UPI “Perspectives” Interviews CWA’s Crouse

Print Friendly

This interview was originally broadcast by Voices of Peace / UPI Perspectives in March 2005. It is reprinted with permission.

Mike Marshall:
Hello, I am Michael Marshall. Welcome to UPI Perspectives. Our guest today is Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, executive director and senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, a center for the study of women’s issues. Dr. Crouse recently co-authored a book with Beverly LaHaye called, A Different Kind of Strength, Rediscovering the Power of Being a Woman. She writes and lectures widely on the topic of how sexual liberation has been harmful to women. Welcome Janice, thank you for coming.

Crouse:
Thank you Michael, it is great to be with you.

Marshall:
You have done a lot of research in this area, marriage and family. The 1960s saw what has become known as the sexual revolution and my guess is that now, 45 years distant, we are able to look at the impact of that revolution, its consequences and do some systematic research on it. What do you see as having been the impact of the sexual revolution? What do we know now that people didn’t know then or chose to ignore then?

Crouse:
One of the biggest things was that when the early feminists were first interested in equality for women, they were looking at it from the standpoint of equality in salary and opportunities for women. They were not doing the same thing that feminists today do, looking at quotas and preferential treatment. They weren’t focusing on a special kind of agenda. What they wanted was respect. What they wanted was equal opportunity. Now when we look back, somewhere along the line, around about the ’60s the feminist movement got derailed. All of a sudden they became so much more interested in sexual freedom than in anything else.

So to me, today, what you have are these people who have very radical agendas who are out there demonstrating for abortion and lesbianism when so many of the mainstream women are out there earning doctorates. They are out there getting advanced degrees; they are out there getting medical degrees. They are finding opportunities for achievement and becoming part of the professional class and they are doing what the early feminists fought for them to do, whereas today the radical feminists are looking at a special agenda and especially for sexual freedom for women.

Marshall:
The sexual revolution, what do we know about its impact on families in terms of divorce, single-parent families and so on?

Crouse:
Well, I know that many people who watch this program are from an international circumstance, so I want to make it clear that when I am talking about sexual freedom, I am not talking about the freedom for a woman not to have to wear a Burka for instance. We would all want women to have the opportunity to have freedom and to choose their own path in life. But, what has happened in the United States is that radical women have said that for women to have power, for women to be empowered, they have to have sexual freedom and by that they mean promiscuity.

Marshall:
And these attitudes or these values of approach to sexuality, has that played out in the culture as a whole and impacted marriage? I know rates of divorce have been up until fairly recently, illegitimacy rates and so on. Do you see these rooted in the change of attitude?

Crouse:
Oh, I think they are so connected. I think the whole sexual revolution has been disastrous for women. Women have borne the brunt of all of the trends you see out there. What has happened is that women, as I tend to say it, have been left to rock the baby and pay the rent. That is what has happened to women.

Marshall:
That is literally true about paying the rent. I think in relationships of cohabitation the woman pays something like on average 70 percent of the cost of the household.

Crouse:
Right, and usually they are left doing the cleaning and laundry and cooking and all of the other things too. So they have the responsibilities of marriage without any of the privileges of marriage. I think it is pretty dumb of women to accept that kind of bargain because what they have is nothing. They don’t have security.

Marshall:
It seems a particularly wicked form of irony that in the pursuit of liberation from all these things, marriage was described as various forms of limitation and oppression. Marriage was considered imprisoning to women. But, it is worse for women who are living in cohabiting relationships.

Crouse:
Just about every measure you want to look at, in terms of their personal lives, women have come out with the short end of the stick because cohabitation has been terrible for women. There are still so many divorces and we have said to the younger generation of women that you might as well live with the guy, a piece of paper is not that important, what is important is the relationship. Well, when it comes right down to it, what is really important is the structure of the relationship because that is what protects a woman; that is what gives her the security she needs.

Number one, to respond sexually, because women need that bond and what we have not told young women is that there are so many different things that come along with a sexual relationship; psychological responses, the bonding that comes along. Most women go into a sexual relationship thinking that the guy loves her and that he wants a relationship and that this is a trial period for marriage. But the men tend to look at living together as a convenient arrangement. Why wouldn’t they? This is a good deal for them. For them they get somebody to pay 70 percent of the income and to do all the cooking and cleaning and so forth. So why would they not want this kind of relationship.

Marshall:
You have done a lot of work in this area of actually comparing the situation within a marriage and the situation of alternatives to marriage, including cohabitating relationships. I believe that when a couple is cohabiting isn’t there evidence that these relationships are more likely to break up, to last a shorter time, even if they marry. What does the research show about that?

Crouse:
The research shows number one, that these relationships don’t last. Most women think that they will. Back in the ’60s, 60 percent of couples who lived together did end up getting married. Now it’s down way below 40 percent of cohabiting relationships that end up in marriage. These relationships typically last 18 months. That is all, 18 months. And yet most of the women go into them thinking they are going to last a long time. Even if they do end up married, these relationships tend to end up in divorce. Eighty percent of them end up with divorce. So rather than being a preparation for marriage, living together ends up being preparation for divorce.

Marshall: What do we know about the impact of these alternative arrangements on children who are raised in them?

Crouse:
You can see all sorts of detrimental outcomes for children who are in single parent families or in a step-parent family or a family where the parents are not married or where one of the parents is a biological parent and the other one is a sexual partner. The children do not do well in school, they are just prey to all sorts of behavioral problems and academic problems.

Marshall:
Yes, I think it is important to make clear, probably to most of the viewers, I certainly know single parents who do a wonderful job of raising their children.

Crouse:
Thank you so much for saying that because that is so important. Because we sound so harsh, I think, when we start talking about this data.

Marshall:
But when you look across the board on average, I mean a whole range of negatives are more prevalent among children coming from single-parent homes than children coming from two-parent homes.

Crouse:
And this is what I find encouraging about the left and the right coming together on these issues because all of us talk about what is good for children and for so many years people were afraid to say anything because they were afraid of sounding like they were criticizing single mothers. And as you have pointed out so accurately, there are so many wonderful single mothers who are doing valiant jobs and terrific jobs. But when you look at the whole trend, there is nothing better for a child than to have both a mother and a father in the family and you can pretty much predict, by and large, there are tremendous exceptions, but by and large there are very negative outcomes when there is a single-parent family.

Marshall:
Let’s explore a little more the impact on children when they grow up. Children of divorce when they, themselves are reaching maturity, starting to live on their own. How does their experience of growing up and their parents divorcing affect their attitudes toward their prospects for marriage, toward the relationships they form sexually.

Crouse:
It has tremendous impact and you know, the funny thing, the most ironic thing about the data that is interesting to me is that these children have the most difficult time when they get ready to get married. When they are of marriageable age, they are very hesitant to commit. I had a very moving experience several months ago. I was on an airplane flight with a young man named Jason, he was a couple of seats over from me. We started talking. He initiated the conversation.

When he found out what I did, that I tracked data about marriage and cohabitation and so forth, he said to me: “I don’t believe in true love anymore.” I said, “Oh, Jason, that makes me really sad. Why would you say that?” He said that his sister had been living with her boyfriend about five years. Got married and was divorced about a year later. He said, “I was so shocked.” I said, “You know Jason, that doesn’t shock me at all because the data bears this out. Most cohabiting relationships do lead to divorce. They don’t lead to a happy marriage.” He said, “Well, I can tell you this. I am not ever going to get married. My parents are divorced, now my sister is and I don’t know anybody who is happily married.”

Marshall:
So when they think marriage they are only thinking that marriage is the step you take before you divorce?

Crouse:
Yes, and they go into marriage hoping it will work, but knowing it is not going to. So they don’t have the commitment to work through the problems number one. They tend to avoid the problems because they think if they acknowledge a problem then this is the end of the relationship. So they don’t have any good models about working through a problem, solving a problem, handling conflict in very constructive kinds of ways. They think a problem means disaster.

Marshall:
Let’s look at the younger age group, the young teens. I guess there’s some good news and some bad news there. I understand that teen pregnancy, teen abortion are down. But at the same time, it seems that quite a number of young teens, a fair proportion of them, are involved at quite a young age in some form of sexual activity. What do we know about what is happening with young teens today?

Crouse:
Well, we are seeing some of the split with teenagers today that we are seeing in the broader culture. We are seeing kind of a red-blue state dichotomy there because you have got on the one hand much more conservative teens, the abstinence movement is growing phenomenally, we are really seeing a move toward abstinence among young people. At the same time there’s real growth in young people who are experimenting with what they call outercourse, where they are experimenting with oral sex, and to them this is not sex. So they think they are preserving virginity by engaging in this kind of behavior, plus we are getting so much peer pressure to young girls saying this is something you have to do in order to keep a boyfriend. So that message

Marshall:
Is that message from boys or is it also from other girls? Do girls feel peer pressure from their girlfriends?

Crouse:
Yes they do. There was a point in some aspects of our culture, I think it is still there, that it is almost embarrassing to be a virgin, to not have done any sexual experimentation. So, that is a factor as well. It is a very sad thing because so many of our young people are having to grow up so soon and they are getting a very distorted view about what sex is like. One girl said to me, “You know sex is not any big deal.” And I wanted to cry because it is a big deal. For us as an older generation to say to young people it is not a big deal we are robbing them of the mystery, we are robbing them of the fun, we are robbing them of the significance of one of life’s most meaningful experiences and I want to say, if that is what you think, you don’t know what you are talking about because it is a big deal and we must get that message out I think.

Marshall:
Let’s talk a little bit about education in that area. In terms of preparing a young person, someone who’s preteen, to think about sex, about love, about relationships, what should parents be telling their children?

Crouse:
I think parents need to start at the very earliest age with their children talking in age- appropriate terms about what it means to have a relationship with someone else. I think they need to inoculate their children in the same way you inoculate against disease. They need to inoculate against the messages the kids are going to get from the culture, from the mass media because kids today are just inundated with messages about sex, and unless the parents get their message in there, the kids are going to hear these other messages and be influenced by them. Those messages say sex is not a big deal; that you ought to experiment, that marriage is nothing but a piece of paper. So I think it is very important for parents to understand that.

And it is very important for them to look at the culture and say things like “Do you see that couple on the television, look at that, they just said hello and there they are, they are in bed. They can’t know each other and trust each other enough to be intimate with each other at this point.” And start making comments like that and observations like, “Did you hear the way that mother talked to her child, that is not the way you talk to a child. I hope I never hear you say to a child of yours those kinds of comments.”

Marshall:
I would like to move to another area that you have also done a lot of work in, a very unpleasant area about sex trafficking, which is a major international problem. Why did you feel you had to get involved?

Crouse:
I was asked about 10 years ago to join a task force, a national task force, against sex trafficking and I said, “What is sex trafficking?” I had absolutely no idea what they were talking about. I learned that sex trafficking is where there are criminals who go in and take advantage of vulnerable children and girls primarily. Now it is increasingly more boys as well, but these organized criminals, just the lowest form of human life, who are just the sleaziest characters imaginable across the globe, go in and take young girls, mostly from underdeveloped countries, and bring them into a more developed country and force them to become sex slaves.

Marshall:
This has happened, I know, a lot with young women from Russia, the Ukraine, being brought into Europe under the pretense of being offered some job and then basically imprisoned. It happens a lot I know also in India and Southeast Asia. Young girls from rural situations are being brought into the big cities and forced into prostitution. I think most people will be surprised to know that this is also a problem in the United States.

Crouse:
Yes, it is just a terrible problem in the United States; up to 17,000 to 20,000 young women are brought into the United States every year. Plus the United States feeds the problem because there are sex tours. A lot of people don’t know about this, but groups of men will go to countries like Cambodia and have sex with little children as young as 9 years of age.

Marshall:
And it has now been made illegal. So the fact that you do it in another country is no longer a defense. If you are a U.S. citizen and it is found out, you can be prosecuted.

Crouse:
Yes, and I am very pleased to have been part of this task force that I talked about. For 10 years we have been working behind the scenes trying to get more of the focus on these criminals and prosecuting the criminals as opposed to deporting victims and just leaving the victims without any solution to their problems and not any restoration. I am very pleased that within the last four years the Department of Justice here in the United States has prosecuted over 109 cases and prior to four years ago there were no prosecutions. None.

Marshall:
In terms of what remains to be done, what would you see as a major step or initiative that still needs to be taken?

Crouse:
Most people need to connect prostitution with the crime of sex trafficking because that is what is driving it.

Marshall:
I read somewhere that between $9.5-10 billion annually are tied up in this sort of business.

Crouse:
It is a big money-making business and the problem is that in order to provide all the prostitutes that are needed in the more developed countries, they are going into these underdeveloped countries and in some instances parents are selling their children because they are desperate. What you find is that girls in the more developed countries don’t want to go into prostitution. They don’t view this as a legitimate way to make a living. They know the downside of prostitution and so what you have is these criminals preying on vulnerable girls.

Marshall:
When I was looking at your bio, your information, I was very impressed by the amazing number of things you have been involved in, as well as researching and speaking and you wrote a book recently which we mentioned in the introduction, A Different Kind of Strength, Rediscovering the Power of Being a Woman, which you co-wrote with Beverly LaHaye, who is the President, I believe, of Concerned Women for America. She is the Chairman of the Board. Tell me a little bit about the book. I was reading a brief description of it. It said one of the things the book does is help readers to see that the God-designed role for women empowers them to live personally fulfilling and culture- shaping lives. This is very much against the radical feminist trend and ideas about the place of women in society. Do you find yourself under a lot of fire for that?

Crouse:
No, no really. Mainstream women really resonate with the book. Ironically, you will find this interesting, Michael, this book has had tremendous reception amongst men because basically it is dealing with very human themes. What we did was tell the Biblical story of the five women who are in Christ’s genealogy and pointed out that these women are not extraordinary women at all. In fact, two of them are kind of bad girls and the others are very ordinary women. So the point of the book is to say that you don’t have to be perfect to used by God for very positive things in the world and that all of us can have a role and have a very positive impact on our environment, on our communities, on our churches, on our children, on the people who are around us. And this is something women can take satisfaction in and that this is part of who we are and what we are required to do as human beings and that you don’t have to be perfect and your worth is not measured by how much money you make or what kind of career you have. But your worth is inherent because you were created by God and you were created for a special purpose as a human being.

Marshall:
I can imagine the feminists saying the traditional role of a woman, that a woman in a traditional role, has to be subservient to her husband or to a man, whether it is her father or her husband and in doing that one is losing one’s independence and to some extent one’s integrity. How do you respond to that?

Crouse:
I respond to that by saying that the Bible has been the most effective force in history for lifting women up to higher levels of respect, dignity and freedom. And when you are living by Biblical principles that is very freeing — in spite of the fact that many churches have not utilized these principles in the ways that we would like for them to have. Nevertheless, the basic principle is true. I mentioned earlier that the early feminists, most of them, were evangelical, Bible-believing women who were doing what they were doing to lift up women and to encourage equality because of their belief in Christianity. That was what was the driving force behind them.

So I would say to people who complain that yes, most evangelical Christians do believe that in a relationship there is something of a hierarchy because someone has to make the ultimate decision. But generally, in a relationship that evens out over time, because it becomes increasingly less important as each of you develop individual strengths, each person in the relationship develops his or her own strengths and in the partnership you rely on one strength at one point and another strength at another point. For instance, I am very visual, so if we are traveling and my husband and I are in a circumstance where we need to go by directions depending on where we have been before, I can say turn left up there because of that sign on that street. My husband on the other hand goes by north, south, east, and west and by a map. So if we are going by a map, he is the one that says, I am turning north here.

Marshall:
So it becomes a partnership where each has strengths and they complement each other.

Crouse:
Exactly.

Marshall:
Let me ask about the place of religion and religious faith in public life. There are perhaps an increasing number of secular people who look with a fair degree of nervousness or hostility at Christian evangelicals. They are fearful and argue that, “Look, you have your beliefs and your involvement in political life or public life, but you are seeking to impose your beliefs on us. You are welcome to believe what you like, just keep it out of the public square.” What is your response to that?

Crouse:
I was thinking about that today. I read a statement arguing that a person’s faith ought to be a private matter. I thought, “Why should it be?” People are free to express their opinions on everything under the sun! I get bored out of my mind listening to people rattle on and on about what they think about this, that and the other. Why shouldn’t somebody be able to speak about the things that are most important to them; the thing that drives them ultimately? When I talk to people I love hearing the differences in different world views and why people come to the particular stance that they take on any ideological idea you want to bring up. So, I think it is kind of disingenuous, quite frankly, for somebody to say your faith ought to be a private matter and shouldn’t enter into it.

Of course, everybody’s world view enters into any decision they make, into any involvement they have. So, of course, your secular view, your atheistic view, your agnostic view, your blasview, whatever your stance is, enters into your life. I don’t think you ought to wear it on your sleeve. I don’t go around talking about my faith all the time. I hope it is part of who I am and I hope that I am an authentic person, but I think if I tried to hide that, that would make me a fake; it would present a false front. So I think to be an authentic person, a real person, your beliefs are a part of who everybody is. What you ultimately believe is important in life.

Marshall:
It is interesting to think back to the origins of America, the Mayflower Compact, which is, of course, an agreement between the Christian believers and the non-Christians where the two views agree to live and work together. It has been a most fascinating discussion, but our time has run out. I would like to thank you very much, indeed, for coming here and sharing about your work with us.

Send this article to a friend:

Leave a Reply