Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire pedophile who “trafficked” adolescent girls to his wealthy friends, is back in the news again. This time, because of his association to Alexander Acosta, Trump’s second nominee for labor secretary. Acosta, a former Miami U.S. attorney, let Epstein off with a weak sentence despite the FBI identifying more than 40 girls who alleged molestation against Epstein and the Palm Beach police department recommending Epstein be charged with four counts of unlawful sex with minors.
Alexander Acosta signed a deal in which he agreed not to pursue federal charges against Epstein. In exchange, Epstein agreed to plead guilty to one state charge for solicitation and spent a mere 13 months in jail. Those who defend Alexander Acosta, cite Epstein’s powerful lawyers and their ability to ruin Acosta’s career as reason for his signing the deal. I suppose it worked, seeing as Acosta is up for labor secretary. But, what about all of those sexually exploited girls?!
For those who don’t remember or who never saw the lackluster media coverage, Donald Trump is actually accused of raping an underage girl at an Epstein “party.” This allegation comes from a woman who filed suit against Trump in federal court. She almost went public with her account before the election, but after receiving violent threats, cancelled her appearance.
You don’t hear about this allegation, or Jeffrey Epstein and his association to Trump all that often. As with the other multiple accounts of Trump sexually violating women, these take second fiddle to foreign policy or “wiretapping” or email servers. This disregard for sexual violence, which is disproportionately perpetrated by men against women, is a blatant manifestation of cultural sexism. On its face, its seems that deemed a “women’s issue,” victims of sexual violence are ignored and discriminated against. And, while this is true, the sexism is more insidious than that.
The reason that more isn’t written about Jeffrey Epstein is because there are a lot more powerful men, alongside Trump, who participated in Epstein’s trafficking of young girls for sex. Epstein may have provided underage girls to Trump, but the same can be said for Bill Clinton and Kevin Spacey and Prince Andrew, and countless others, all of whom spent time on Epstein’s private plane referred to as the “Lolita express.” Either consciously or unconsciously, these men and their participation in the sexual exploitation of adolescent girls is minimized or simply not discussed in order to protect them and maintain their power and their stature.
That is why this latest news about Alexander Acosta and his rise to power at the expense of those he was hired to protect–the more than 40 women sexually violated by Jeffrey Epstein, is so disheartening and shameful. As long as men maintain the majority of power in elected office, the courts, media, business, etc., they will relegate sexual violence, and a whole host of other issues that jeopardize their power, to the side at the expense of women.
Saying that, “nobody has more respect for women,” when your actions have demonstrated anything but is more than a lie, it’s offensive and should be considered a rallying cry for all women. If this is the best you’ve got, we deserve so much better. Individually, women are strong, but when we rise together, we are powerful. And power is what we need. We must balance power across all institutions or men like Alexander Acosta and Donald Trump will continue to lead at the expense of women.