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How Do Women Enable Rape, Trafficking & Sexual Abuse?

by Nicole Chardenet 8 months ago in feminism
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Men may be the consumers and drivers, but women's silence, or turning away, is complicit

Public domain photo from Pxhere

It makes my blood boil to read of 'Jane's' testimony this week as Ghislaine Maxwell, accused groomer and sex trafficker for now-dead Jeffrey Epstein, stands trial.

Jane was 14 when she met Maxwell. She and her family were groomed for abuse by both. I don't know if Jane had a father in the house but she testified she didn't tell others about her abuse because her mother 'discouraged her from speaking her mind."

She and Mom met Epstein in Florida for tea in 1994 and he offered to 'mentor' Jane. Her mother allowed her to visit Epstein's home by herself after that.

WHAT THE HELL WAS SHE THINKING???

My mother would have been all over Epstein like a fly on you-know-what had he offered me such a proposal.

"My mom was so enamored with the idea that these wealthy, affluent people took an interest in me."

I wonder if Mom was thinking was, 'If she just keeps her trap shut she can nail herself a rich husband and be set for life!"

It might have helped that Jane's mentor paid for her voice lessons and school, and housing for her family. Mom was living in an Epstein-financed apartment when Jane cut off contact with him in 2002.

I don't know what Mom knew about the Lolita Island escapades but she didn't need it engraved on granite tablets. She should have known a guy like that taking an interest in her pretty blonde daughter was a chicken hawk.

Jane's mother was complicit in her child's horrific enslavement and abuse, as were many others. I focus on the mothers and women because there's enough discussion about patriarchy, privilege, and male entitlement to women's bodies, and how men are always 100% responsible for what they do with their dick. Agreed.

But we look away and make excuses when women help, aid, and abet sexual abuse of girls and women by doing nothing.

Then we ask plaintively, What will it take to make it stop?

It DOES have to stop. We're accountable too even if we're not the ones teaching the child how to 'massage' Jeffrey Epstein just the way he likes it.

She let him get away with it

Earlier this year, I read a woman's testimony on an Internet platform about how she aided and abetted a consumer of illegal porn.

That wasn't the focus of the article, of course. She centered on her initial 'Mr. Perfect's' abuse after she moved in with him. It was pretty bad. The nadir of the nightmarish relationship arrived when he tried to kill her by pushing her down a marble staircase. He drove her to the hospital and took her powerful prescription pain meds for himself after they patched up her broken arm, which she might have lost, when he drove her home.

She described the sick, violent, almost certainly illegal porn with dangerously young girls she knew he watched, some of it so vile it made her physically ill in the bathroom.

She never reported.

Was she afraid of retribution? Maybe initially, but she's not now. She posted under her real name, and gave what she claimed was his real name, hoping other women in the San Francisco area would avoid him.

She never reported his highly questionable porn use to the authorities. He stopped having sex with her after the first year because she wouldn't indulge his desire for degrading, humiliating sex (giving as well as receiving). Darwin only knows where he went when he went out. Did he seek the same sick sex he sought in his pornography? If so, how mutually consensual was any of it?

What unknown abuse did she not stop with her silence?

The Woman Who Abetted Child Trafficking - And no, her name wasn't Ghislaine Maxwell

I've witnessed women's silence or complicity in the sexual abuse of others for decades, and the temporally farther we get from those earliest naive, clueless first years of Second Wave Feminism, the less patience I have.

"Where the hell are the mothers?"

I was 15 when I heard my first incest testimony from a friend in 1978. It wasn't as much of a surprise as you might think; the previous summer I'd read a Reader's Digest article about how incest was far more common than people believed and I discussed it with my mother.

Ergo, I wasn't surprised when I heard other familial sexual abuse stories from girls, or heard them through others. 'Yes, Rachel said she was going to put an end to Sarah's abuse, that she'd dealt with it herself and she wasn't going to let it go on for her,' a friend, the school gossip who knew everything about everyone, told me.

I privately added two new names to the list of classmates in my head who were incest victims.

"Mom, I'm beginning to think I'm the only girl in town who's not having sex with her father," I said.

"Where the hell are the mothers?" Mom wondered.

We called the suicide hotline multiple times together, me asking advice on how to handle my often-suicidal friends and my mother on the other phone, assuring them I really was asking for a friend.

What angered me about that first testimony was I encouraged Pauline to tell her mother. She did. Her mother told her she was a liar. Neither did her minister believe her.

As the '70s turned into the '80s public tales of incest, rape and sexual abuse proliferated, including in the Catholic Church.

Contentious divorce proceedings in the media now came with an unpleasant twist: It became almost de rigueur for mothers to include alleged sexual abuse of the children along with other grievances in a divorce.

It had become more acceptable to talk about sexual abuse publicly, but sometimes I wondered why the allegations had become more common in divorces. It sounded more believable when wives cited it as the primary reason for filing, whereas I wondered if others were taking advantage of a trend to hit back harder at the soon-to-be-ex.

I read books about incest and abuse and learned that sometimes the mothers knew, or suspected, what was going on but didn't want to rock the boat, instigate a divorce, or in the worst cases, were kind of grateful they didn't have to have sex with their husband.

Many women had been rape or incest victims and never told anyone about it. How many of these mothers had endured either? Did they not empathize with or want to protect their own daughters?

WHAT THE HELL WERE THEY THINKING???

Denial of personal power

Not everyone is afraid of the perp. Not everyone fears he'll kill her if she reports him to the police. Women aren't as powerless as much as in fairly recent days of yore.

What she fears, perhaps, is public shame judgment she's bound to receive, not all of it perhaps fair, if she hadn't known about the abuse for long. Or what life will be like if she has to raise the children on her own, with no financial help from the jailbird.

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

It's a tough situation, but consider this: Sexual abuse ruins a child's life and future while the pain and shame of others learning the truth will one day subside, especially if you move elsewhere where no one knows you.

When will we have public conversations about how female silence and ignoring of sexual abuse and trafficking of women and children perpetuates the problem?

After all, aren't we instructed that Silence = Violence?

Men, however sympathetic, will never rally together to end it themselves because no one likes challenging their own tribe, no matter how worthy the cause.

My conversations with Pauline happened over forty years ago, when mothers truly didn't have the financial or political power and independence we have today.

So what's stopping us now?

How serious are any of us, really, when we prefer to limit the plan for ending sexual abuse and trafficking to going after men, when we're unwilling to acknowledge our own contribution?

We aid and abet the sexual abuse of the truly powerless by ignoring it, looking the other way, pretending we didn't know, or just wussing out about reporting the SOB to the proper authorities.

Maybe they'll do something and maybe they won't, and maybe he'll get punished and maybe he won't, but let there be a record of that complaint in case anyone else decides to file one. The trail starts with the first report.

Pretending this problem is only the fault of 'The Patriarchy' renders us disingenuous and unserious about ending sexual abuse. We are accomplices when we fail to report, when we let him get away with it.

We have the power to end sexual abuse once and for all. The question is, have we got the labia for it?

When I'm not challenging women to do more, risk more, be more, I--oh, well, actually that's pretty much what I do on my website Grow Some Labia.

feminism

About the author

Nicole Chardenet

"Grow Some Labia" is for women and others who are tired of self-infantilizing narratives that identify with victimhood rather than self-power. Big girls and boys don't blame 'The Patriarchy'. Twitter: @nchardenet. [email protected]

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