Women's Magazines Will Cover #MeToo But Stay Silent About Female Sex Trafficking Victims

Why do women’s publications like Refinery29 and Cosmo rarely (if ever) cover stories of child sex trafficking, yet dedicate so much of their time to scrutinizing the #MeToo movement?

By S.G. Cheah3 min read
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The past few years saw the downfall of two incredibly wealthy and politically powerful men over their many detestable sex offenses. Film producer Harvey Weinstein, arguably one of the most influential men in Hollywood, was finally brought to justice, as was Jeffrey Epstein, the billionaire financier who was once Cosmopolitan’s “Bachelor of the Month.”

A quick search on Cosmopolitan’s website for stories about the billionaire pedophile Jeffrey Epstein returns a total of four results. Only four. But, if you search Cosmo for stories about Harvey Weinstein, the man who incited the #MeToo movement, you’ll see a total of 61 results.

Another quick search for “Jeffrey Epstein” on the women’s publication Refinery29, a global media behemoth valued at $4 billion, showed a mere 22 results in total. In contrast, the search for Harvey Weinstein had a total of 200 results. A search on Elle for “Jeffrey Epstein” returned seven results, while “Harvey Weinstein” had 78 results.

Articles about the #MeToo movement are about 10 times more prevalent than articles on child sexual abuse.

I figured, since the Harvey Weinstein scandal sparked the #MeToo movement, I’d do a search on “#MeToo” on Refinery29, which returned a total of 185 results. Interestingly, I searched for “PizzaGate,” mostly just out of curiosity (seeing how PizzaGate was the closest thing to a movement against child sex trafficking that mirrors the online #MeToo activism). As expected, PizzaGate came back with zero results.

Weirdly though, I did stumble upon an article on Refinery29 about Rosanne Barr addressing the “PizzaGate” controversy, only it had zero references to PizzaGate itself. The whole thing was just weird because why would you write an editorial that was clearly about “PizzaGate” but omit the very buzzword which describes the movement? Even if PizzaGate was nothing more than a crazy conspiracy theory, we still openly mock Alex Jones and his gay frogs’ theory, so why the ambiguity over “PizzaGate”?

Overlooking the Exploitation of Children

Well, at least the crazy PizzaGate scandal managed to spur a real conversation on these women’s publications about the issue of child sex abuse, right? Nope. A search for “child sex abuse” on the Refinery29 site returned a mere seven results. And I must add, one of those seven articles was extremely unnerving to read. It was an article on how to direct a child in a movie about sexual abuse.

A search for “child sex abuse” on the Refinery29 site returned a mere seven results. 

Casting a young child to depict sexual abuse isn’t bad by itself, but the question remains, what exactly is the artistic merit of depicting the explicit act of the sexual abuse on screen? To be clear, the movie itself seems really important because it shows us just how dangerous sexual predators are and how they prey on helpless, impressionable children. The problem, however, is with the graphic scenes of a child getting raped on screen.

HBO’s movie about child sexual abuse, “The Tale.”
HBO’s movie about child sexual abuse, “The Tale.”

The way I see it, if a movie was going to help raise awareness about animal abuse, I don’t have to watch a puppy wailing in excruciating pain as it’s getting kicked to death or a kitten getting burned alive for me to “get the feeling” of why animal abuse is bad. Perhaps I’m just too much of a simpleton, so someone has to explain to me why it’s necessary for audiences to watch a child getting raped on screen to understand that child sexual abuse is wrong?

Women Who Enable Child Sexual Predators

Fortunately, the writer-director of the movie mentioned in the Refinery29 article happens to be a woman. For the sake of the child actor, that was good to hear. It was at least comforting to know that the 11-year-old actress wasn’t being instructed on how to perform being sexually abused by an adult male director. However, that isn’t to say that women are intrinsically better or less predatory.

Women can be as dangerous to children, especially when it comes to enabling sexual offenses against minors. In one of the worst cases of sexual abuse, Ghislaine Maxwell, the girlfriend of pedophile Jeffrey Epstein, helped him obtain victims as young as 11 years old for his sick abuse. And she wasn’t the only one. There are charges against many other women who also helped and encouraged the pedophile’s exploitation of children. 

Ghislaine Maxwell with one of the underage victims she trafficked, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. MediaPunch Inc/Alamy
Ghislaine Maxwell with one of the underage victims she trafficked, Virginia Roberts Giuffre. MediaPunch Inc/Alamy

In fact, in a lot of cases, the recruitment of victims for pedophiles like Jeffrey Epstein is done predominantly by the women who enable this abuse. Epstein had an army of women, like Ghislaine Maxwell, Elaine Guggenheim, and his many “secretaries,” who did the procuring of victims for him.

If you look at it at the micro-level, the pedophile billionaire was essentially a pimp who preyed on children and trafficked them to other abusers, while the women who worked for him were his many “bottom girls” who did the recruiting and training of the many child victims for him.

Sex Trafficking Predators Are Both Men and Women

Is this perhaps the reason why women’s publications like Cosmo and Refinery29 rarely cover stories about child sex abuse? Because digging deeper into the topic will uncover the uncomfortable truth of how women are just as capable as men of being the abuser?

Women are just as capable as men of being the abuser.

They don’t want to cover the truly terrible stories because they fear it would make their #MeToo stories look petty and meaningless in comparison. It should be hard to ignore the underage girls who were actively targeted, exploited, and broken by the pedophile monsters who prey on kids and run these sex trafficking rings.

Closing Thoughts

When I talked to my friend Jenny, a proud mother of two beautiful children (who’s also a strong advocate against pedophiles and sex trafficking on her YouTube channel), about why she thinks women’s magazines don’t scrutinize the abuse of children, she poignantly said they do it “to dull the instincts of the natural woman which is to protect children.” I couldn’t agree more. The overwhelming focus on #MeToo seems so self-indulgent when compared to shockingly loathsome, organized sexual abuses of minors.

So will these popular and influential women’s magazines help bring justice to the many women and underage girls who were sexually violated by powerful men when they were children? Or will they stay silent and ignore the many cases of abuse and exploitation of vulnerable minors by the people in power?