Minimizing Rape: Phillips, Letterman, and Polanski

Mackenzie Phillips

Mackenzie Phillips

Young girls and women who experience incest, sexual molestation, and sexual harassment carry scars that never, ever quite heal.  We tell ourselves that the sex was consensual because we can’t bear to say out loud that we were raped. . .often by someone we admired and respected. . .until he stole our innocence.  On CNN, therapist Debra Laino described the damage:

Their sexual selves are damaged.  Their emotional selves are damaged, because “who do I trust?”  My father did this.  My mother did this.  Who can I trust if I can’t trust my family?

By definition, incest, sexual molestation, and sexual harassment are not consensual.  There is no real choice.  Someone who has power and control over our destiny compels us to become docile and submissive or face the consequences.

The sad trajectory of Mackenzie Phillips’ life post-incest with her father John Phillips is typical.  Eve Ensler in a Huffington Post article about Roman Polanski on September 30 observed:

. . .rape is a legal crime and a crime against the soul.  As a survivor, I can attest to the fact that rape forever changes your life, robbing you of dignity, self-worth, agency over your body, and comfortability with intimacy and trust, while also escalating a pervasive sense of isolation and shame.

After 11 years of traveling the world and meeting with rape survivors across the planet I can say that the long-term consequences are multiple and far-reaching, ranging from homelessness, drug abuse, and eating disorders, to imprisonment, suicide, and early death.

I am as incensed as Ms. Ensler that entertainment celebrities appear to be able to abuse the power of their positions to rape women and girls with impunity.

I was appalled last night to hear the audience at David Letterman’s show laugh and clap as he announced that he had sexually harassed women on his staff.  I’m sure there are details to this story that would stop those audience members cold if the object of his illegal behavior had been their beloved daughters.

Letterman and Birkitt

Letterman and Birkitt

Stephanie Birkitt, Letterman’s long-time assistant, for example, has come forward about her relationship with him.  She was also involved with Robert “Joe” Halderman, a 48 Hours (CBS) producer.  Ms. Birkitt is 34.  Letterman is 62.  Halderman is 51.

Dave Letterman, some reports allege, is paying for her law school education.  They claim their relationship ended in 2003 before Letterman’s marriage.  Ms. Birkitt’s relationship with Halderman is also over.  What I’d like to know is how and why he came into possession of her diaries, correspondence, and photographs from a relationship that ended at least six years ago when Ms. Birkitt was 28 and Letterman was 56?

Letterman and his attorney have engaged in brilliant damage control.  Yet, the fact that they met with Halderman three times and Letterman characterized his own conduct as “creepy” tell me that perhaps that Halderman ~ in his own misguided way ~ was seeking back-door damages for a young woman so traumatized that she is unable to maintain healthy relationships.  With the way Letterman’s team has spun this news, I can imagine how his legal team would have ground Ms. Birkitt’s career to dust if she dared file a claim for sexual harassment.

Letterman is playing the role of the “menaced” victim seeking to protect his family and his job.  Right.  The real victim in this sad case is Ms. Birkitt and the other women on Letterman’s Worldwide Pants payroll.  I think it is very interesting that the illegal behavior of sexual harassment is not against company policy.


And, then, we have creepy Roman Polanski.  He admitted drugging, raping, and sodomizing a 13-year-old girl in 1977.  Because he’s a highly successful movie mogul, he evaded prison time by fleeing to France the night before he was to be sentenced.  His creepy buddies like Woodie Allen are protesting that we should give the old man a break.  Paul Petersen opined that many of Hollywood’s elite are afraid to speak out against Polanski because:

They are afraid of the Hollywood power structure that is tilted distinctly to the left and plays favorites.

Polanski also appears to have evaded paying a $500,000 settlement to Samantha Geimer, the young woman who says Polanski gave her champagne and quaaludes during a photo shoot at Jack Nicholson’s Hollywood Hills home.

BJ at FreeUSNow thinks it is time for a boycott.  I agree.  The misogyny that is rampant in the entertainment industry isn’t going to stop until it bites the wallets of these creepy bastards.

10 responses to “Minimizing Rape: Phillips, Letterman, and Polanski

  1. Pingback:·

  2. CBS is following an old custom of promoting sexual health by allowing wanton debauchery. Ms Curoc of course condones such company policies of having comfort women on staff. Lecherman did not coerce or force these young women, because he is so appealing and sensitive to women. Gag! Nobody cares about ruined futures, ruined marriages, or abuse of power. The show must go on, over a lot of innocent lives ruined.

  3. “Lecherman” ~ I love it! Thanks for the giggle. You know, I never did like him. The way his tongue darts around reminds me of a lizard or some creepy reptile.

    My impression of Stephanie Birkitt is that she’s an inordinately naive young woman unable to see the train wreck headed toward her career. My guess is that her ex-lover Halderman was trying to protect her. His strategy was incredibly stupid, but I think he was well-intentioned.

    Thanks for leaving a comment.

  4. who knows what her ‘relationships’ were with these men, coersion, seduction, manipulation, and who did what to whom? Only the 3 know the real story. Why would you let someone else try and extort for you? How did the items get into the hands of that man? More details to follow, it will be very intricate,insteresting spin.

  5. Thanks for commenting, Di.

    My sense is that Ms. Birkitt is extraordinarily naive. It is curious that she’s had two relationships with men who are significantly older than she is. . .like she’s looking for a daddy to protect her.

    Because the “extortion” took place shortly after the end of the relationship between Ms. Birkitt and Mr. Halderman, I’m guessing that he’s off on a misguided quest to hold Letterman accountable for abusing the power of his position and messing up Ms. Birkitt’s psyche and ability to have a healthy relationship.

    It appears the other women Letterman sexually harassed are about to come forward. Before this is over, I have a strong hunch that none of the relationships were “consensual” and that we’ll learn Letterman is a serial sexual harasser. . .which. . .hopefully. . .will end his career.


  6. Letterman or Lecherman is nothing but a sexual predator! Who preys upon young, impressionable women looking for acceptance and acknowledgement in a industry that is littered with “users” like Letterman, Polanski and the rest of the predators.

    These men should be made to account for their disgusting behavior. I hope that every rotten thing comes out about Letterman and his sordid lifestyle.

    He deserves nothing but, disgust!

  7. Anne, first I want to say, for the most part I feel your blog here was well written. You stated your view as an opinion and not fact; I believe we can only speak for ourselves, not for others.

    I agree on your discussion regarding Phillips, she had sex willingly with John, only after the first occurrence while she was basically blacked out (Rape). I would also agree that although not in the legal sense, incest is basically rape due to the leverage of power one person is taking over the other. I would guess that most cases of incest do not start with lets say an Uncle asking a niece “hey I was wondering if maybe you would be interested in us starting an intimate relationship” Most likely it is someone coercing the other person through a power play.

    As for your views on the letterman case, I do not agree that Sexual harassment is illegal. Sexual harassment can be as little as telling an off color joke or telling a coworker how sexy they look (basically hitting on them) although sexual harassment is wrong, usually not illegal. David lettermen abused his power as a celleb, this makes him an A-hole, not a Sexual predator, not in the sense we know it today anyway. The so called victim in this case, I feel maybe should take some responsibility here. Noticed I said maybe, depending on the true details of the Letterman affair and how much he pressured this person into the relationship. In saying that, the excuse “I felt I could not say no because of who he is” to me is not an excuse and some responsibility lies on the female. Again, I do not think we have all the clear details in this case and there is a grey area we will not know or fully understand. Please realize though I am not defending letterman here, just not sure the female in the equation is really a victim or not.

    I will say, overall I do agree with you that man (and on occasion women) using power to start or control a relationship is wrong, very wrong. But the other side is the “victim” needs to show strength and say no. When it is way to difficult to say no, due to threats of any kind, then it crosses legal boundaries. For example “If you want to keep your job here, you will go along” This to me is criminal. on the other hand “This could really help your career in the future” is wrong and should be against any company policy, but does not cross legal boundaries and the receiving person has the responsibility to say “NO”.

    Thanks Anne for your insight well received”.

  8. Thanks for your respectful comments, Steve.

    Actually, sexual harassment is illegal. The cases are prosecuted in federal courts on the civil rather than criminal docket. In other words, it is illegal, but it isn’t technically considered criminal. This means the penalties tend to be monetary rather than prison time.

    This issue is highly sensitive to me because I have been fired (and not hired) mutliple times for saying “no.” When the word got out that I wasn’t “docile and submissive,” I discovered there would be no future employment for me. It was made abundantly clear to me during numerous job interviews that I was being screened as much for my professional expertise as for my seductive call girl skills. We were called office wives.

    In some industries ~ like entertainment ~ it seems the power brokers perceive the women on their staffs to be sexual gratification perks. . .like a corner office, a limo, and use of the corporate jet. Young, naive women from small towns are hired to service old geezers like Letterman.

    None of us will really know what went on behind closed doors on the Letterman show. The only thing I know for sure is that I have absolutely no respect for the man.


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