Two Poems and My Creative Process During National Poetry Writing Month

A newspaper left on an easy chair in a now-abandoned house.

Trigger Warning: child sexual abuse in the film “Cuties.”

Hand reaching up.

With the film “Cuties,” efforts against child sexual exploitation have taken a giant step backward. A movie rated NC17 or for Mature Audiences, yet starring little girls, is inarguably child sexual abuse material, CSAM You don’t have to watch the abuse, especially if it would be triggering. The stills from the film and the rating are more than enough. The film couldn’t be made in America because we have laws against child sexual exploitation. They made it in France, which doesn’t have an age of consent law yet.

Sexualizing children to educate against sexualizing children is absurd in its evil, like fighting a war to end war. It’s like the 1970s incest stories published as educational case studies to avoid the label porn, yet sold in adult stores. “Bastard Out of Carolina” was a novel about the evils of child sexual abuse that harmed no children, written by an incest survivor. The filmmaker could have written such a book. She chose instead to exploit minors sexually. If you don’t understand that sexualizing children to protest sexualizing children is wrong, you probably identify as a liberal.

Liberals, when I say a film sexualizing children to “educate” about sexualizing children is CSAM, child sexual abuse material, you should listen. I’m probably further left than you politically, being CODEPINK and a Yippie, so don’t say that I’m reading rightwing propaganda.

I am an incest survivor. My stepfather sexually abused me, as well as beating and emotionally abusing me for eight years. The nightmare culminated in him stalking me with a gun on my college campus until I fled to the opposite coast. As an adult, I have survived sexual assaults by cis women and men. I’ve spent my adult life working with sexual abuse survivors, changing laws to protect the victims, and fighting to change the social attitudes that stigmatize survivors. I founded one of the first online rape crisis centers, the Healing Grove. I’ve personally stopped child abuse with no thought for my safety. No longer ashamed of the incest, I am proud that I have changed lives. When it comes to child sexual exploitation, I know what I’m talking about. I know about effective activism. Abuse is not activism.

You objected to girls being sexualized when Jeff Epstein, a white man, and his influential friends did it. Liberals want to support a young Black woman filmmaker from a marginalized community and think the best of her. So did I. I wanted to believe her narrative, that the film didn’t sexualize little girls, that it was Netflix hype and clips taken out of context. I was in denial.

Nobody wants to believe that women abuse, but you know better if you listened to Virginia Guiffre Roberts. Sometimes, regrettably, people victimized in childhood grow up to victimize children. It is the cycle of abuse. The filmmaker abused little girls by having them act out her abuse. Don’t be in denial.

If people don’t force Netflix to remove this film, I expect mainstream copycat films and series. The sexualization of children will be normalized in the name of ending it. Liberals, you say you believe in human rights. Are children not human beings? Every 9 minutes, a child in America is sexually assaulted, according to the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network, RAINN. Why let conservatives have the moral high ground on this one? Protecting children should be an issue we all agree on because children should always come first.

It is reasonable to assume that pedophiles everywhere are binge-watching “Cuties” on Netflix. Liberals, you are participating in the abuse by watching the film and enabling abuse by defending the film. The child actors in “Cuties” will go through life knowing pedophiles are creeping on them. The images will never go away. Survivors of CSAM have unique, lifelong challenges. Break the cycle of abuse. #CancelNetflix

If you were sexually abused, it is not your fault, and you are not alone. has free, confidential, 24 hotlines at 800.656.4673 and chat peer counseling.

The Golden Gate Bridge at sunset.

Leigh Harwood

Poet, peace activist, and retired clown, living in the SF Bay Area. Author of “Faery Gold and Other Poems” available on Amazon, free on Kindle Unlimited.

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