By Bryna Koch
Grant Woods Mocked a Victim of Abuse for Laughs by Making Sexualized Jokes
Content Warning: graphic reference of sexual abuse and victim blaming
You might remember that Grant Woods was the Arizona Attorney General from 1991 to 1999. You also might recall his name from the Fiesta Bowl scandal. Grant was hired by the Fiesta Bowl after articles in the Arizona Republic revealed possible campaign-finance violations. Grant was paid $55,000 to investigate these allegations. He investigated for one week and found no wrongdoing. He later admitted his investigation was rushed. Grant published an apology here. After a more thorough investigation, six employees of the bowl including the CEO were found to be involved in campaign-finance violations.
Grant publicly endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2016. In September, just after McCain’s death, Grant said he was considering a run for Senate in Arizona, as an independent or a Democrat. Soon after Kyrsten Sinema won a Senate seat in November 2018, Grant switched his party registration to Democrat.
Grant is a longtime Republican and was former Senator John McCain’s chief of staff when McCain was a congressman. Since Grant hasn’t held office in Arizona for nearly 20 years, most people don’t know very much about him. However, he has been involved in politics since college, and has been a lawyer, lobbyist, and self-appointed pundit for decades, which means there is quite a bit of information available about him. We are pretty surprised that some of his early Democratic cheerleaders haven’t taken a closer look at his views.
One method Grant used for voicing his opinion publicly was his Phoenix-based radio program on KTAR and KFYI, called the Grant Woods Show.
The following video is an excerpt from the Grant Woods Show published on September 28th, 2009. Grant and his three male guests are discussing a book by Mackenzie Phillips where Mackenzie revealed sexual abuse by her father. Mackenzie Phillips is an actress and singer, and daughter of John Phillips who was in the band The Mamas and the Papas. In her book, and in later interviews, Mackenzie Phillips described ten years of abuse (her father introducing her to drugs at age 11) and sexual abuse by her father, including raping her during a blackout.
A therapist who viewed an interview with Mackenzie by Oprah stated “What struck me most about Mackenzie Phillips’ interview, is that she’s still protecting her father. By calling incest consensual incest, she’s still protecting the person who abused her. … But you can’t say it’s consensual, because there’s always a power imbalance when it comes to a parent and child.”
In the face of the revelation of a traumatic abuse, Grant and his guests first reaction upon bringing up the topic of Mackenzie Phillips’ book is to make a sexualized joke. They then to go on to joke about Mackenzie saying her father raped her on the night before her wedding as “the something old” for the wedding.
Their next reaction is an expression of concern, for John Phillips, because he “cannot defend himself” (John Phillips died in 2001). While Grant briefly states that this experience is “terrible and couldn’t be worse” he is speaking not from the perspective of the victim, but from the perspective of what people will now think when they hear the name John Phillips.
The group then discredits Mackenzie’s claim by referencing her drug-use.
Several times in the conversation they discuss the relative attractiveness of other women, including Michelle Phillips (John Phillip’s second wife) and Valerie Bertinelli (co-star on One Day at a Time).
We’ve seen this pattern frequently, it is almost a version of DARVO (Deny, Attack, Reverse Victim and Offender). Grant and his guests express disbelief about Mackenzie’s claim and then they switch the role of the abuser and victim. They attack Mackenzie’s credibility by referring to her drug use and implying that they find her claim unlikely because they do not find her physically attractive.
Grant and his guests express disbelief about Mackenzie’s claim and then they switch the role of the abuser and victim.
Grant Woods wants to be a Senator; but, how can any man or woman feel comfortable with his candidacy, knowing that the disregard for victims he has displayed in the video may have affected his approach to sexual abuse cases during his career? This is not a hypothetical question. The following statistics are from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
- One in five women will be raped in their lifetime
- One in three women and one in six men experience some type of sexual violence in their lifetime
- 51.1% of female victims and 52.4% of male victims report being raped by a intimate partner
- One in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18
- 34% of people who sexually abuse a child are family members of the child
- Only 12% of child sexual abuse is ever reported to authorities
By dismissing and diminishing Mackenzie’s claims, Woods and his guests are demonstrating the attitudes that sustain an environment that teaches victims not to report, not to tell, especially if the abuser is a family member. The long term trauma of childhood sexual abuse for victims is clear. Sexual abuse cases where people in trusted positions from clergy to coaches demonstrate the negative impact that this abuse has on survivors.
“when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Grant Woods mocked a victim of abuse for laughs by making sexualized jokes.
The famous quote from Maya Angelou says “when someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” Grant Woods mocked a victim of abuse for laughs by making sexualized jokes. He expressed concern only for perpetrators and implied that rape is about sexual attraction. This should disqualify him from our consideration for Senator. The fact that Grant never removed these videos–and that he ever posted them at all–indicates that he doesn’t realize what he did and said wrong in them. There is really no excuse for Grant’s behavior, especially during this time of increased awareness in our culture of the damage caused by sexual assaults and of the systemic disregard for victim’s rights through the years. This incident gives Arizona Democrats proof that Woods is not a tenable candidate.
If you need help or have questions you can visit RAINN or call 1-800-656-4673.
Grant Woods: What about Mackenzie Phillips now has a book out and she’s been she’s been, she’s been hosing her father most of her life…
Guest: I think he was hosing her…laughter
Guest: Did she have the apparatus?
Grant Woods: The word goes both ways, the hose doesn’t but the word does. She also announced that she had sex with him on the night before her wedding day, they did drugs and then…
Guest: You know a lot of fathers give away their daughter
Grant Woods: No no, her whole life. One last time before the wedding.
Grant Woods: Someone said that was the something old at the wedding…something blue something borrowed…
Guest: How will this effect the playing of the Mama’s and The Papa’s on the radio?
Grant Woods: It won’t, no one gives a shit
Guest: Todd Phillips was married to Michelle Phillips, who was super-fine
Grant Woods: And she says no that didn’t happen and
Guest: Mackenzie is making it up?
Grant Woods: Well I don’t know, you know I do have a problem with, and this is starting to happen more and more often, I have a problem with people not saying anything while someone is alive and then they are dead and all of a sudden
Guest: They can’t refute it
Grant Woods: They can’t refute it, they start telling all these tales about this people and really ruin their reputation, and you know, as she has done here. Now before when you heard this guys name you may have thought oh he is a hippy, he’s done this or that, so what, you didn’t think what she is saying which is terrible, it couldn’t be worse, and what if it isn’t true and she’s just trying to sell a book?
Guest: Well she’s always been pretty level headed and clear thinking
Grant Woods: Laughter
Guest: Laughter, yeah her and her sister Valerie Bertinelli
Grant Woods: Were they really sisters?
Guest: No, just on the show
Grant Woods: Who wrote the song One Day at a Time?
Guest: I don’t know
Grant Woods: Kris Kristofferson
Guest: No he did not
Guest: Get out of here!
Grant Woods: Sings “ one day at a time sweet jesus” yeah
Guest: But that wasn’t the theme to the show
Grant Woods: No, that was a hit song, number one country song, even being a big fan I didn’t know that
Grant Woods: I thought Schnyder wrote that
Guest: I thought it was Harrington
Guest: Pat Harrington, yeah he always opened for Sinatra
Guest: Yeah Harrington, he was good out there
Grant Woods: Show was horrible, not good, ok let’s talk about
Guest: Freddie Van Halen, then he married Valerie
Grant Woods: You’re acting like they are the same person, Phillips and Valerie
Guest: No there was a cute one and then
Grant Woods: One of them is Olive Oyl, I wouldn’t go for her, horribl