Introducing Mehmet Cengiz Öz, known professionally as Dr. Oz—a Turkish-American TV personality, author and retired cardiothoracic surgeon who often makes waves online for his problematic views on different human rights issues, such as abortion, gun policy and healthcare.
The host of the daytime television programme The Dr. Oz Show is also the Republican nominee for the 2022 US Senate election in Pennsylvania and the first Muslim candidate to be nominated by either major party for such a position. Yep, his political penchant explains quite a bit about the good doctor’s controversial stances.
In a newly-resurfaced radio interview with The Breakfast Club that was initially recorded back in February 2014, the candidate stated that incest was “not a big problem” as long as “you’re more than a first cousin away.” Yuck.
Dr. Oz followed this statement by explaining that girls don’t want to have sex with their fathers simply because of pheromones. “My daughters hate my smell,” the Republican nominee explained on the show.
As soon as the audio resurfaced, his Democratic opponent John Fetterman was quick to latch onto the comments, tweeting, “Yet another issue where Oz and I disagree.”
As twisted as the man’s opinion is, you might be wondering how the topic came into the conversation in the first place. Listening back to the recording, it appears that Dr. Oz aimed to advise a listener who had revealed they were in a sexual relationship with their cousin. Somehow, ‘no biggie’ was what he considered an appropriate answer.
When one of the radio show’s hosts asked him about third cousins, he confirmed those were “fine,” adding that “every family has genetic strengths and weaknesses.” Dr. Oz then took it upon himself to scientifically justify incest and explain why we tend to date outside of our family tree.
“The reason we naturally crave people who are not so like us is because you just mix the gene pool up a little bit so that if I had one gene for, let’s say, hemophilia, which is a classic example where you bleed a lot if you cut yourself, I don’t want to marry a cousin who has the same hemophilia gene, because the chance of our child having both those genes is much higher,” he stated, unconsciously suggesting that, were our survival instincts not so strong and developed, we’d all be pretty happy with dating our siblings.
Not only are Dr. Oz’s statements troubling, to say the least, they also diminish the real danger of incest—the fact that, in most cases, it’s nonconsensual and psychologically scarring. There’s a reason the act is also called intrafamilial sexual abuse. Most instances occur between older male relatives and younger female children in families of all demographics.
In the US, more specifically, incest seems to have been largely overlooked up until the 1980s. In 1975, one text asserted that the rate of father-daughter incest in the country was as low as one in a million families. Further research published by Psychiatric Times in 2011, however, revealed that it was much more common.
It’s safe to say that we don’t need ‘influential’ people like Dr. Oz adding fuel to the fire with dubious comments like this.