‘Cuties’ Just the Tip of the Child Exploitation Iceberg

‘Cuties’ Just the Tip of the Child Exploitation Iceberg
Screenshot from "Cuties" trailer. (screenshot/Netflix)
Wesley J. Smith
Suddenly, everybody hates Netflix. And for a righteous reason. The mega-streaming service brought a French movie to our television screens called “Cuties,” about an 11-year-old Muslim girl who defies her strict culture by joining with classmates to enter a “twerking” dance contest.

For the blissfully uninformed, twerking is a dance move in which the dancer thrusts out his or her butt and shakes it in a highly sexualized manner—clearly inappropriate for young children. But don’t tell Netflix executives. They not only brought the movie to the United States, but the film’s trailer and poster photos vividly depict four scantily clad prepubescents twerking—and also engaging in spread-leg crotch-grabbing while flashing coquettish sex kitten looks toward the audience. What were they thinking?

Enraged people across the country started a Twitter #CancelNetflix campaign. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) angrily jumped the shark, calling for a Justice Department investigation into whether the distribution of the film violates federal laws against the production and distribution of child pornography.

From the other side of the political aisle, former presidential candidate, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii), said the movie “will certainly whet the appetite of pedophiles & help fuel the child sex trafficking trade.” Ouch.

Netflix and some in the media have defended the film as an exposé about how social media and modern culture exploit and sexualize children. OK. But surely, the solution to the social crisis of sexually exploiting children isn’t more of the same.

As the National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE) put it, “Netflix wants to have its cake and eat it too: it’s underwriting a coming-of-age story by a woman of color, which is laudable, but it has given a home to a film that depicts the oversexualization of children in a way that adds to the problem of child sexual exploitation.”

Exploiting Children

Still, I can’t help wondering why “Cuties” has sparked such a white-hot social conflagration when far more egregious examples of exploiting children or otherwise treating them as if they were adults aren't only celebrated, but in some cases, considered a civil right.
Take abortion. In many states—such as California, Alaska, Nevada, and Connecticut—underage girls can not only obtain abortions without their parents’ consent, but even without their folks being notified. Indeed, California voters twice voted to ensure that parents would not be told that their young daughters were pregnant and had surgical or chemical abortions.
Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood happily posts a state-by-state list telling underage girls how they can obtain abortions on the sly.
And talking about sexualizing children, Planned Parenthood promotes birth control for underage girls, too, assuring them that “many states have special parental consent laws that protect your right to get sexual health services privately, even if you are under 18.”

PP’s website goes beyond merely informing to outright advocacy, cooing that birth control “can have lots of other benefits” beyond preventing pregnancy.

“Some kinds of hormonal birth control ... can do things like ease cramps and MPS, and make your period lighter. The pill, patch, and ring can also help with acne and make your periods more regular. Almost everybody uses birth control at some point.” In other words, Planned Parenthood encourages girls to put strong hormones in their bodies without parents having a clue.

It's worth pointing out that some of the girls obtaining abortions and birth control without parental notice or consent are having sex with adults or otherwise being sexually molested, not that Planned Parenthood seems to care.

Also note that these same children can’t consent to being tattooed or purchasing a car, both of which are far less consequential than extinguishing a fetus or undertaking decisions about their sex lives that should be reserved for adults.

Meanwhile, California just passed a law lessening the criminal penalties for gay adults sexually abusing children. Specifically, the law eliminates automatic sex-offender registration for adults who have gay sex with minors age 14 to 17 if the offender is less than 10 years older than the victim.
Why do that? The law’s sponsor and media defenders claim the change was required to eliminate discrimination against gay people since that is already the legal standard for adults having “consensual” heterosexual relations with children.
Good grief, surely the answer to that dichotomy wasn’t to reduce penalties for gay sexual predation, but to increase it for heterosexual sexual exploitation. In any event, if a 24-year-old has sex with a 14-year-old in California, he or she may not have to register as a sex offender. But if a 25-year-old does, he or she will. That makes zero sense unless the point of the law is to further the normalization of adult-child sex.

‘Right to Transition’

Sex isn’t the only area in which society is trending toward abandoning children to adult decisions with potential lifetime consequences. How else describe the push to allow young children diagnosed with gender dysphoria to have their natural puberties blocked—an intervention specifically endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, even though it admits that “research on long-term health risks” (such as on bone metabolism and fertility) “is currently limited and provides varied results.” In other words, these children are being subjected to unethical human experimentation.
In the name of preventing discrimination based on sexual identity, some children are undergoing mutilating surgeries. For example, biological girls as young as 13 who identify as males have had mastectomies—euphemistically called “chest surgery” in a JAMA Pediatrics article approving the practice, “based on individual need rather than chronologic age.”
There is even advocacy to create a new “right to transition.” If followed, doctors would be permitted to provide children these profoundly impactful interventions, also without parental consent—just as is often done already with abortion.

Clearly, the leaders of society no longer believe children should always be treated as children when it comes to some of the most life-impacting decisions and actions one can imagine. So, forgive me if I am not overly distraught over “Cuties.” A movie that depicts little girls dancing suggestively should be condemned, and I join wholeheartedly in the criticism.

But focusing our righteous rage on an inappropriate movie is like worrying about a backyard barbecue getting a little too hot while the surrounding forest is on fire.

Award-winning author Wesley J. Smith is chairman of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism. His latest book is “Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine.”
Views expressed in this article are opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.
Award-winning author Wesley J. Smith is host of the Humanize Podcast (Humanize.today), chairman of the Discovery Institute’s Center on Human Exceptionalism and a consultant to the Patients Rights Council. His latest book is “Culture of Death: The Age of ‘Do Harm’ Medicine.”