The Rise and Downfall of Jeffrey Epstein Is About a Lot More Than Just Epstein

In the world of powerful men, getting to rape young girls is a perk, not a crime

A lot of words have already been written here at Skepchick about Jeffrey Epstein being arrested on charges of sex crimes. Amy wrote about how she wants every man connected to Epstein that took part in his sex trafficking to be taken down alongside him, regardless of their political leanings. Rebecca wrote about the scientists who have publicly supported Epstein or at the very least continued to accept money, gifts, and vacations from him after his first conviction for raping a minor. What both of their posts have in common is the linking of Epstein to other powerful figures who continued to hang out with him after his conviction or were friends with Epstein prior to his conviction and were close enough to him that it’s likely they knew what was really going on and possibly even participated in the rape of young girls.

As these powerful figures deny or downplay their connections to Epstein, it’s important to remember that in the end, the story of Epstein isn’t really about Epstein at all. It’s about a world of the rich and famous where having underage girls supplied to you at secretive parties is a part of the culture. It’s not seen as seedy or illegal or ethically wrong, but is so normalized that it’s expected. Getting to rape young girls is a perk, not a crime.

Epstein may have been involved in very serious crimes, but he committed those crimes openly, at least among his friends. This isn’t the story about one man but an entire system that protected him because they benefited from that same system, whether by being supplied with young girls by Epstein, or allowed to ride on his private plane to his private island, or being given money to support their research.

I’m sure many of Epstein’s friends had ways to justify it to themselves. I mean, I would love a chance to fly on a private plane. So, some girls got raped? It’s in the past! Me riding on a private plane today doesn’t un-rape those girls. Oh no, Epstein brought some very young looking girls to this great party he invited me to! That seems bad, but I haven’t exactly seen their driver’s licenses (assuming they are even old enough to have one, of course). They could just be young looking 18 year olds who are definitely here of their own volition. If I don’t ask too many questions, I’m sure it’s fine if I stay at the party and maybe even partake in one of these girls myself. I mean, I am a rich, powerful person and I deserve this and I trust that I will never be held accountable because I never have before. So, what is the harm if I have a little fun?

Author Summer Brennan, in a twitter feed that has since been deleted but has been transcribed at the New York Magazine, wrote

It needs to be understood that this is about much more than the actions of individual men, but a *system* of powerful men using underage girls as luxury goods to offer, trade, etc. There is a world in which this is the norm. A class of (mostly) uber-powerful men who think the rules do not apply to them. One of them is in the White House.

The comparison of underage girls to luxury goods in an apt one. The world of the rich and powerful is one where sex with underage girls is a luxury item akin to access to a fine wine or a ride on a private jet. It can be bought and traded and given or received as a gift. It’s an entitlement. As we all know by now, the President of the United States of America once said “Grab them by the pussy,” but that’s not actually the full quote. The full quote is “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.” Because it turns out, if you are a powerful man, you can do anything. You can get away with anything. Epstein might go to jail, but what will happen to all these men who protected him and benefited from the system that Epstein set up? Time will tell, but with history as a guide, we’d be lucky if they come out of this with even small blemish on their reputation.

Jamie Bernstein

Jamie Bernstein is a data, stats, policy and economics nerd who sometimes pretends she is a photographer. She is @uajamie on Twitter and Instagram. If you like my work here at Skepchick & Mad Art Lab, consider sending me a little sumthin' in my TipJar: @uajamie

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