Mackenzie Phillips has a new memoir out today, High on Arrival, that documents her turbulent life and struggles with substance abuse. But the big bombshell, which she’ll discuss on Oprah today, is something that has me (and the rest of America) completely horrified and disgusted: she had sex with her father, musician John Phillips.
Photo from Life Magazine.
Though she says at some point the sex became “consensual,” it’s very hard to believe that any daughter could ever actually consent to having sex with her father. The power dynamic between a father and daughter almost ensures that just isn’t possible. Throw in massive substance abuse, and you have an even more unlikely scenario of “consent.”
According to Phillips, the first encounter happened when she was 19, and can certainly be classified as a case of rape:
“On the eve of my wedding, my father showed up, determined to stop it,” writes Phillips, who was 19 and a heavy drug user at the time. “I had tons of pills, and Dad had tons of everything too. Eventually I passed out on Dad’s bed.”
“My father was not a man with boundaries. He was full of love, and he was sick with drugs. I woke up that night from a blackout to find myself having sex with my own father.”
“Had this happened before? I didn’t know. All I can say is it was the first time I was aware of it.”
Knowing this was happening, it’s no surprise that Phillips had serious problems with drug abuse, problems that have followed her into adulthood (she was arrested as recently as 2008 for cocaine possession). While some have questioned the timing of this revelation as a ploy to drive book sales, or unfair as her father is no longer alive, and therefore, unable to tell his side (John Phillips died in 2001), I see it another way. With her father gone, she feels she can tell the story without hurting him. Because even though he did this horrific thing to her, she still loves and defends him, which makes the whole thing even more disturbing.