Sunday, 15 May 2011

Women as collateral damage in politics.

Twitter was all a-twitter yesterday evening as news broke out that Dominique Strauss-Kahn or DSK had been prevented from boarding his Air France flight and was being questioned by the police about a reported sexual assault.

Many elements of this story are troubling; observers of European politics thought DSK would challenge and defeat Sarkozy in the next presidential elections in France and bring the socialist party back to power.

Thus his supporters are claiming the circumstances of this incident are 'un coup monté' - that is, a set-up. It would certainly seem details regarding the alleged crimes were judiciously leaked by his adversaries.

Nonetheless, this man has a history of of similar incidents. The women he allegedly violated or attempted to have sex with - forcibly - are numerous. None ever stepped forward to lay formal charges. DSK is a wealthy man, member of an illustrious family and wrapped in a protective cocoon of class and political privilege.

From here (Google translation):
The issue with the current Dominique Strauss-Kahn incident is that there are too many precedents. Stories were first circulated as gossip: DSK, womanizer; DSK, skirt-chaser; DSK unable to accept no as answer from female journalists ...
Then there were books in which thinly veiled descriptions of a certain unnamed politician obsessed with sex, an insatiable regular at swingers clubs, were alleged to be about him.

For years, this reputation didn't seem to hinder his political career. Only in 2007, with his appointment to the IMF, was the issue raised publicly by Jean Quatremer, a journalist with Liberation:

"The only real problem with Strauss-Kahn is with his relationship to women. Too insistent with his demands, he often flirts with sexual harassment. This is known throughout the media, but nobody speaks up about it - this is France, after all."
As with Julian Assange, it appears that a significant number of ideological sympathizers are eager to proclaim that accusations of sexual assault against their hero and leader are nefarious plots cooked up to bring him down.

DSK should be presumed innocent, until a court of law decides upon the degree of his guilt - or responsibility for his actions - can be proved beyond a doubt.

But it also appears that the current situation may be the result of years of complicity, of DSK being allowed to run roughshod over women, with no family members, advisors or peers attempting to curb his behaviour by telling him that he's a sexual predator and his obsessive pursuit of a perceived 'droit de cuissage' have caused injury and damage to women.

At least one can imagine that, unlike rightwing religious fundamentalist hypocrite Newt Gingrich, DSK won't claim patriotic fervour as justification for his excesses and lying lies.


Anonymous said...

The ONLY question to ask is Why right now?

deBeauxOs said...

Why right now?

The ONLY question? Because, of course, sexual predators with wealth, class and political privilege always get investigated and charged for their crimes against women, right?

There is no doubt an element of strategic opportunism on the part of DSK's adversaries.

Also an interesting discussion to follow.

Anonymous said...

Indeed it is. But Moreno of the ICC had the same thing happen to him and he's still head of ICC.
This is about shaping foreign policy, nothing more.

janfromthebruce said...

This recent incident is a serious charge and markedly different than being a "skirt chasing".

For me, it just doesn't feel right - someone who in one week is going to run for president would sexually assault a maid. It really does smell fishy. Sorry I have to say that but it sure smells badly.

Beijing York said...

Not to diminish what seems like a trend of abusing women, but why was this entitled man working for the likes of the heinous IMF ever freaking courted to lead the French socialists? The fact that he would run under their banner smells badly to me.

deBeauxOs said...

janfromthebruce, if you bothered to read more about DSK, it appears that a number of the skirts he chased wanted no part of him. Although some of his staff claimed women threw themselves at DSK, the women he pursued were those he couldn't have and who didn't want him. It is alleged that he wouldn't accept "no" as an answer to his advances, that a rejection merely made him more aggressive.

And given his background of wealth and entitlement, would it be surprising to learn his adolescent sexual experiences, consensual or not, were with his parents' female domestic staff - who would lose their jobs if they refused him?

Here is an hypotheses. Men like DSK are so used to getting whatever they command with impunity that they engage in bigger and more reckless risks. I'd bet that if this alleged assault had occured in a European hotel, the manager would have talked his employee out of reporting it to the police.

The timing is bad for him, but if he is guilty as charged, he has no one to blame but himself.

We don't presume rightwing Con men have been "entrapped" when such events happen, why the conspiracy theories that suggest DSK is a victim?

Anonymous said...

A womanizer yes. Rapist surely not. Why is this story happening just now ? How could DSK be stopped legally by the police leaving the country in such a short time? Fishy?
Not fishy but smelling like a conspiracy occurring at an ideal time for Mr Sarkozy for sure!

Anonymous said...

Strauss-Kahn is the head of the IMF. Is there anything more predatory than that? Why would you expect an authoritarian who treats entire countries as disposable to treat women any differently?

The amazing part is that he hasn't been arrested before now. Guess he never actually visits any of the countries he screws.

deBeauxOs said...

Anonymous, here is the event to which you allude. The woman who was allegedly sexually coerced by Moreno did not file charges against him.

It's not the same thing, from the information I was able to gather.

Could you explain your remark about "shaping foreign policy"?

deBeauxOs said...

janfromthebruce: please read this. Then decide if it's a frame job or simply another *incident* in DSK's history of alleged violence against women.

deBeauxOs said...

Anonymous at 9:55, if due legal process determines evidence of alleged criminal sexual assault to be conclusive and DSK guilty as charged, then do ask him why he acted as he did at this critical moment in his career.

FBI profilers of serial sexual predators can often identify specific triggers or stressors that will spur habitual, recidivist criminals to violence. Ask them for insight.

janfromthebruce said...

You don't have to be snarky. I would hope that it comes to court and justice is served. I didn't like it when Layton was framed and so I don't like it when someone else is too, even though I don't care for his politics.

And also, I don't know about the credibility of the blog you linked to. It all smells fishy.

deBeauxOs said...

janfromthebruce: Ugh. You compare Layton to DSK and you say I'm snarky - just because I suggested that you might do a bit more reading, before deciding whether DSK was set up like Eliot Spitzer was?

That blog is no less credible than many you've linked to in your posts.

wondering said...

It's not hard at all for me to believe that powerful, privileged, entitled men are accustomed to taking who and what they want, don't like taking no for an answer, then use their wealth and power to cover it up and intimidate their victims. It's also not hard for me to believe that there are other people of wealth and power who keep tabs on this sort of behaviour so that they can trot out the facts and put some of their money and prestige behind smearing the first guy.

The person losing out is the powerless victim in the middle. The only way she (and it is usually, but not always, a she) can get justice and/or recompense is when someone in power takes an interest in the case. And of course, they're the ones who decide the timing. That's what happened with Assange and what is happening with DSK.

The fact that the timing is a set up doesn't mean that the victimization didn't occur!

deBeauxOs said...

Yeah, it's all about timing and opportunity.

None of the men who repeatedly assaulted and sexually violated hundreds and hundreds of women and girls in the Congo will be be ever investigated, nor have evidence gathered implicating any of their actions or be charged with these crimes until one becomes a problem for a powerful man who will want him taken out of his game, and who will exploit the legal system to ensure that justice is selectively carried out.


Does that sound right, wondering?

wondering said...

Yeah, deBeauxOs, that's one way of putting it. Though I have to say that I consider the Congo situation to be somewhat different - there, rape is a weapon of war and hundreds of THOUSANDS of women are being raped. But it is not being done by the rich and powerful, it's done by soldiers who have been set loose to rape (women and girls), kidnap (boys as boy soldiers and girls as "camp followers", and kill (men). It's horrific, and no one will be brought to justice but it's not because the rich and powerful are covering it up.

The rich and powerful have their own game going on.

Oemissions said...

Michael Byers on his fb page describes Neil MacDonald's column /CBC on the poor man's ruined reputation as "BRAVE"
Man, did I respond
Seems that some people think the name of the accused should not be published
until proven guilty
yeah sure, say I, apply that to all the hockey coaches and priests whose victims may have never come forward without the accused being named
Reminder, 1 in 3 women in US military experienced sexual assault
and, how about the victims reputations, think they don't suffer too?

deBeauxOs said...

It always surprises me when people bleat stuff about the reputation of those charged with *alleged* crimes.

Yes, miscarriage of justice occurs - to the point where lawyers work pro bono on cases where ultimately, individuals innocent of the crime for which they were convicted are released.

But sexual assault remains shockingly under-reported because of jerks like Neil MacDonald's sympathy for alleged rapists like DSK.

Here's what I think happened: when the housekeeper returned to her work station after the assault, her colleagues convinced her to report it and the hotel did not try to quash the investigation. Otherwise, the police wouldn't have removed him from the plane for questioning - it seems at that point the evidence was solid enough to lay charges, based on his response.

I dunno. Maybe DSK has a brain tumour or something and his behaviour suddenly escalated. But then you read about how the daughter of family friends narrowly escaped the same fate, years ago. And you wonder how many women in subaltern positions suffered what that NYC woman did, without ever reporting it.

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