As you may have heard, IMF chief and French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested this weekend in New York City and charged with several counts of sexual assault, including attempted rape, after attacking a hotel housekeeper in his luxury Sofitel suite. You can read details here—the victim ultimately escaped, got help and the NYPD was called. Strauss-Kahn (known as DSK in France) hopped a cab immediately and headed to JFK airport, but called the hotel to report that—whoops!—he’d left his phone in his hotel room and asked that someone bring it to him at the airport (entitled much?). Which the police did. They also brought handcuffs.
Almost immediately, DSK’s arrest made headlines everywhere, not least of which because he was supposed to chair an economic summit in Europe this week, and has been considered a frontrunner to challenge Nicholas Sarkozy for leadership of the Socialist party in upcoming elections. A rich white French politician attempting to rape an African immigrant? It was, as Jon Stewart put it, a “live action metaphor.”
DSK hired some of New York’s finest criminal attorneys, but was denied bail after being considered a high flight risk. Predictably, there was outrage in France, where DSK was passionately defended by preening left-wing intellectual Bernard Henri Levy *, he of the theatrically flowing mane and strategically unbuttoned shirt. BHL as you may remember, was behind the infamous petition in support of child rapist Roman Polanski, and once again, he’s outraged by the way the American legal system unfairly prosecutes his cool friends just because women get all uppity about consent. Many of his left-wing cronies also point to DSK’s reputation as a ladies’ man as proof positive he can’t be a rapist (something also heard frequently about Polanski). Which is bullshit, because, as Kate Harding pointed out that “whether Strauss-Kahn is ‘the great seducer,’ for instance, has very little to do with whether he might also be “the great rapist,” because rape is not actually seduction gone pear-shaped.”
This week in response to DSK’s arrest, French journalist Tristiane Banon came forward with her own story of being assaulted by DSK in a fairly similar way, after he agreed to do a one-on-one interview with her in an empty apartment. At the time, Banon’s mother, Anne Mansouret, a politician in the same party as DSK, discouraged Banon from reporting the non-seduction because she knew the publicity would likely kill her daughter’s career. She now says: “Today I am sorry to have discouraged my daughter from complaining. I bear a heavy responsibility.” That a white, educated woman from a politically prominent family was afraid to report an attempted rape speaks volumes about how much power DSK wields—the kind of power that a sexual predator thrives on. I think we can logically assume DSK has been attacking women for many, many years.
At the end of the day, none of this should surprise anyone. A rich and powerful man with a history of getting away with assault because women are scared to accuse him? Nothing new about that, except perhaps that he’s not playing in the NFL or NBA. I’m gratified, at least, that the judge wouldn’t let DSK cash in on his fame and fortune, and that he’s cooling his heels in Rikers Island like any other accused rapist (albeit presumably in solitary confinement, as he’d last about five minutes in the general population). I give the NYPD and Manhattan DA a lot of credit—they acted quickly and decisively and followed all the standards for proper treatment of a sex crime (ironically, even as two NYPD officers are being tried downtown for allegedly committing rape). DSK hasn’t been convicted, but his political career is over. His lucrative job at the IMF is finished. And it’s nothing less than he deserves.
*Personal note to DSK and BHL: You rape-loving assholes are an embarrassment to the Jewish community. You think we don’t have enough problems in the world already, especially in France? Do us a mitzvah and get the fuck out of my ethnic group already.