Jeffrey Epstein's Cuties 3

Winning women's rights took longer than defeating slavery.

Throughout this series, we've been examining the truly remarkable fact about the furore over Netflix' infamous Cuties movie.  Not that it sexualizes women - that has been standard operating procedure since well before the dawn of recorded history, and there have always been many of both sexes who see no harm in it.

What's remarkable and unique in history is that today there is any sort of notion that blatant sexualization of young girls was wrong at all whether the girls want to be sexualized or not.

We've looked at the mountain of  evidence that as far back as Biblical times and extending into Roman culture near the time of Christ, the concept of "rape" hardly existed.  In one particularly famous Roman case, there was "not much harm" because, after all, as a 12-year-old actress, she'd asked for it.

There was no such thing as a crime of assault against the woman; if crime there be, it was a property crime against her husband or whichever man owned her.  If there was no such man or he could be persuaded not to care, there was no crime at all.

We also discussed the custom of auctioning off unwanted wives,which persisted in England as late as 1901.  The British legal term "coverture" defined a married woman as having no legal existence whatsoever - her identity was entirely subsumed into her husband's identity.  This idea survives to this day in the modern prohibition against spouses being forced to testify against each other - the underlying legal logic was identical to the Fifth Amendment prohibition against self-incrimination.  Since a married woman had no legal existence, her situation was functionally equivalent to slavery.

When Is A Slave?

The United States State Department has a web site defining modern slavery, which isn't all that different from classical slavery.  The site lists different types: Sex Trafficking of adults or children, Forced Labor through debt or kidnapping, Domestic Servitude, and Recruitment of Child Soldiers.

In all cases, a slave has essentially no choice in what they must do to avoid severe punishment and possibly torture.  Pro-choice feminists assert that because a woman has the natural right to sell sexual services, prostitution should be legal everywhere regardless of age; Jeffrey Epstein would agree.  As with the MeToo movement, the question remains, where does free choice end and coercion begin?

Freedom is maximized for persons such as Bill Gates, George Soros, or Warren Buffet who possess sufficient wealth to do essentially whatever they want at any time.  It effectively doesn't exist for African peasant farmers who live on less than $1 per day and labor 12 or 16 hours per day seeking barely enough to eat.

Modern freedom of choice has little to do with the ownership status commonly associated with slavery.  We use "wage slavery" to describe situations in which a person's livelihood is totally and immediately dependent on wages or a salary.  Although "wage slaves" are not legally owned by employers, the situation may be such that they have almost as little practical choice of what to do during the work day as if they were owned.

How it Was, Even Here

With a few exceptions such as Queen Elizabeth I who had life and death power over her male subjects, the lot of most women throughout human history has been legally, and largely functionally, identical to slavery.  The book "White Cargo, The Forgotten History of Britain's White Slaves in America" reminds us that vulnerable people have always been enslaved regardless of race, creed, color, national origin, or gender:

In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, more than 300,000 white people were shipped to America as slaves. Urchins were swept up from London's streets to labor in the tobacco fields, where life expectancy was no more than two years. Brothels were raided to provide "breeders" for Virginia. Hopeful migrants were duped into signing as indentured servants, unaware they would become personal property who could be bought, sold, and even gambled away. Transported convicts were paraded for sale like livestock.

Drawing on letters crying for help, diaries, and court and government archives, Don Jordan and Michael Walsh demonstrate that the brutalities usually associated with black slavery alone were perpetrated on whites throughout British rule. The trade ended with American independence, but the British still tried to sell convicts in their former colonies, ...

The explicit white slave trade may have ended with independence, but we have white friends whose grandparents came to America as indentured servants and worked 5-10 years to pay off their passage from Ireland.

Female servitude continues to this day.  The modern term "au pair" describes an unmarried, childless person who travels to a foreign country to live with a host family and provide childcare and light housework - and, by stereotype, other more personal services for the master.  Since many wealthy families desire such services, there are an abundance of web sites offering to facilitate such transactions, some better regulated and more wholesome than others.

The French term means "at par" or "equal to," indicating that the relationship should be one of equals: the au pair is intended to become a temporary member of the family rather than a traditional domestic worker.  The news that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger was the father of the family's long-term housekeeper's child suggests that relationships between employer and employee weren't always quite what they seemed.

This is pretty much the way it has always been.  Married women under "coverture" were little different from "wage slaves" in that they had very little choice in their daily activities.  Unmarried women were under the same bondage to the will of their fathers.  In principle, this was very little different from chattel slavery, in the sense that Person A had no effective ability to make their own life decisions, and had to depend on Person B to command them.

Why, then, did women want to marry, if it meant their becoming merged into their husbands legal existence and becoming "civilly dead" by having no legal existence of their own?  Because they weren't strong enough to hunt or farm; the only way a woman could eat was by persuading a man to feed her.  Entering into a long-term marriage contract increased the probability that she'd avoid starvation, particularly since society tended to look down on men who didn't meet their obligations to their families.

Men were willing to marry because being able to grow crops didn't yield anything good to eat without an unpaid woman doing the work of managing the kitchen garden for vegetables, keeping the house, and grinding grain into flour for bread.  Since grown children were the only viable form of old-age pension, men who thought about the future at all wanted sons to care for them when they could no longer farm.  Need for sons to help them farm and to care for them in old age made men even more willing to enter into long-term marriages.

As we all instinctively know, the relationship of marriage should be fundamentally different from that of master and slave.  No doubt there have been husbands who treated their wives as cruelly as any master treated a slave; and, indeed, there have been masters who treated slaves with as much affection and devotion as a husband to a wife; but neither were anything like the norm.

In both cases, reality could be pretty grim, but in most cases, the reality of being a wife was not so bad, preferable to the alternative, even appealing and desirable - quite different from actually being a slave.  Eventually, though, an increasing number of women came to a realization that the daily reality of their lives was not adequately reflected in the law, and never had been.

The main driver of giving women legal existence, which led over time to their being given many other rights, was increased societal wealth.  Wealthy fathers wanted their daughters to be able to inherit and control parts of the family fortune without the money automatically becoming their husband's property.  For this to work, women had to have the right to own and bequeath property in their own right.  Once women could do that, other rights followed as economic conditions permitted.

It's the Economy, Stupid!

Today, the worldwide economic contraction brought about by the covid lockdown is taking away many girls' opportunities for education which would increase their future earnings and offer them independence.  The BBC reports:

Save the Children said Covid-19 had put 2.5 million more girls at risk of early marriage by 2025.

The pandemic is increasing poverty, forcing girls out of school and into work or marriage, the charity said. ...

"The pandemic means more families are being pushed into poverty, forcing many girls to work to support their families and to drop out of school - with far less of a chance than boys of ever returning," Bill Chambers, the president and CEO of the charity, said.  [emphasis added]

Nobody can have any real independence without owning property.  The increased wealth brought about by the Industrial Revolution made independence for women possible, and gave essentially everyone in a wealthy society a great deal more freedom than anyone had enjoyed in previous centuries.  The covid-induced economic contraction is reversing that trend in marginal places, but it illustrates the relationship between societal wealth and freedom for women.

As alien as it may seem to our modern culture, but as we keep repeating, any sort of independent rights for women is a unique modern cultural artifact, never seen in history prior to just beyond living memory.  Being so new, it's far from solid, as we see that one of the effects of the covid shocks to economic and educational systems is to erode those recently-gained rights in poorer places.

The real question isn't why these rights are violated or lost; it's how did they come to exist in the first place, contrary to all of human history and cultures prior to the postmodern?  Presumably there were countless women in the past every bit as annoyed with the impositions of their husbands as any modern-day feminist; why did it take so many thousands of years of feminine grousing to get anywhere?

We have documentary evidence of one such complaining woman 1300 years ago, no less a luminary than Mohammed's wife Aisha, whom he married when she was just about the Cuties' age of 12.  In Sahih Bukhari 72, we read:

Rifa'a divorced his wife whereupon 'AbdurRahman bin Az-Zubair Al-Qurazi married her. 'Aisha said that the lady (came), wearing a green veil (and complained to her (Aisha) of her husband and showed her a green spot on her skin caused by beating). It was the habit of ladies to support each other, so when Allah's Apostle [Mohammed] came, 'Aisha said, "I have not seen any woman suffering as much as the believing women. Look! Her skin is greener than her clothes!"

Mohammed told the abused wife to return to her abuser and do a better job of meeting his sexual needs, and that was that.  We hear no more of Aisha's protofeminism, no doubt as a result of Mohammed's other inspired instruction regarding the treatment of wives, recorded as an holy obligation upon all practicing Muslims to this day:

Men are the maintainers of women because Allah has made some of them to excel others and because they spend out of their property; the good women are therefore obedient, guarding the unseen as Allah has guarded; and (as to) those on whose part you fear desertion, admonish them, and leave them alone in the sleeping-places and beat them.

Let's explore the very recent events that unfolded toward the present degree to which women have been liberated from the patriarchal burdens of the past, and project current trends to see where this new model of interaction between the sexes will lead.

The Struggle

The United States Park Service maintains buildings which are related to the struggle for women's rights.  Their web site has a chronology which began in 1648 and goes on for many pages:

[1648] January 21: As an unmarried woman with property, and serving as the lawyer for Lord Baltimore, Margaret Brent demands but is denied a vote in Maryland's colonial assembly.

This was 90 years before the founding of the city of Baltimore, which was named after the son of the Lord Baltimore who employed Ms. Brent as his personal attorney - as indeed did other Governors of the Colony of Maryland.  Obviously, His Lordship and her other clients must have had great trust in her legal acumen; if they were primarily interested in other appealing virtues she may have possessed, they no doubt could have found a less exalted position for her in their entourage.

Yet, despite noble and official endorsement of Ms. Brent's knowledge, education, intelligence, and personal merits, any ability for her to exercise the simple act of casting a ballot was out of the question.

The New York Times claims that American slavery began in 1619 with the arrival of the first enslaved Africans, 29 years before Ms. Brent was denied the right to vote:

The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery.

The Times claims that the Revolutionary War was fought so that the colonies would be able to continue enslaving Africans after the British passed laws against slavery, but as we saw above, the Revolution made it harder for the British to import explicit slaves into the US.

They're also wrong about when slavery started in the New World: women had been essentially enslaved since the dawn of human history and still are in most parts of the world.  American slavery in terms of the coercion of women began when the first men and women wandered over from Siberia which Smithsonian Magazine places "more than 15,000 years ago and perhaps far earlier."

If we date American slavery from the time Western women arrived, the Smithsonian puts that in St. Augustine, Florida, founded by the Spanish in 1565, 54 years before the Times dates it.  The Smithsonian states, "The Roanoke colony was established in 1585, Jamestown in 1607. The Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620," one year after the Times says American slavery started.

Even restricted to black slavery in the sense that the Times means it, they are still wrong: there is abundant documentary evidence of enslaved Africans in Spanish Florida more than a century before any arrived in the British colonies.  Not only that, American Indians a.k.a. Native-Americans acquired black slaves.  In fact, the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, and Seminole Indians took a number of black slaves with them as they were forcibly relocated to Oklahoma "Indian" Territory.

The British fight against chattel slavery began when the first slave trade petition was presented to the British Parliament in 1783, just after the Revolution's successful end.  After a decade of wrangling, William Wilberforce got a bill calling for abolition passed in 1792.

The trade continued, however, as British ships flew American flags to avoid the British anti-slavery law.  A bill barring British citizens from involvement in slavery passed on 23 May 1806, a whole generation after the Revolution which the Times says was fought to protect slavery..

Over time, the British navy was instructed to stop any and all slave ships regardless of flag, but as we saw earlier, it was still OK to transport indentured servants, urchins swept off the streets, and other ne'er-do-wells. The American Civil War ended slavery as a matter of American law on April 9, 1865, but civil rights struggles to overcome laws and customs which disadvantaged black people persisted into the 1970s, and indentured servitude continues with the recruitment of au pair housekeepers.

Gaining women's freedom not only to own property and vote but to expect some sort of physical autonomy took considerably longer than abolishing chattel slavery.  Rape was supposed to have been taken seriously in the past; Deuteronomy 22:23-27 defines it as a capital offense to be punished by stoning.  As we've seen, however, the ruling elite's attitude was always "Boys will be boys."

The women's struggle in America started with Ms. Brent's  1648 demand to be allowed to vote.  Although the term "MeToo" was coined in 2006, the women's struggle for that level of autonomy didn't really get traction until the MeToo movement's attacks on Harvey Weinstein in 2017 turned public opinion strongly against men who invaded a woman's personal space without consent, and even then, issues remain.

On that basis, women's emancipation took 370 years.  The battle against chattel slavery took only 190 years.

Feminists and other groups lie about the past in order to gain political power in the present.  In the next article in this series, we'll explore some of the lies about slavery that are being passed off for political advantage.  In doing so, we'll shine the light of history on the truth of how and why women were given their current degree of independence.

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

This article goes a bit further than you did in explaining the economic and technological factors that liberated women:

3 Post-War Innovations That Liberated Women
Capitalism has allowed women to avoid many obstacles to prosperity and created far more equality than there's ever been.

And yet, following World War II, three events surrounding innovation and the freedom of the market economy did more for women's liberation than any queen or any feminist movement has ever done.

1. The Introduction of the Washing Machine

2. The Creation of the Pill

3. The Rise of the Service Economy

An interesting amplification of what you said.

April 4, 2021 12:04 AM
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