Self, Sex

How To Know When Sex Is Not Consensual

mackenzie phillips

Ever since Mackenzie Phillips dropped the bombshell on Oprah Winfrey last week about her decade-long "consensual" sexual relationship with her late father, the world has been asking: Why would anyone consent to having sex with one's dad, and for ten whole years?

Our answer: Despite Mackenzie's choice to use the word "consensual" in describing her relationship with her father, it never really was. Here's why:

1. If the the first sexual encounter with one's partner is a rape, then the subsequent sex with said partner is not consensual. Mackenzie says that the first time she and her father had sex, it was not consensual. Rather, she was passed out after using drugs and woke up to find him raping her. More rapes followed, in the same vein. Eventually, Mackenzie began to have sex with him while not unconscious. We believe this may be for a number of reasons: a sense of defeat, the belief that she couldn't do any better, the comfort of the familiar (however awful it might have been), brainwashing on the part of her rapist/father, or a survivalist attempt to "normalize" the rapes so as not to live in a constant state of shame/victimhood. We do not, by any means, see the sex as consensual, however. Mackenzie Phillips Says Father Raped Her

2. When one half a sexual partnership feels uncomfortable with the sex, and the other half consistently rationalizes it, the sex is not consensual. Mackenzie told her father that she considered their first sexual encounter a rape. He called it "making love." Mackenzie told her father that their secret relationship isolated her and reduced her to "a fragment of a person." Her father said that in countires like Fiji, it was "an accepted practice." Clearly, these two were not on the same page. Sombody was being coerced, and, needless to say, if coercion is involved, the sex is not consensual. When Sex Is A Weapon: Surviving Date Rape

3. If one partner is regularly pushing drugs or alcohol on the other partner in order to loosen him or her up, the sex is not consensual. In Mackenzie's case, her father provided her with drugs from the time she was a young child and made sure she had plenty of them the first time he had intercourse with her, as well as during the years that followed. Does a willing partner need to be inebriated in order to partake in sex? We don't think so. And we're certain that if he or she does, that she's being taken advantage of. Sober Dating: How To Date Without Drinking

4. When a person has sex with his or her child, it is not consensual. Relationships with parents are our first and most primal love relationships. They are based on need. They are based on a desire to please. They are based on obligation. And they are never equal. Thus, a parent who chooses to have sex with his or her child is exploiting and manipulating his or her child's love. It doesn't matter if that child is in grade school or, as in Mackenzie's case, a teenager. It is still not consensual.

Photo via Flickr user feastoffun.