Monday, February 8, 2010

The Antithesis of Consent: Mackenzie Phillips' Sexual Relationship with her Father

Mackenzie Phillips released her memoir High on Arrival in September 2009 and prompted confusion across the blogosphere when she described her sexual relationship with her father as ‘consensual’.

Jezebel was quick to ask the important question: ‘Is that even possible?”

Alex Leo from the Huffington Post attacked reports that said she consented.
Nope. Not consensual. Not even close. Whether this is the media's understanding of her lack of outward protest or her own internalization of such heinous events, it's not true.
Alison Rose Levy reminds us that different life experiences can effect our ability to stop or prevent such abuse and that people without similar experiences might be quick to judge the victim.
It's a misunderstanding when people with normal development and limited experience of abuse, incest, or drugs assume that someone with a very different experience would be able to think, function, or act as they do.
As a result of numerous responses, including the reactions of victims of incest, Phillips has clarified her statements. In a recent interview, she stated that she chose to use the word consensual at the time she was writing her book because she didn’t know how else to describe it, but on reflection she recognizes there is no way for that to be the case. In the new interview, she got it exactly right.
[T]here really is no such thing as consensual incest due to the inherent power a parent has over a child.
I would like to wish Mackenzie Phillips the best of luck, recognizing you were in fact a victim is the hardest step. Her example will help many women and men who are facing current and past experiences with incest. However, destigmatization of incest has a long way to go and victims still unfairly feel shame for what has been done to them.

For more information about incest, check out the page on the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN) website.

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