gloss included. What “Context” do you think was lacking.

Also, even if he’s the second coming of Susan B. Anthony, Emma Goldman and Sylvia Pankhurst rolled into one, the stuff here merits scorn. Having done a decent thing is no absolution for fucking up. If he wants that, he has to abjure the fuck-up.

cloudiah
8 years ago

Of course the reality, which I know pecunium knows, is that Farrell did fuck-all for feminism.

Thanks for playing, wwworzw!

wwworzw
wwworzw
8 years ago

He studied that topic for seven years and reported his findings in an academic way. Without taking this into consideration you’re only creating something to hate on for the sake of it.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

First and foremost, why did I read the OP?!

Second —

“Second, I’m finding that thousands of people in therapy for incest are being told, in essence , that their lives have been ruined by incest. In fact, their lives have not generally been affected as much by the incest as by the overall atmosphere. …

So um, everyone who’s been here awhile knows I’m a sexual assault survivor…not sure I’ve previously worked up the guts to mention that started with incest (long story, and no I’m not going there right now) — told it ruined my life in therapy? More like my first decent psych was the one who managed to convince me it wasn’t my fault, because that“the overall atmosphere” was that I must’ve enjoyed it, or been partly responsible, or something.

Third — *chews an ativan*

Fourth, to address wwworzw’s “point” — the only thing this person has done for feminism is highlight all the things feminism is not (and person there should be said like iste, for my fellow Latin fans).

In summary — I know more about this topic than I’d care to, and almost certainly more than you wwworzw; Farrell is a scary fool; ativan doesn’t taste as bad as you’d think.

katz
8 years ago

and person there should be said like iste, for my fellow Latin fans

Indeed. Why does English so lack pejorative pronouns?

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

He told it in an academic way so we should just forget that he decided his “study participants” must’ve been lying? That’s not research, hell, that’s not even logic, and if I were less pissed off (and firefox were behaving better) I’d even play name-that-fallacy.

clairedammit
clairedammit
8 years ago

This man did more for feminism than all of you put together

Got a link? Or at least a list? No, of course you don’t.

pecunium
8 years ago

Without taking this into consideration you’re only creating something to hate on for the sake of it.

Bullshit.

As I said, he could be a “perfect feminist” (he’s not and the justification you give is pissant… really if you are going to try and make us swoon for Farrell’s FemCred you need better than, “reported it in an academic way, but I digress), and what he said would still merit scorn, opprobrium, and protest.

However I do see one thing in your argument which has improved, you’ve dropped the claim he was taken out of context.

The Kittehs' Unpaid Help

So, wwworzw, is there any reason we shouldn’t see you as an incest apologist, since you’re so full of praise for Farrell?

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Ok, now that FF is behaving and I can type properly — wtf are we supposedly making up? A well documented playboy interview? That it said incest had positive aspects? That this isn’t remotely feminist?

Or maybe we’re inventing the fact that all this shit has been said repeatedly, except every other example I can think of involved legal proceedings in a child sexual abuse case? In other words, this exact pseudo-logic has been used to support accused molesters and rapists.

As for Spot That Fallacy!

The “argument” itself is a couple —

Fallacy of the single cause (causal oversimplification[26]) – it is assumed that there is one, simple cause of an outcome when in reality it may have been caused by a number of only jointly sufficient causes.

Psychologist’s fallacy – an observer presupposes the objectivity of his own perspective when analyzing a behavioral event.

And that lovely tidbit about how it was presented academically?

Cherry picking (suppressed evidence, incomplete evidence) – act of pointing at individual cases or data that seem to confirm a particular position, while ignoring a significant portion of related cases or data that may contradict that position.[40]

ElizabethP
8 years ago
Reply to  jason

If I was going to apologize for being a misandrist I wouldn’t do it with whine.

wwworzw
wwworzw
8 years ago

It’s still taken ooc exactly because you put it in a way implying that it is his opinion, rather than his research. Seven years of it, and with absolutely no background to speak of, posting your thoughts as facts on it.

And why do I need to post his achievements regarding femenism, a quick google search can do that. No it isn’t mind blowing, who would have thought? .. But it is certainly far more than posting this hate speech online.

But who am I talking with? Internet warriors… ridiculous. There is no merit to it. Keep your hate in your online world and get happy with it. I’m out.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

I rate that flounce as a 4/10 —

1) We’re posting hate speech
2) “This man did more for feminism than all of you put together” => “And why do I need to post his achievements regarding femenism, a quick google search can do that. No it isn’t mind blowing, who would have thought?” …oh idk, all of us?
3) Semi-coherent sentence structure
4) “Internet warriors”

Laterz dude.

thenatfantastic
thenatfantastic
8 years ago

““Either men see these relationships differently,” comments Farrell, “or I am getting selective reporting from women.””

I think his own fucking quotes imply pretty hard that it’s his opinion, and not his research findings.

But yes, we’re the ones being lazy here.

I also love the idea that this is the only thing any of us do. I mean, I’m organising a fundraiser right at the moment.

Finally, if Warren Farrell doing a couple of other things means we should forgive him for the whole ‘advocating child abuse’ thing, doesn’t that mean if we’ve done one good thing in our lives, you should ‘forgive’ us for what you’ve decided (without evidence or logic) are our ‘failings’?

timetravellingfool
8 years ago

Wow, one of this guy’s counter arguments was actually ‘why do I need to evidence my claims when you can research them and find evidence for your own selves!’ Hey, why does he even bother to write his comments when we could write them for him? Actually, I think we might do a better job….

timetravellingfool
8 years ago

So, I googled ‘Farrell’s contributions to feminism’, and I suppose this is the basic premise of his recent work ‘The Myth of Male Power’: “In the past, neither sex had power; both sexes has roles: women’s role was raise children; men’s role was raise money.”
So, a couple of problems-
‘the past’- whose past? what time frame? where did you get your incredibly simplistic view on the roles of women? You probably mean white people in Europe during the witch burnings, because that is when women had the least power (oops) I mean were relegated most strictly to kitchen duty. Or the fifties after the war? But historically, even in white western society women’s roles were far more complex than baby raising. Seriously, dude, seven years researching this topic and that’s what you came up with?

Neither sex had power- how the hell do you define power, dude? Yes, men had to do stuff that they didn’t like. Does that mean they weren’t powerful? A president actually has to do stuff to run a country- does that make a president powerless? Who made the majority of decisions and had the economic and social clout to back them up in a household? See, that would be an actually useful working definition of power.

Back to ‘roles’- who exactly is he referring to again? Because, historically, women have had much more complex roles in society than baby raising, and men more complex than money raising. Actually, that is probably the basic flaw in that guy’s argument- he doesn’t try to demonstrate there is a lack of power with men, he just refuses to acknowledge any actual power that might exist. I was tempted to go on to explain how women in societies where they contribute more to the household economy generally express more power, but what the hell am I arguing against? This guy’s concept of power seems to be absolute godhood.

timetravellingfool
8 years ago

“Farrell concurs that men earn more money, and is one form of power, but adds that “men often feel obligated to earn money someone else spends while they die sooner–and feeling obligated is not power.”

Bahahaha, yeah, the dude actually argues that if you actually have to expend effort to enjoy dominion, it isn’t really dominion. Jesus, what a tool.

reginaldgriswold
reginaldgriswold
8 years ago

Warren Farrell’s contributions to feminism? Like saying that what we can rape now, we used to call exciting? And that women who are date raped were date raped because they were committing date lying, and leading poor hapless men to think they might get laid? Poor men who then had no choice but to rape those liars in order to get the sex to which they’re entitled?

Yeah. Warren Farrell’s feminism is great stuff. No wonder he had to study for seven years to come up with it. /s

reginaldgriswold
reginaldgriswold
8 years ago

What we *call* rape. And ignore the tense issues in the second sentence … not my morning, I guess.

timetravellingfool
8 years ago

Committing date lying? Crap, are you bloody serious?

Amused
8 years ago

Yes, he really did express some ideas about how women mislead men into thinking that there would be sexitimes, just to get a free meal or a free drink. Once she’s got what she wanted, the woman bids good night, leaving the poor chap with blue balls. Which is exactly like rape.

reginaldgriswold
reginaldgriswold
8 years ago

Yeah. You can really see the blueprints of the modern MRM in the Myth of Male Power. It’s a bunch of whinging abuser speak.

timetravellingfool
8 years ago

I hope he shows up here so I can protest.

pecunium
8 years ago

wworzw: And why do I need to post his achievements regarding femenism, a quick google search can do that. No it isn’t mind blowing, who would have thought? .. But it is certainly far more than posting this hate speech online.

Wow…. who knew that someone telling you to google something was all it takes to “prove” it. That’s not the way argument works. You make a claim, you support it. It’s not assumed true, it must be proven.

Try this… google, “Warren Farrell misogynist”. You’ll get lots of hits.

More to the point… It doesn’t matter one iota what feminist activities he may have done. He’s an inscest apologist; at the very least, and an advocate at the worst.

Your idea of context is to say, “this is what Farrell says, and he did research so you have to accept it as harmless”.

That’s horseshit.

But who am I talking with? Internet warriors… ridiculous. There is no merit to it. Keep your hate in your online world and get happy with it. I’m out.

If there’s no merit in arguing on the internet (arguably the most effective medium at present for affecting public opinion) why are you doing it?

Oh, wait you aren’t. You are a poser. You come in, pretend to make arguments’ whine that we don’t do your work for you and then declare victory in a puff of arrogance and leave. I see why you think there is no merit in it; there isn’t. Not the way you do it.

spokenarbiter
8 years ago

Judge and be judged. Mr. Farrell has simply analyzed incest and its place in modern society.

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

“Judge and be judged. Mr. Farrell has simply analyzed incest and its place in modern society.”

To everyone else — this is why I review anything that ends up as a top post, because it’s generally been necro’ed.

To our spokenarbiter —

First, nice try on the nym, you don’t happen to be related to the anti-troll or Diogenes the Cynic do you?

Second, drive-by-trolling? What are the odds you’ll even see this?

Third, and to the point, Farrell analyzed the place of incest in modern society? So he categorized the differences in incest laws in various states/countries? No? Wtf he really did was analyze his views on incest, it ceased to be academic the moment he ignored and rejected data that didn’t fit his pre-existing view.

Let’s have a short lesson the scientific method, shall we? First, you come up with a theory on something, whether it’s a chemical reaction, how color vision works, society’s views on something, or how incest impacts those involved. Then, you do a literature review and figure out what the currently accepted view is, in Farrell’s case, the simple version of that would be “incest is harmful”. Next, you do research of some variety to attempt to disprove the view you found in your lit. review (in science terms, you’re attempting to disprove the null hypothesis, because the accepted view, the null hypothesis, is assumed correct until it’s proven incorrect).

Once you have results, you do math stuff to them (I’ll leave the math out, seeing how I just confuse the MRM when I try explaining statistics). When you do this math stuff, you can not cherry pick which results to include, assuming you like being taken seriously in your chosen field. Should you decide to ignore results that contradict your theory, well, bad things will happen — at best, you just won’t get published, at worst, you’ll loose your professional license — depends your field, and how far your research gets before your lack of ethics becomes known. In any case, it’s the professional equivilant of egg on your face.

Now, he could’ve done an analyze on what people think about incest, that is, ask people whether they think incest is always harmful, but even then, he can’t throw out the opinions of people who disagree with him. No matter what question he asked, or of whom, cherry picking data flies in the face of professional ethics.

Note how my four paragraph lesson in science does not require the question/theory to involve incest. Cherry picking your results regarding botany is just as bad (hint, Mendel’s data is considered “too clean” these days, he probably cherry picked it, luckily for him he was dead by the time anyone noticed, and has since been proven correct many times over)

Argenti Aertheri
Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

Opinions guys — are drive-by-trolls crunchy and good with ketchup (or your chosen spread) or just annoying?

I can never decide, but neither can I pass up a chance to lecture on anything statistical.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

So spokenarbiter is judgybitch, right?