After reading the headlines of Jeffery Epstein’s untimely demise I’ve considered how to write about it. Do I focus on the unlikely victims of the patriarchy (the men themselves) or do I focus on how the purchasing and using girls and women as a commodity has become expected in our culture?
I’m going with the latter for now. Perhaps, I’ll get to the former later.
In the past week I’ve watched two movies that show the common objectification of women as an everyday occurrence. Yesterday I watched the Clint Eastwood film “The Mule”, in which Eastwood plays an elderly man named Earl that naïvely becomes a drug runner for the cartel after suffering a financial set back.
After making several thousands of dollars Earl buys himself a nice new truck, he buys back his home lost to foreclosure, then Earl, a father and grandfather to a daughter and granddaughter buys himself two prostitutes.
In a later scene, Earl is rewarded for his excellent work by the head boss of the cartel. He’s is invited to big boss’s huge estate where they celebrate with alcohol and barely dressed women dancing provocatively with the men including Earl. The camera is sure to catch Earl’s hands provocatively moving over the woman’s bare ass.
Eventually, the big boss whispers in the ear of one of the women to take Earl to his room and stay with him all night to make him happy. Moments later we cut to the room where Earl, still a father of and grandfather of a daughter and granddaughter, gleefully receives the gift of a beautiful woman willing to pleasure a 90 year old man sexually when a second woman enters the room to obviously double Earl’s pleasure.
In this mainstream movie, that I’m sure many people have watched, we see the purchase of women for sex by powerful, wealthy and ruthless men. We also see a normal, seemingly kind and gentle man with a sense of new power in the form of money, a father and grandfather purchase women as product to be used for sex. (I keep saying father and grandfather to a daughter and grand daughter purposefully).
As a viewer of the movie you will probably find yourself assuming that the women are prostitutes by choice and can come and go the party or Earl’s hotel room as they please. You may assume that it’s business transaction they want to partake in.
But in the real world, the world of Jeffery Epstein, girls and women are lured into and forced to be sex-slaves every single day. They have pimps that are controlling where they go, what they do, how much they eat and drink and how many times a day they are raped. They are beaten and abused in violent sex acts forced upon them by the wealthy powerful men who feel entitled to their bodies. They are physically and emotionally abused by the pimps who “own” them and often by the men who buy them.
Jeffery Epstein and the many powerful men that befriended him are proof of that.
It’s convenient to think that the women are there on their own accord. That they’ve for some reason chosen to make money this way. It’s convenient to believe that only ruthless criminals would treat women this way. It’s convenient to think all of these victims are “of age”
But the truth is deeply inconvenient. Even the “good” guys find power in buying women.
Seeing this objectification in the media so often has de-sensitized us so profoundly that we may not even draw the parallels between Epstien and a Hollywood movie. In fact most miss it completely.
Then we find ourselves disappointed when the men we respect and admire like Tiger Woods, Matt Lauer, and the many politicians you may have voted for start getting busted for their dehumanizing acts against girls and women. The truth is our patriarchal culture has trained men to expect that power and has us to look past it. .
I challenge you notice how many times you see in movies, music videos, commercials, television shows, and even video games men buying women, women being used as a reward for power. Then I challenge you to doubt why our next generation of boys become entitled and our girls become their victims.
We women must first see the parallels and bring them to the attention of our loved ones and friends. It’s up to us to protect our one another in a world that has turned a blind eye to the violence against our girls and our sisters.
Beautifully written Michelle. We can’t change things if we don’t recognize them all around us!
Thank you for bringing the light to us.