Archive for July 21st, 2011

Power without responsibility—the prerogative of the harlot throughout the ages.  –  Rudyard Kipling

I’m sure most of you have been following the whole Dominique Strauss-Kahn unpleasantness, at least in a cursory fashion; and I know some of you are interested in what I think about it, because several of you have asked me.  Unfortunately, I honestly don’t know what to think, so I’ll just settle for synopsizing the mess and concluding with my analysis of the way the media has covered it and the unpleasant conclusions I am forced to draw from that coverage.

The affair started on Saturday, May 14th when Dominque Strauss-Kahn, a prominent French socialist and manager of the International Monetary Fund since 2007, was arrested on charges that he had sexually assaulted a Guinean maid named Nafissatou Diallo in his room at the Manhattan Sofitel.  The police made a great Roman triumph of parading him before the cameras (as they are wont to do in these barbaric times), and he was thrown into a high-security prison and denied bail on the grounds that he was a flight risk.  He resigned from his IMF post on Wednesday, May 18th, and the next day he surrendered his passport and was released to house arrest (at his daughter’s New York home) under condition of electronic monitoring.

Strauss-Kahn’s lawyers insisted that the encounter with the maid was consensual, but as I pointed out in my column of one year ago today it is a rare woman who has sex with a stranger without some other motivation, and as Laura Agustín pointed out it is unlikely “that a migrant person who has managed to obtain a steady job with an employer of some reputation, Sofitel, would risk losing that job.  Her employment is important to the case because for a migrant it means legal security of a kind not easily available, and on the basis of this alone I find it hard to imagine Diallo would fabricate an accusation against a guest, or engage in a sexual romp with one, for that matter.”  I agree, but at the same time I also agree with Furry Girl that it is a big mistake to automatically believe in the truth of every allegation of sexual assault.  So when Kristin Davis attempted to capitalize on DSK’s misfortune by tattling on his supposed past behavior with escorts, I responded by inducting her into my Hall of Shame and pointing out that “just because a client is rough with a working girl does not…constitute evidence of rape any more than reading a book about explosives means that a person is guilty of a bombing.”

In other words, I was (and remain) extremely uncertain about the case and was therefore unwilling to say anything one way or another.  I remained silent when a French reporter accused him of trying to rape her in 2002 and when a new book accused him of raping a Mexican maid  and trying to “jump” at least 14 other women; then I waited to see if anything would come of Diallo’s hiring a French lawyer to dig these women up.  But on July 2nd the tabloid New York Post reported that prosecutors had told them Diallo was a “pathological liar and scam artist” who was accused of defrauding other immigrants from her country with a pyramid scheme, lying to prosecutors and on her immigration papers and tax forms, falsely claiming to have been gang-raped in Guinea and saying to her boyfriend (on a phone line monitored at his end, in an Arizona jail), “Don’t worry, this guy has a lot of money. I know what I’m doing.”  So why is all this pertinent to this blog?  She’s also accused of prostituting herself to Sofitel guests.

Needless to say, Diallo has sued the Post; it is equally needless to say that the case against DSK quickly unraveled after the counter-accusations.  If this woman really did subject an innocent man to an extortion scheme, she deserves whatever she gets; as I said in my June 4th column, being a sexually aggressive arsehole does not make a man a rapist, and false rape accusations hurt all women by making the “authorities” more cynical about future rape accusations.  But that’s not the most important feature of this whole thing, which is the way that our profession is being slandered yet again.  It wasn’t enough just to say she had been accused of fraud and extortion; oh no!  The Post’s headline screamed, “DSK MAID A HOOKER”, because as we all know that’s much worse than being a pathological liar and scamming one’s own people.  Considering that sources close to the case say the accusation isn’t even true (and that seems likely considering her libel suit doesn’t mention the other allegations), why would the Post use that particular insult (and other media follow it like lemmings) when there are other, more solid and serious accusations to choose from?  Well, for one thing, sex sells.  But more importantly, branding Diallo as a whore allows the media to evoke the filthy lie that prostitutes cannot be raped, thus letting Strauss-Kahn off the hook (perhaps a consummation devoutly to be wished by media bigwigs who embarrassed themselves by convicting him in the court of public opinion practically as soon as he was arrested).

This is the real story, and the real shame on the American people:  nobody would’ve dared to say Strauss-Kahn must be a criminal because he is French, or Diallo one because she is black; nobody but the most fanatical neofeminists would’ve  pre-convicted DSK for being a man, and none but the most bitter misogynists would’ve pre-convicted Diallo for being a woman.  Likewise rich or poor, privileged or underprivileged, politician or peasant.  But let someone be accused of being a prostitute, and there are still far too many in this country (especially among the police, religious fanatics and neofeminists) who instantly accept that as irrefutable evidence of innate moral corruption and pronounce that any woman who could “degrade” herself by {gasp!} having sex and making a living at the same time, is capable of any crime no matter how depraved.

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