Thursday, December 10, 2009

Mackenzie Phillips and Darkness2Light and the problem of stereotyping professions

I just received a comment responding to this article, about Mackenzie Phillips.

The author of the comment, Meggs, also has a blog called Speaking Out which concerns surviving incest and abuse.

Meggs highlights two events that happened during the past year that deserve our attention.

The first concerns Mackenzie Phillips being given the Darkness2Light Voice of Courage award for speaking out about her experiences.

Meggs writes: Of course, no one in the media wants to focus on the work she is now doing to help prevent child abuse and incest. They all want to dwell on the drug use.

Isn't that the truth! It's all show biz, and trying to make it out like the John Phillips scandal is just an anomaly related to the world of rock stars, like others want to make clergy abuse simply an anomaly of a group's beliefs, standards and practices.

Hey, I keep saying you can't become a Jesuit priest through mail order! You have to go to universities, get credentialed, and the Catholic Church does have its standards churches must adhere to. They're not autonomous, and yet, they were the first religious group that introduced America to the fact that child abuse can happen anywhere.

Sure, Baptist churches, especially independents, might have low standards for their ministers, but, as the Catholic scandals demonstrate, even organizations with high standards and no autonomy can be guilty of turning a blind eye regarding pedophiles.

So, while everybody's patting themselves on the back, thankful they're not subjecting their kids to the abuse of rock stars, fundamentalist preachers, or Catholic priests, there always seems to be someone in any given family, or friends of any given family, who will take advantage of the ignorance that results from stereotyping Hollywood or religious figures.

This is everybody's problem. Hollywood and religious leaders just get stigmatized became they're in the public eye.

In addition to the honor given to Mackenzie by Darkness2Light, Meggs also pointed out an interesting project called 'Searching for Angela Shelton'. This documentary has Angela Shelton taking a trip across America to interview other women who also have the name, Angela Shelton.

It's an amusing premise that's brought into harsh reality when we realize all the Angela Sheltons in this movie have either been raped, or sexually molested, when they were children. Some were also raped when they were adults.

Hmmm, you know, if we treated the Angela Shelton cases like the media treats Mackenzie Phillips, or like other bloggers treat cases of clergy abuse, I can just imagine someone saying, "Well, stop naming your kid Angela Shelton!"

I know! I know! Bad taste. But I keep reading people saying things like, "If you're a pedophile, the best place for you is as a deacon in a Baptist church!" When it happened at a synagogue in New York, a lawmaker actually said, "If you're a pedophile, the best place for you is in a synagogue!" When Mackenzie's story broke, along with the Roman Polanksi arrest, bloggers at Huffington Post were also singing the same tune.

"Pedophilia is wrong, unless you're a famous artist or movie director."

If we're really serious about dealing with the topic of child abuse, some ideas and tactics are just going to have to be abandoned on the highway.

One of those ideas concerns stigmatizing various professions. Some people, in the depths of their subconscious, have the false idea that as long as they're not subjecting their children to:

a: Hollywood moguls
b: religious leaders
c: people in the arts
d: politicians (intern scandals)

. . .that their children are safe from predators.

Nothing could be further from the truth! Stereotyping professions creates a false sense of security. Sometimes the most dangerous place for a child is in his, or her, own home.

Here are some links and video clips related to Mackenzie Phillips and the Angela Shelton project:

From: Official blog of Darkness2Light.

Searching for Angela Shelton.


Jan said...

Nice piece and very insightful. As a coach whose niche is abuse I find the perspective that "our kids are safe as long as they're not in...." fill in the blank to be very naive. The whole notion of NIMBY hits very close to home with sexual abuse: it is usually in the backyards, so to speak, more often than not. Abusers have no profile except to say that they are controllers, they can be rich, poor, female, male, young, old, religious, atheist, kind, mean....Don't make assumptions about what a perpetrator looks like but do know this: they count on silence, they rely on it: they can't do what they do if people talk. So, talk, speak out, speak up with courage knowing there is a very good possibility that people will shun you, will say you're lying, will be unkind to you.
It's lonely to speak up and it's important and those who choose to do so, like Ms. Phillips, have proven that they are not afraid to stand in the fire and take the heat.
Nice job!
Living la vida fearless,

Meggs said...

#1 - THANK YOU...

#2 - Excellent blog. I am spreading it like wildfire. Tweeted it, posted it on our support group profile... It's being read by many, and I hope to goodness that people read it again and again until the message sinks in. This crime is EVERYWHERE, and prevention is key.

Thank you so much for all of things you are doing with your blog to shed light on the fact that this is a WIDESPREAD problem. Statistics prove that this is in pretty much every family, organization, institution. There's no hiding from it.

I appreciate that you have shared the blog and the videos with your readers. Your statement that grassroots is what's gonna get it done is something I definitely agree with.

Kudos to you for your grassroots efforts. Survivors, advocates and victims everywhere are gathering together. I believe we are being heard.

I'd like to share this link with you and your readers:

Lori said...

Your views are incisive and appreciated! It's so true that the public is being misled by media emphasis on certain abusers as opposed to the reality that anyone anywhere could be an abuser. Most cases do occur in the home, or at a relative's home. With so little attention and education being focused, it's no wonder it continues to be so pervasive, and far too often generational.

Parents and children need to hear the truth, and the more of us who speak that truth the better. What you are doing is vital to this cause. We need to spread the word, because child abuse is a pandemic.