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July 11, 2019 05:49 pm PDT

Rebecca Solnit on Jeffrey Epstein: "In patriarchy, no one can hear you scream"

In a characteristically brilliant essay, historian, activist and writer Rebecca Solnit connects the dots between the sexual abuses of Jeffrey Epstein, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, Brett Kavanaugh, Harvey Weinstein, and the unnamed 16-year-old boy whose admitted rape was excused because the judge said that This young man comes from a good family who put him into an excellent school where he was doing extremely well: in each case, there was an elaborate scheme to silence and discredit the survivors of sexual violence, abetted by networks of (mostly) men who treat the disclosure of sexual assaults as a worse offense than committing the assaults themselves.

Patriarchy is thus, first and foremost, a denial of the rule of the law, which relies on no man being above the law (contemplate that one of Epstein's survivors did a longer prison stint for drug dealing that Epstein did for raping her as a child). Even when powerful men settle the rape claims against them, the settlements are invariably shrouded in nondisclosure agreements: worse to speak of the thing than to do the thing.

Patriarchy is part of a culture of impunity: where power means the power to get away with stuff, and where the more power you have, the more you get away with, and where the people who have more than the rest of us combined can get away with anything.

Monsters rule over us, on behalf of monsters. Now, when I think about what happened with Strauss-Kahn, who was subsequently accused of sexual assault by several other women, and with cases like his, its the secondary characters who seem to matter most.

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