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With regard to that apocryphal 'droit de cuissage'...

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“Quel beau cul!” were the last words that the staff and passengers of flight AF-023 heard Dominique Strauss-Kahn utter before he left in the company of two Port Authority employees, purportedly to retrieve the cell phone he had forgotten in his Manhattan hotel room.

Look at that ass! (I cannot translate in a manner that does justice to the tone of loathsome cupidity the original expression - when proffered by a stranger - conveys.)

Where is the dividing line between a man who takes visible pleasure from the company of women and a man who takes his pleasure from women with no consideration of them as autonomous human beings?

Men who use “glory holes” have a finer honed sense of boundaries and propriety than DSK would seem to grasp. That understanding appears to elude a great number of his peers within and without the official organ of the Socialist Party in France.

The International Monetary Fund’s managing director who, until this week, was widely believed to have a good chance of being elected president of France in next year’s elections is facing seven charges, including attempted rape and unlawful imprisonment of a maid at the New York hotel in which he was staying. From Bernard-Henri Lévy to Jean Daniel, the longtime editor of the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur, to the distinguished human rights lawyer turned politician Robert Badinter, who, as Francois Mitterand’s justice minister secured the abolition of the death penalty, the French elite consensus seems to be that it is Strauss-Kahn himself and not the 32-year-old maid who is the true victim of this drama.

It has long been my view that the male population is roughly divided into 3 camps; those who commit with impunity a range of violent actions against women, those who are passively complicit with the first group and benefit from the terror they spread and, finally but certainly not least, the good men who do not engage in these behaviours and who speak up against them.

The men in the first group do not, in spite of their proclamations to the contrary, “love” women. What passes for “love” is a range of manipulative strategies they have learned from observing family members and other male figures. These tactics have one purpose: to ensure a woman is available, willing or not, to service their needs.

A number of men in the third camp have skewered the irrational and presumptuous justification of Strauss-Kahn’s behaviour. One splendid and witty example can be found here. This tweet is but one of many pithy gems along the same lines.

As for women who have shared their observations, many have judiciously located DSK’s alleged crimes within a larger perspective of power wielded against women.

The week’s news about the sexual conduct of politically powerful men gives me a queasy feeling of déjà vu.

As the French agonize over whether Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s star power quashed past allegations, I can respond cynically: Yes, that probably happened. But we should not automatically assume that timelier reporting about Strauss-Kahn’s sexually aggressive behavior (including an alleged violent incident in 2002) would have slowed the 62-year-old Socialist’s march toward the French presidency.

I speak from experience.

Eight years ago I was dragged scowling and complaining into an investigation of allegations that Arnold Schwarzenegger— the leading candidate for governor of California—had sexually harassed and molested women.

French feminists have also spoken up resolutely about the disturbing proclamations of class/gender “fraternité” with the accused. Even those with purportedly no dog in the fight are enthralled by the vivid outpourings of support or disgust for DSK.

If Dominique Strauss-Kahn is deemed guilty of current (and past) charges of sexual assault, what distinguishes him from the soldiers raping girls and women in the Congo are ostensibly his French citizenship, his wealth, his class privilege/entitlements and the fact one woman at least may finally obtain justice for this crime committed against her

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This page contains a single entry by published on May 22, 2011 3:27 PM.

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