Jeffrey Epstein's Cuties 2

Only very recently have women had any effective rights to push back against Jeffrey Epsteins.

Our first Cuties article described widespread concern that the movie of that name celebrates the sexuality of 11-year-old girls who act in a manner suggesting that they are offering themselves as commodities available to the highest bidder.  Enough "prudes" canceled Netflix subscriptions in protest that a woke columnist called them "rubes who just don't understand great art" for complaining that young girls were being taught to be provocative and to violate societal norms.

Both the ethos portrayed in Cuties and Jeffrey Epstein's actions betray an underlying assumption that is entirely modern - one not found in history anywhere, and not found even today outside the modern First World. This is the concept that women have both the right and the ability to make their own sexual decisions - or, really, decisions of any sort.

According to the movie, the Cuties girls decided of their own free will to use their bodies to sexualize themselves in an attempt to gain attention and influence over men.  In keeping with standard practice in the oldest profession, Jeffrey Epstein appears to have contracted with somewhat older girls to provide services of a sexual nature for an agreed-upon financial compensation.  As far as we are aware, he always fulfilled his part of the bargain, paying them the agreed fee and returning them to their homes (otherwise) unharmed once their service was complete.

There have been reports that many of the girls sought advice about additional services they could provide in order to get paid more.  All of these girls exerted agency over their own bodies to serve their perceived interests at the time.  Feminists insist that women have an unlimited right to do precisely that.

Both Mr. Epstein's practices and the calculated sexualization of the Cuties girls are nothing more than what feminists have fought for over the past century or so.  Why, then, the moral panic?  Purely because of the age of the girls - yet, this too, is an entirely modern concern.

Men want women badly enough that controlling the supply of women leads to political and financial power, just as controlling a nation's supply of guns or gold confers power.  On top of that, protecting women so that they live long enough to bear and raise the next generation is essential to survival of family, tribe, or nation.  Groups that fail to keep women from engaging in dangerous activities or let them avoid childbirth die out and pass from history.  The future belongs to those who show up for it.

Regardless of the bloviating of postmodern feminists, the simple biological fact is that women do not have enough upper body strength to effectively hunt or farm without modern machinery.  Until the Industrial Revolution created jobs by which women could earn a living without depending on men, the only way a woman could avoid starvation was to persuade a man to feed her.  This gave men considerable power over women.

The notion of protecting girls and women who did not belong to a father or husband from unwanted "sexual assault" is a stunningly recent development in human history - almost within living memory.  The idea that women should have any power over their own lives would have been regarded as ridiculous as recently as the 1800s in much of the Western world, and is still good for a laugh across much of modern Africa, Asia, and of course in all Muslim parts of the world.

Stealing 'em, Fair and Square

One traditional mechanism for establishing a relationship with a woman was to steal her, or buy her from someone else who'd stolen her.  American Thinker published an article containing images of paintings based on the historical fact of women being stolen into sexual slavery on an industrial scale:

Objectively speaking, the "Slave Market" painting in question portrays a reality that has played out countless times over the centuries: African, Asiatic, and Middle Eastern Muslims have long targeted European women - so much so as to have enslaved millions of them over the centuries (see Sword and Scimitar for copious documentation).  [emphasis added]

Warning - the paintings in the article are quite explicit, and leave no doubt as to exactly what product is being offered for purchase.  They are most definitely NSFW.

Muslims weren't the only group to regard women as booty and to seek access via conquest involving significant risk of violence.  The paper "High level of male-biased Scandinavian admixture in Greenlandic Inuit shown by Y-chromosome analysis" reports that many descendants of the original Inuit inhabitants of Greenland have DNA that was contributed by males from Scandinavia.  Other papers show that non-Inuit Greenland women came from other parts of Europe.

Why?  Viking men who left for Greenland weren't powerful enough to claim land in Scandinavia.  Scandinavian women gravitated to powerful men who could support them well, so lower-status men were left out.  NIH explains the result:

Genetic studies have shown that many modern Greenlanders have a substantial amount of European ancestry, inherited mainly from male Europeans[emphasis added]

Womanless men whose raids in Europe and England didn't recruit enough women to accompany them to Greenland ended up with Inuit women, after a perfectly peaceful course of dating and full agreement from the brides, of course.

Vikings weren't alone in adopting violence-based courtship.  "A history of the best man" tells us that the term "best man," which now describes a person who handles logistics and organizational details for a groom, had a rather different origin:

The tradition of a "best man" probably has its origin with the Germanic Goths, when it was customary and preferable for a man to marry a woman from within his own community. When women came into short supply "locally," eligible bachelors would have to seek out and capture a bride from a neighboring community. ... the future bridegroom would be accompanied by a male companion who would help. Our custom of the best man is a throwback to that two-man, strong-armed tactic, for, of course the future groom would select only the best man he knew to come along for such an important task.

The role of the best man evolved. By 200 AD his task was still more than just safeguarding the ring. There remained a real threat that the bride's family would attempt to obtain her return forcibly, so the best man remained at the groom's side throughout the marriage ceremony, alert and well-armed. He continued his duties after the ceremony by standing guard as sentry outside the newlywed's home. ...  We have records that indicate that beneath the altars of many churches of early peoples (the Huns, Goths, Visigoths, and Vandals) there lay an arsenal of clubs, knives, and spears. The indication is that these were there to protect the groom from possible attack by the bride's family in an attempt to recapture her.  [emphasis added]

Why would the bride's family exert violent effort to retrieve her from a man who was obviously smitten enough to risk life and limb to win her?  After all, everyone knew that marriage often brings trouble and stress.  Any sensible woman knows that the time will come when she's got the flu, she's pregnant out to here, the other kids are leaking at both ends, the house is hip-deep in diapers, and she's too sick to do anything about it.  If he's really smitten with her, he'll stick around and help her through it instead of running off.

So why would the groom have to be prepared for the fight of his life?

Many societies expected the groom to pay a "bride price" to her family to compensate them for the cost and trouble of raising her to be "husband-high."  After all, a son was supposed to care for his parents in old age; a daughter would care for her in-laws, not her own parents.  A daughter who was desirable enough to be worth the risk of stealing her would demand an above-average bride price, hence the need for swordplay to retain the prize against her family's efforts to regain control of her future.

"Lightly Lien"

In cases involving a "best man," grooms intended to keep the women, but this was not always the case.  The Book of Genesis tells us that when Isaac traveled to Gerar, he told his wife Rebekah to tell everyone she was his sister "lest, said he, the men of the place should kill me for Rebekah; because she was fair to look upon (Genesis 26:7)."

It turns out that he underestimated local morality.  When Abimelech, the local ruler, saw that "Isaac was sporting with Rebekah his wife," he objected, "One of the people might lightly have lien with thy wife, and thou shouldest have brought guiltiness upon us (Genesis 26:10)."  [emphasis added]

Abimelech's people believed they would have been guilty in raping Rebekah because she was married - that would have violated Isaac's property rights in his wife.  It's clear, however, that Rebekah had no right of her own to any sort of bodily integrity.  It would have been OK for "one of the people" to have "lightly lien" with her if she didn't already belong to a man who was wealthy enough or powerful enough to avenge any violation of his rights in her - any unclaimed woman would have been fair game.

The Biblical phrase "lightly lien" sums up "The Sexual Assault Case That Shook Ancient Rome" which describes the corruption trial of Gnaeus Plancius, one of the most powerful men in Rome in 54BC.

It was more than 2,000 years before the #MeToo movement, but a scene similar to the ones we've witnessed so often lately was already playing out. A prominent politician was on trial for corruption and bribery, charges bolstered by dirt his enemies had dug up from his past: the violent sexual assault of a young girl.

Those charges of corruption and bribery were a serious matter, but to the men in the court, the rape charge was nothing. It was harmless boys-will-be-boys misbehavior - something half the men there were guilty of themselves.

His lawyer, Cicero, didn't even bother to deny it. He just threw up his arms in a mock flourish and, to the gleeful delight of the men who surrounded him, declared: "O how elegantly must his youth have been passed! The only thing which is imputed to him is one that there was not much harm in."

Note the phrase "not much harm in."  The fact that he'd raped an unwilling girl of 12 or 13, close to the age of Netflix's Cuties, didn't matter!  Women had no rights and age was equally irrelevant.  Even though the accusation was true and undisputed, bringing it up at all was just crass mudslinging, a cheap attack on a worthy man's character.

She was unwilling?  Who cares!

She was a child?  Who cares!  Boys will be boys, after all.

The article ends, "She didn't get justice, but she lived to have her story told, and history remembers that she said no."  One wonders how much solace that provided.

We may look back in horror upon this tale from our barbaric past, but it isn't very far past.  Cracked regales us with tales that before the 1857 Matrimonial Causes Act allowed divorce in England, it could cost the modern equivalent of $15,000 to end a marriage.  Working-class couples who couldn't afford it would gather at advertised locations where an unwanted wife could be auctioned off to the highest bidder.

It wasn't exactly legal, but law enforcement didn't care, and back then, a wife was just property, just like a goat or a plot of land. At least 108 documented occurrences occurred between 1837 and 1901, usually with the woman's full cooperation. Even though she was often led around by an actual rope around her neck and her sale was overseen by a real auctioneer and everything, these were nothing like the slave auctions they might have looked like ...

The "item" was probably just as eager to get away from her "owner" as he was to be rid of her, and she could usually turn down an offer if it came from someone particularly toothless.

Well into the 20th century, wife-dumping and child rape were barely worthy of notice even in the most modern countries.  This historical reality was depicted in the Brooke Shields film Pretty Baby, a story of underage prostitution in New Orleans before the First World War when it was an entirely legal and common practice.  The movie was set at a time a few months before prostitution was outlawed.

Art can't get too far out in front of life or it won't sell; the film aroused criticism because of nude scenes involving the 12-year-old Ms. Shields, which resulted in the film being banned in the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan until 1995.  It rated R in the United States, X in the United Kingdom and R18+ in Australia.  In spite of these ratings, or perhaps because of them, it earned $5.8 million in 1978.

Ms. Shields went on to become a successful actress of stage and screen, and, at least according to herself, retained her virginity until age 22 despite appearing in several notoriously adult-oriented films in her youth.  Her life story might seem to justify the self-empowerment perspective of Cuties, were her achieving success by acting in a movie about the oldest profession as opposed to participating in it not so rare over the past half-century or so.

How It Was

In 1968, the Phillip Morris Company launched the ultra-smooth Virginia Slims cigarette brand which specifically targeted women who now had enough disposable income to be worth addressing as a distinct market.  Their theme song was "You've come a long way, baby" which became one of the most famous advertising campaigns in American history.

Even as far back as prehistoric 1968, women had indeed come a long, long way in terms of realistically expecting to make their own life-shaping decisions.  The paper "When a Woman's Marital Status Determined Her Legal Status: A Research Guide on the Common Law Doctrine of Coverture" explains women's historic legal status which was known as "Coverture."

This doctrine held that a wife had no legal standing whatsoever: her being was completely incorporated into that of her husband.  The doctrine was imported from England into Colonial America and has not entirely disappeared from American law.

By marriage, the husband and wife are one person in law: that is, the very being or legal existence of the woman is suspended during the marriage, or at least is incorporated and consolidated into that of the husband; under whose wing, protection, and cover, she performs every thing; and is therefore called in our law-french a feme-covert. ... under the protection and influence of her husband, her baron, or lord; and her condition during her marriage is called her coverture. ...

For this reason, a man cannot grant anything to his wife, or enter into covenant with her: for the grant would be to suppose her separate existence; and to covenant with her, would only to be to covenant with himself. ...

Under coverture, a wife simply had no legal existence. She became, in the words of the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments, "civilly dead."  [emphasis added]

As they used to say in New England, "Husband and wife are one, and husband's the one."  This situation gradually changed because of increased societal wealth brought about by entrepreneurship during the industrial revolution.

The stable transition of wealth became a highly desirable social value. Married Women's Property Acts were passed in every jurisdiction to further this aim, especially to allow extremely wealthy families to transfer their property through their married daughters, without giving control of the family assets to their daughters' husbands. Once married women were viewed as legal persons who could own, sell, and bequeath property, they slowly began to effect the changes in the law that recognized they were legal persons in other areas of the law, persons who could sue their husbands for divorce or for personal injury, gain custody of their children, and enter professions such as law.

The problem of a daughter's husband owning any family wealth that fell to her is ancient.  Numbers 36:1-13 tells us that Zelophehad had no sons.  His relatives were concerned that his property would be taken out of their family when his seven daughters married.  Instead of solving the problem by expanding women's rights as was done with Property Acts in 1839 and 1895, the solution was to restrict the women's choice of husband to the sons of one of their father's brothers - that is, their first cousins.

Marrying an uncle's sons, of course, keeps the money in the family.  We suspect that there simply wasn't enough wealth in Moses' time to support the more radical solution of letting women own property.  As late as the era of Downton Abbey, this was still a very real problem: since the Earl failed to produce a male heir, his daughter had to be shoved in the direction of their heir-apparent cousin.

Such changes brought about by wealth remind us why our Founders were so careful to forbid anyone to be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due precess of law.  Under coverture, a married woman might not be locked up, but without being permitted to own property, she was utterly dependent on the good will of whichever man had legal control of the property which supported her.

Feminists who take independence for granted seem to have forgotten that the economic fruits of the Industrial Revolution, which produced enough wealth that the patriarchy was willing to share ownership with women, was based on capitalism.  As Adam Smith predicted, the greed of individual entrepreneurs produced the wealth that made it possible for women, who weren't strong enough to engage in muscle-powered farming, to find jobs in textile mills, garment factories, and modern air-conditioned office buildings.

Nobody has any real independence without income; all rights depend on control of money or other property.  Working gives women income streams which undergird their ability to make their own decisions.  Some women receive welfare payments in their own names which preserves a degree of independence from their boyfriends.

The western world has been so wealthy for so long that people take property ownership, which enables their right to make independent decisions, for granted.  This state of being, however, is the furthest from a natural condition as can possibly be imagined, and could not have been imagined even as recently as our Founders' era.

Women's rights to vote, own property, work, and many others were voluntarily granted by the patriarchy once society was wealthy enough that men could afford to share.

The bottom line is simple - in a muscle-powered society, women are so much weaker than men that they will inevitably be dominated by men.  It is only as technology improves to the point that human muscle is no longer required for survival that women can effectively claim, be granted, or take advantage of any degree of real independence.

Beneath the Burkah

Muslim nations, for a long list of socio-cultural reasons, can't generate enough wealth through business or industrial activity to give women independence.  Wealth gained from pumping oil is another matter, with quite different social and economic effects.

A few feminists have criticized the all-concealing Muslim burkah for making it hard for women to see where they're going, but that isn't the reason it's imposed.  The Canvas Prison explains that concealment makes it impossible for a potential attacker to assess the overall number of women or their individual desirability.

When a would-be groom considered stealing a wife, he'd assess the risk / reward tradeoff and pursue a woman whom he found desirable enough to justify the risk.  If he couldn't find out anything about the age or appearance of any of the woman in a household, an attack would seem a lot less worthwhile.  Would you risk your life to grab a random burkah-clad woman off the street?  Of course not.

From the point of view of men who sought to steal women for fun and profit or of men who sought to keep them from being stolen, women in Muslim nations are regarded as chattel property to be bought and sold via the bride price with no independent agency with respect to whom they'd marry or sleep with.  That's the case even in Western nations with large Muslim populations: the phase "honor killing" refers to the murder of a relative, usually a woman, who has brought shame on the family name.

Murder is at least nominally illegal in just about every country in the world, but in 2000, the United Nations estimated that 5,000 women are victims of honor killings each year.  Although accurate figures are hard to find, the most common reason for killing seems to be that a daughter is attracted to a non-Muslim.  That is another facet of the view that a woman's social life and sexuality are totally under the control of men.  Talk about an abusive patriarchy!

Yet, as our betters constantly remind us, the burkah is a cultural artifact that long predates America itself.  Its existence stands as a reminder that women's rights as a concept have existed for only a vanishingly short period of historical time, and only in strictly limited geographical areas.

The fact that we find it so foreign, and the concept of women as chattel so alien and self-evidently wrong, simply goes to show how limited and ignorant our perspectives are.  Judged before the tribunal of human history, our modern perspective is bizarre, extreme, and held by a tiny minority.  After all, the 19th Amendment which granted American women the right to vote, wasn't passed until 1920 and many other rights didn't follow until after that.

How, then, did such a historically unique perspective on half the species - simply put, that women are by natural right of equal value as the male half of the species, with all the rights and privileges pertaining thereto - come into existence contrary to all cultural history and tradition of every civilization known to man prior to 100 or so years ago?  We'll look at that in the next article in our series.

Will Offensicht is a staff writer for and an internationally published author by a different name.  Read other articles by Will Offensicht or other articles on Society.
Reader Comments

There's "perspective", and then there's THIS piece!
If this doesn't give one pause, you've lost the button....

October 5, 2020 3:14 PM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...