Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Violation

I don't know what is going on out there in the world right now, but I feel like I have to say something about some of the comments I've heard both about the Roman Polanski thing and about Mackenzie Phillips' recent admission of incest with her father in her new memoir, High on Arrival.

Re Polanski: Rape is rape. I don't care who you are or what you have done in life. This does not erase the fact that you violated someone. Not "had sex" with her, but committed an act of violence. Look up the word "rape" in the dictionary if you don't believe me. And I must ask: how, in this day and age, is this even up for debate? As a woman I am appalled, as a human being I am speechless.

As for Mack, well yeah I suppose in some world it's amusing to dismiss her past actions with her dad as some "crazy celeb" thing. Problem is, Ms. Phillips is stone cold sober and brilliant to boot. She's not doing it to sell books, and it angers me that anyone would even think that and/or laugh it off. As though incest were some sort of cheap joke or shock tactic. Not now, not never, people.

I have read Mack's memoir and it is one of the bravest pieces of writing I have ever experienced. I am sorry that a frank discussion of incest makes people uncomfortable, but guess what--that's the whole point. This is a woman so far gone in her addictions, so desperate for her father's attention and love that she allowed him to physically violate her. Which was not really that much of stretch given that he had been emotionally violating her all her life. Six words: "Not now honey, daddy's shooting up." Sends a shiver down your spine, right? Imagine being that little girl. The one who watched her dad do drugs, who learned how to shoot up from her own father.

This is tough stuff, people. So yeah, it makes you uncomfortable and maybe you make a joke to cut the tension or ease your conscience or whatever. But let me assure you, if you have ever been that little girl who just wants daddy to pay attention, to listen, to show you he loves you just a little; if you are in enough pain you will do anything--anything. I am just as appalled as anyone at what happened to Ms. Phillips--and intellectually, I am repelled and disgusted, of course---but emotionally, I am right there with her. And I'm sorry if that's hard to understand, but she's not really doing it for the mainstream folks who have led (mostly) happy lives; she's doing it because there are other kids out there just as fucked up as she was who are enduring similar hellish situations and who need--desperately--for someone to listen, to care, someone who understands. She has done a very brave thing by telling this story, and if helps even one kid then she will have done her job.

So please read the book before you judge. Read with an open mind and an open heart and you will see the incidents in their context, will understand that this is not a lurid tale of debauchery but a heartbreaking saga of incredible pain and amazing triumph. It's a hell of a story, and she's a hell of a person.

As for Herr Direktor Polanski, it's going to be very hot where he's going.