- 23 Jan 20
The Jeffrey Epstein saga again demonstrates the shameless sense of entitlement felt by all-too-many public figures.
According to Alan Dershowitz, Jeffrey Epstein’s former lawyer, lying to the media may be a sin, but it’s not illegal. Both Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have demonstrated just how effective lying, however brazen, can be with voters and how shame has simply disappeared from the psyche of many public figures. Dershowitz became famous defending paragons of virtue such as Claus Von Bülow, O.J. Simpson and Mike Tyson, and he secured a very favourable deal for Jeffrey Epstein.
What is it about wealthy, successful men and their libido? JFK famously needed sex every day or he got a migraine. Bill (“I never had sexual relations with that woman”) Clinton fell victim to a press less willing to conceal “indiscretions”. Jeffrey Epstein apparently needed ‘massages’ three times a day, preferably from young teenage girls. Is it their sexual charisma which brings them success in their field, or does their success make them so desirable that women apparently just can’t help themselves?
The reality seems more prosaic. Yes, success is intoxicating, but power and wealth also prove potent aphrodisiacs. In Epstein’s case, it appears he targeted very young vulnerable girls, and was clever enough to use a woman as an intermediary, just as Harvey Weinstein disarmed young actresses by having female assistants show them up to his hotel bedroom.
Weinstein and Epstein were canny enough to camouflage their deeds with famous friends, philanthropic activities and resourceful lawyers. It appears also that Epstein videotaped many of his famous friends, including politicians and royalty, in compromising sexual situations, which may explain the leverage he exerted in evading punishment for so long. This raises worrying questions with regard to his apparent suicide in jail, as well as providing hope to tabloid editors of even more titillating revelations in the future.
The Me Too movement has instigated a welcome and overdue paradigm shift in attitudes to behaviour which was long tolerated or endured. Film producers and fashion photographers had a “droit de seigneur” with regard to the girls whose careers they promoted. Thankfully, such cavalier attitudes now seem outrageous, and Prince Andrew’s “honourable” continued friendship with Epstein, and disregard for his victims, illustrate the shameless sense of privilege and entitlement that has been a hallmark of many of these cases.
Weinstein and Epstein were able to silence individual voices, either by threatening their careers or paying them off with non-disclosure agreements. However, successful and well-loved actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Jennifer Lawrence could not be dismissed as gold-diggers or scorned women, and the sick exploitation of the casting couch was finally exposed.
However, the Epstein case may also have revealed the extent to which powerful billionaires can gain influence and control over elements of the law, the judiciary and government, through honeypot schemes and blackmail (“pee-pee” tape, anyone?). Today, where there is interference by foreign governments in democracy, justice and the free press, as well as a total disregard for truth and morality, we can now see clearly how individual sexual misdemeanours and crimes can impact upon, not just vulnerable young women, but us all.