Accused rapists find a friend in Bernard-Henri Levy

We have a longer post coming on the rape charges brought against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, but in the interim, allow me to direct your attention towards a fine piece of victim-blaming and my-friends-can-do-no-wrong-ing: Bernard-Henri Levy, also a defender of Roman Polanksi, explaining why Strauss-Kahn should not have the suffer the indignities of the American justice system.

He starts out, naturally, by saying that he “doesn’t know” what happened, but is happy to imply that the woman who accused Strauss-Kahn of assault is probably lying. Why? Because she’s a maid, and went in to a clean a room alone:

I do not know—but, on the other hand, it would be nice to know, and without delay—how a chambermaid could have walked in alone, contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York’s grand hotels of sending a “cleaning brigade” of two people, into the room of one of the most closely watched figures on the planet.

And I do not want to enter into considerations of dime-store psychology that claims to penetrate the mind of the subject, observing, for example, that the number of the room (2806) corresponds to the date of the opening of the Socialist Party primaries in France (06.28), in which he is the uncontested favorite, thereby concluding that this is all a Freudian slip, a subconsciously deliberate mistake, and blah blah blah.

What I do know is that nothing in the world can justify a man being thus thrown to the dogs.

What I know is that nothing, no suspicion whatever (for let’s remind ourselves that, as I write these lines, we are dealing only with suspicions!), permits the entire world to revel in the spectacle, this morning, of this handcuffed figure, his features blurred by 30 hours of detention and questioning, but still proud.

What I know as well is that nothing, no earthly law, should also allow another woman, his wife, admirable in her love and courage, to be exposed to the slime of a public opinion drunk on salacious gossip and driven by who knows what obscure vengeance.

All of which is good and fine, tried-and-true victim blaming. The accuser is low-class! What was she doing in there alone! He has a wife so he couldn’t have done this! Etc. But it pales in comparison to this stand-out line:

This morning, I hold it against the American judge who, by delivering him to the crowd of photo hounds, pretended to take him for a subject of justice like any other.

Let me copy and paste that again for you: “This morning, I hold it against the American judge who, by delivering him to the crowd of photo hounds, pretended to take him for a subject of justice like any other.”

How dare he be treated like just anyone!

As an aside, I think “perp walks,” where they parade the accused in front of throngs of photographers, are bad and irresponsible. But they’re not particularly bad here because Strauss-Kahn is a special snowflake who deserves to be treated with kid gloves. Levi continues:

I am troubled by a system of justice modestly termed “accusatory,” meaning that anyone can come along and accuse another fellow of any crime—and it will be up to the accused to prove that the accusation is false and without basis in fact.

That actually isn’t at all how our criminal justice system works. You can’t just accuse someone of a crime, with no basis in fact, and expect to have it prosecuted. DA’s offices and police forces investigate crimes for the purposes of (1) figuring out whether a crime was committed; (2) figuring out who committed it; and (3) gathering enough evidence to actually convict the person who committed it. So no, it’s not like I can walk into a police station, point a finger and send someone to jail.

But that’s not really the issue here. Levi’s complaint is that anyone would be able to level any sort of complaint against Strauss-Kahn. Other women coming forward and saying that Kahn acted (to put it extremely mildly) inappropriately towards them, and another woman who says Kahn tried to rape her, too? They are trying to “settle old scores or further their own little affairs;” the woman who came forward and said she kept the attempted rape a secret “pretends to have been the victim.” Kahn, on the other hand, is a champion, and the kind of man who should be accorded deference no matter what he does.

Kahn, of course, deserves his day in court. But if even putting him in the court room is an indignity he should not have to face, I’m not sure how justice can be done. And I’m not sure how tarring the women who have accused him of assault furthers a just outcome.

If you read French and want to die a little inside, here’s a round-up of the worst of the worst from the French press.

About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Politics, Sexual Assault and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

80 Responses to Accused rapists find a friend in Bernard-Henri Levy

  1. Léna says:

    I’m so sorry to write this, but Levi actually said much, much worse than this. He said that “[rape] is not a big deal”.

    A French blog ( http://blog.plafonddeverre.fr/post/DSK,-ce-qu-on-dit-de-la-plaignante ) lists all the horrible stuff said in France about this, including comments about the woman’s breasts and rump.

  2. gretel says:

    Another BHL quote that made me want to punch the wall: “I hold it against all those who complacently accept the account of this other young woman, this one French, who pretends to have been the victim of the same kind of attempted rape, who has shut up for eight years but, sensing the golden opportunity, whips out her old dossier and comes to flog it on television.”

  3. groggette says:

    Oh joy. I haven’t had a good headdesk moment in awhile.

  4. PrettyAmiable says:

    I don’t really get what they think is going on. Do they think someone from a French opposition party planted this woman to cry rape? I actually applied for jobs at the IMF and I have (or had, since I read the news) no fucking clue who this douchebag is.

  5. marnijane32 says:

    I’m not certain if this is the appropriate time to point this out, but in the course of reading this i noticed the levy piece sounds suspiciously like all of what i read defending assange. Suddenly that group of defenders believe perfectly well that kahn could commit a rape (or multiple). The difference? One’s a hero to them, one they already didn’t like. It’s kind of amazing really. And by amazing i of course mean horribly depressing.

  6. Léna says:

    PrettyAmiable : DSK is actually from the French opposition party, so it is thought that someone from the leading party planted this woman to cry rape, yes, so that Sarkozy would win the election in 2012.

    (Yes, my country is crazy).

  7. P.GiKa says:

    I’m French and it’s an euphemism to say that BHL is an as*hole.

    Also some complot theorists (about this story) are arguing that nobody knows who is the woman, so this looks like a “trap”. Journalists give her name, and the Facebook profile has been found…

    Everything around this is really disgusting, in France.

  8. Bex says:

    contrary to the habitual practice of most of New York’s grand hotels of sending a “cleaning brigade” of two people,

    Is this a thing? Granted, the time I’ve spent in up-up-up-scale hotels has been not in New York, but I’ve never encountered multiple maids per room. Sometimes there’s 2-3 per floor who’ll work together if things need heavy lifting, but more than one to do a basic room turnover?

  9. gretel says:

    PrettyAmiable: I don’t really get what they think is going on. Do they think someone from a French opposition party planted this woman to cry rape?

    Yes. I’ve repeatedly read the term “honey pot,” which makes me want to get smashy smashy. The cover of the worst paper in the US, AKA the New York Post is “HE DID HAVE SEX WITH THE MAID.” So the asshole narrative is that they had consensual sex and then she claimed he raped her because she is part of a vast conspiracy to ensure that Sarkozy is reelected.

    Rage.

  10. FashionablyEvil says:

    Is this a thing? Granted, the time I’ve spent in up-up-up-scale hotels has been not in New York, but I’ve never encountered multiple maids per room. Sometimes there’s 2-3 per floor who’ll work together if things need heavy lifting, but more than one to do a basic room turnover?

    Anything to discredit the accuser, I suppose. “What was she doing there? ALONE?

  11. gretchen says:

    gretel: “HE DID HAVE SEX WITH THE MAID.”

    Reminds me of the same crap as the Polanski case, with him admitting to having had ‘sex’ with a 13 year old who also repeatedly said no. Obviously then, if a man has any political or artistic notoriety enthusiastic consent is a given.

    Rage indeed.

  12. Bex says:

    @FashionablyEvil

    That was kind of what I thought, with a nice little pop of subtext saying “those lazy American maids, it takes two of them to clean a room” to prop up the idea of the victim as “after” something.

    Ugh. Every time BHL opens his mouth, I have to wonder what gross history is he hiding that he feels the need to defend sexual predators so vociferously.

  13. Nicholas says:

    Bernard-Henri Levy recalls the French national motto:

    Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.

  14. Nicholas says:

    Shit, strikethrough didn’t work on the “ga”.

    Should have read (with “ga” struckthrough):

    Liberté, Élité, Fraternité.

    HTML fail.

    /Bernard-Henri Levy is still horrible

  15. Sheelzebub says:

    : assange
    as been not in New York, but I’ve never encountered multiple maids per room. Sometimes there’s 2-3 per floor who’ll work together if things need heavy lifting, but more than one to do a basic room turnover?

    THIS. I no longer have a job where I travel regularly, but I’ve never had more than one person come in to clean my room–didn’t matter if I was staying at the Super 8 or a really high-end place.

    marnijane32:
    I’m not certain if this is the appropriate time to point this out, but in the course of reading this i noticed the levy piece sounds suspiciously like all of what i read defending assange. Suddenly that group of defenders believe perfectly well that kahn could commit a rape (or multiple). The difference? One’s a hero to them, one they already didn’t like. It’s kind of amazing really. And by amazing i of course mean horribly depressing.

    I think it’s perfectly appropriate to point it out. Myself, I plan to levy a tax on anyone who screeches about honey-pots, conspiracies, or radical feminists run amok in these cases.

  16. There’s so many things wrong with BHL’s latest rape apologia it’s hard to know even where to begin, but it’s also amusing that he seems to think that the American system offers fewer civil liberties than the French one. Er, no.

  17. PrettyAmiable says:

    Léna: PrettyAmiable : DSK is actually from the French opposition party, so it is thought that someone from the leading party planted this woman to cry rape, yes, so that Sarkozy would win the election in 2012.

    1. Thanks for the correction!
    2. STFU. I was kidding. That’s seriously what they think?

  18. Kristen J. says:

    I stayed at the Sofitel when I was interviewing in NY. One person was in my room straightening up when I came back for a quick change. YMMV. I will say *from what I’ve heard* the hotel personnel handled the situation well. Sadly other hotels treat the victims of sexual assault by *important* people with shall we say less consideration.

  19. And out come all of the doublethink-soaked accusations aimed at the NY victim and Tristane Banon, who reportedly spoke with a lawyer, was dissuaded from reporting at the time by her mother (a regional politician in Strauss-Kahn’s party), and spoke his name on-air in a 2007 French interview discussing her assault (the name was bleeped, bu everyone in the studio would have heard it). She spoke up, and BHL has the nerve to accuse her of bringing it up out of nowhere for unspoken, presumed-suspicious reasons.

    Flags went up when I learned Strauss-Kahn is referred to as “the great seducer” and supposedly “enjoys women”. If that’s not code for “he acts inappropriately-to-criminally on a regular basis and no one until now has been willing to call him the serial molester he is”, I’m not sure what else it could be.

    Infuriating. Maddening. I want to throw shit at the screen.

  20. Sheelzebub says:

    So, apparently, if the dude is rich, she’s a golddigger.

    If he’s political, she’s a plant/part of a conspiracy to smear him and take his side down.

    If he’s hot, she’s experiencing either regret OR anger that he won’t be her one and only.

    If he’s NOT famous, wealthy, powerful, and/or White, he might be guilty (but she’s still somehow at fault).

  21. Tom Foolery says:

    Is this a thing? Granted, the time I’ve spent in up-up-up-scale hotels has been not in New York, but I’ve never encountered multiple maids per room. Sometimes there’s 2-3 per floor who’ll work together if things need heavy lifting, but more than one to do a basic room turnover?

    The only place I’ve ever seen this in a developed nation is at the Four Seasons in Tokyo — one person goes in the room to do whatever needs doing, and the other person waits discretely outside with the door open. Places like the Waldorf-Astoria in NYC just send one person in to do the cleaning, from what I’ve seen.

  22. marnijane says:

    Sheelzebub, No no no, if he’s not famous etc and she’s rich or something than it either didn’t happen or she needed to be taken down a notch. (I’ve had a whole lot of rape arguments lately, am a bit ornery about it). Once upon a time i tried to make a bingo game for this but ran out of squares. :/

    With the amount of backbreaking mental gymnastics out there it’s a wonder the word rape even exists.

  23. alessa says:

    Rape culture. Oh dear lord, rape culture.

    This just reminds me of a moment when a bunch of students at my school called a girl who claimed a boy I knew raped her a whore. They were his friends, so sexual promiscuity on her part seemed to be the subconscious shelter for him. Then everyone started to complain about how “any girl who cries rape can completely mess up the life of the boy”.

    Regardless of evidence, or whatever, I feel that the only response to this is: as long as women have to fear rape, men have to fear accusation of rape.

    Period.

    And dear old Dominique here seems to be guilty anyway. So ha.

    I know what I said is controversial and I don’t want to offend anyone. But I truly believe that as women we need to defend our only defense against rape, and that is the fact that we can say something about it, and claim it happened to us, and not be derided. Too bad even that is too much to ask sometimes.

  24. Moopaw says:

    I suspect that those who lement Kahn’s treatment, would view this differently if the name was Clinton, and the wife’s name was Hillary, and the maid’s name was Monica. They would support a public lynching in that case.

  25. Stetson Kennedy says:

    I’ve stayed in more than my fair share of nice hotels, many even in NYC, and I’ve never seen more than one housekeeper come in to clean my room. And, no, I’ve nver tried to rape one of them either.

    The Sofitel is a nice hotel, but let’s not try to make it out to be The Plaza.

  26. gretel says:

    Stetson Kennedy: The Sofitel is a nice hotel, but let’s not try to make it out to be The Plaza.

    I have no idea what that means.

  27. JP says:

    Moopaw: I suspect that those who lement Kahn’s treatment, would view this differently if the name was Clinton, and the wife’s name was Hillary, and the maid’s name was Monica. They would support a public lynching in that case.

    I’m not sure why one should think that French politicians and public “intellectuals” like BHL would react to such a thing happening in a New York hotel with anything other than snide chuckles.

    What I am quite certain, though, is that if a high ranking American politician and likely presidential nominee of his party (whether Democrat or Republican) were arrested for rape, or indeed any crime whatever, in a foreign country and then denied bail, we’d be hearing, from across the American political spectrum, the very same things now coming from French public figures, and which are being reported breathlessly and with such self-satisfied superiority from Fox News to the NYT.

    These sorts of public comments are easy enough to explain by simple nationalism, without having to apparently assume, or insinuate as some do, that those defective European cultures are so much more prone to rape apology and legal iniquity than the fair and egalitarian USA. No nationalists resign themselves to having one of their own treated just like anybody else in a foreign land. Nor do public interventions of governments and politicians into foreign criminal proceedings against their citizens frequently raise many eyebrows. Whether nationalism – which firmly entrenched across the world, and usually defended even by liberals under the guise of patriotism – is at a deeper level compatible with a commitment to impartial justice is the real question. (Hint: no.)

  28. Pingback: More BHL : Lawyers, Guns & Money

  29. Pingback: The DSK Affair – An Angry Rant |

  30. Blue Lexa says:

    JP: I’m not sure why one should think that French politicians and public “intellectuals” like BHL would react to such a thing happening in a New York hotel with anything other than snide chuckles. What I am quite certain, though, is that if a high ranking American politician and likely presidential nominee of his party (whether Democrat or Republican) were arrested for rape, or indeed any crime whatever, in a foreign country and then denied bail, we’d be hearing, from across the American political spectrum, the very same things now coming from French public figures, and which are being reported breathlessly and with such self-satisfied superiority from Fox News to the NYT. These sorts of public comments are easy enough to explain by simple nationalism, without having to apparently assume, or insinuate as some do, that those defective European cultures are so much more prone to rape apology and legal iniquity than the fair and egalitarian USA. No nationalists resign themselves to having one of their own treated just like anybody else in a foreign land. Nor do public interventions of governments and politicians into foreign criminal proceedings against their citizens frequently raise many eyebrows. Whether nationalism – which firmly entrenched across the world, and usually defended even by liberals under the guise of patriotism – is at a deeper level compatible with a commitment to impartial justice is the real question. (Hint: no.)

    Well, sure, but the reason for the rape apologia doesn’t make it any more acceptable. Yes, things are pretty equally bad everywhere – that still doesn’t make it any less bad that it happened.

    Yes, nationalism damages progress towards truly equal treatment, and that is bad – but in this instance nationalism wouldn’t be expressed as it has been if it wasn’t made acceptable to do so by the existence of culturally entrenched sexism and acceptance rape apologia. Which is pretty much worldwide, as far as I can tell.

  31. Blue Lexa says:

    That should read, “acceptance of rape apologia. Sorry for the double post!

  32. Sheelzebub says:

    I will just point out that it is no coincidence that the hotel maid is from Africa, and that an upper-class White man seems to consider her unrapeable.

  33. xy says:

    Jill,

    “Accused rapists” – I’m not a native speaker, but is “accused rapist” the same in English as “person accused of rape”? The former sounds like a prejudgement to me.

    • Jill says:

      “Accused rapists” – I’m not a native speaker, but is “accused rapist” the same in English as “person accused of rape”? The former sounds like a prejudgement to me.

      Yes, it means the same thing as “person accused of rape.”

  34. Kristen J. says:

    xy:
    Jill,

    “Accused rapists” – I’m not a native speaker, but is “accused rapist” the same in English as “person accused of rape”? The former sounds like a prejudgement to me.

    o_0 For serious?

  35. anna says:

    TW

    “You can’t just accuse someone of a crime, with no basis in fact, and expect to have it prosecuted. DA’s offices and police forces investigate crimes for the purposes of (1) figuring out whether a crime was committed; (2) figuring out who committed it; and (3) gathering enough evidence to actually convict the person who committed it.”

    Thank you! It really pisses me off in cases like this when people talk about women “crying rape” like all a woman has to do is say “he raped me” and instantly a poor innocent guy gets thrown in jail.

  36. Magatha says:

    I don’t want to know what African country the housekeeper is from, primarily because her personal details are none of my business. I don’t want to know, don’t tell me, but I’m afraid that she emigrated from someplace like Congo, and she thought that aside from the threat of crime and assault that’s always present, especially in a big city, she’d be safe.

    I know it’s kind of dumb to dwell on this, since an assault is traumatic regardless of one’s personal history, but still. I am encouraged to see that the investigation and the charges have proceeded promptly.

    Also, the defendant should be grateful that he’s been elbowed out of the U.S. spotlight, for the moment, by my ridiculous former Governator.

  37. JP says:

    Blue Lexa: Well, sure, but the reason for the rape apologia doesn’t make it any more acceptable.

    I’ve never said it was. In fact, exactly the opposite is true – two negative tendencies are being compounded and magnified here, into a mixture even worse than each is independently.

    Blue Lexa: [I]n this instance nationalism wouldn’t be expressed as it has been if it wasn’t made acceptable to do so by the existence of culturally entrenched sexism and acceptance rape apologia.

    That I am not convinced of. There is, for example, no culturally entrenched acceptance of murder apologia, yet murderers arrested in foreign countries routinely get defended by public figures in their home countries, and their victims routinely get defamed (for recent American example, in a long string of similar ones, cf. Raymond Davis’ arrest in Pakistan, or the Amanda Knox case in Italy).

  38. losingmyreligion says:

    I’m just pissed off that men in powerful positions, that might have some traction against the whole power structure, get caught by their trouser activities – Assange, Spitzer, S-K. Each one is about to reveal information/go after Wall Street/curb the IMF’s most rabid financial derangements – and then voila! all disappears in a puff of libidinal smoke. On the eve of crucial IMF talks, where S-K wanted to curb the bankers’ demand for complete destruction of various European countries’ economies, he is conveniently sidelined and his replacement is a former CEO of JPMorgan. Spitzer was going after Wall Street, but a week before he would have done so, his preference for prostitutes was revealed. Assange is a nut case in many ways – but his wikileaks were rational, and his demonization for rape convenient time-wise, and also conveniently inconclusive. I hate thinking like this – I think of myself as a feminist, and want to support women who bravely come out as rape survivors – but I have great difficulty with the idea that the most recent cases of well-known rapists seem to be those not belonging to, or possibly straying from, the status quo, while the status quo seems to be in the business of wanting to pass laws that would screw us all while they giggle their way to the bank (the ones saved by massive taxpayer investment), or to their off-shore tax havens. It’s not that I think these guys are incapable of being bad; it’s that I believe their crappy counterparts are probably the same, but FauxNews et al. turns a blind eye.

  39. “I’m just pissed off that men in powerful positions, that might have some traction against the whole power structure, get caught by their trouser activities”

    Maybe they shouldn’t rape and abuse women, then.

    “trouser activities”. Honestly. Hey, they fight the Man, give ’em a pass, right? What’s a few abused and traumatized women when Important Things need doing, and only those Crusading Men are capable of doing it?

  40. Colin Day says:

    @Sheezelbub #15

    Myself, I plan to levy a tax on anyone who screeches about honey-pots, conspiracies, or radical feminists run amok in these cases.

    Would that include taxing a Levy?

  41. Opheelia says:

    @losing (37): I get what you’re saying.

    But.

    My system of belief in this respect relies on various combinations of the following statement:

    (Person) did a wonderful thing for society by doing (thing). However, (person) also did a terrible thing when (person) did (thing).

    Usually, the wonderful thing affects a large number of people, while the terrible thing affects a much smaller number. We can be grateful for the vast community work a man has done, until he murders his wife. For me, I think we can continue to think the work was good, even if the man was evil.

    People can appreciate Wikileaks while still aggreeing that the founder is a rapist. People can agree that Polanski raped a child while still being a talented director. Talent and rapey-ness are not mutually exclusive.

    The problem comes in when people think that BECAUSE someone did something good for society that the wrongs they perpetrated against individual or small groups of people should be ignored.

  42. Léna says:

    Just have to share this conversation between two people who don’t know each other in the bus.

    “DSK wanted to reform the capitalist system so they killed him like they killed Kennedy.
    _Yeah, if that was an American woman ok, but here an African… We don’t act that way. [said by a woman from Congo]
    _Humiliating him for nothing…”

    And now my male collegue are looking for pictures of the maid on internet and making oh so funny jokes. Want to cry and kill someone :(

  43. Mounia A. says:

    @Lena : And to top it all off, 57% of French people believe DSK was framed. Merci, hein, chers concitoyens.

  44. P.GiKa says:

    I found, in French, a good article (I mean, reporting what interesting people declarations) about what Elisabeth Guigou (a former justice minister from the socialist party) and the great feminist Gisele Halimi just said: http://www.lemonde.fr/dsk/article/2011/05/18/elisabeth-guigou-evoque-la-reputation-de-dsk-gisele-halimi-fustige-l-esprit-de-clan_1523663_1522571.html
    It is so sad this is an exception.

  45. losingmyreligion says:

    Thanks Ofeelia, you’ve managed to put into words what I was thinking but incapable of conveying at three in the morning!

  46. Sheelzebub says:

    xy: Jill,“Accused rapists” – I’m not a native speaker, but is “accused rapist” the same in English as “person accused of rape”? The former sounds like a prejudgement to me.

    Oh, FFS. I await this concern about prejudgement WRT to the women in these cases, who are openly and publicly declared whores, golddiggers, and honey-pot conspirators.

    And you know? People like you would make Orwell weep.

  47. Moopaw says:

    JP

    The point of my post was about the American reaction and rape apologia expressed recently. It seems that if the person arrested is a friend of (or fits into) your idiology then the attitude is “Innocent until proven guilty, and the victim is a low life liar who asked for it”. BUT if that arrested person is an enemy of your idiology then it is time to forget the Consititution and form a lynch mob.

    Sorry I failed to make that clear.

  48. Charlotte says:

    Thanks P Gika for the link, I also find good articles in French on Rue89 and lmsi.net ., denouncing the French rape culture, and the impunity of the powerful in these matters. I am also French and I am so ashamed and angry!! I don’t understand how reasonable people – including educated women – could be so indignant about Strauss Kahn’s arrest.

    P.GiKa:
    I found, in French, a good article (I mean, reporting what interesting people declarations) about what Elisabeth Guigou (a former justice minister from the socialist party) and the great feminist Gisele Halimi just said: http://www.lemonde.fr/dsk/article/2011/05/18/elisabeth-guigou-evoque-la-reputation-de-dsk-gisele-halimi-fustige-l-esprit-de-clan_1523663_1522571.html
    It is so sad this is an exception.

  49. Alara Rogers says:

    What astounds me is the amount of doublethink that goes into this kind of rape apologism.

    Yesterday some asshole was on the radio saying he’s “skeptical” and “things don’t add up” because no one heard the woman screaming. (A female co-host did point out that it was noon, when most guests of a hotel are not there.) He repeated that he was “cynical”.

    Cynical? Really? A *cynical* person believes the word of an incredibly powerful and important man, who, if he raped someone, has every reason to lie, over a powerless woman who, if she had consensual sex with the man, has no reason to lie? A *cynical* person believes that a woman who walks into a man’s room while he’s changing is likely to agree to have sex with the fellow, a total stranger, and then cry rape about it, rather than believing that a powerful and important man might think he was entitled to sex because he’s just so important? Seriously, dude, turn in your cynic card, because it doesn’t mean what you think it does. Cynics look at the world with a pessimistic viewpoint, assume humans aren’t very good people, and think the worst of everyone, but in a case where there are two people and one of them is definitely lying, a *cynic* would assume that the person who had the most to gain from lying is probably the one doing it, that powerful people are *more* likely to try to commit crimes against the powerless rather than less likely (because they can get away with it), and that given the choice between a really complicated conspiracy theory that makes a supposed victim into a villain while letting an important person escape with their reputation clean, versus a very simple theory based on an event that happens all the time and only needs to rely on the belief that an important person was capable of being an evil shithead to be plausible…. a *cynic* is going to go with the simple, easy explanation that depends on an important person being an evil shithead.

    You don’t have to be a feminist to believe that women don’t generally have sex with not-very-attractive middle-aged men, that they just met, while they are on the job and could be fired for taking a break to have sex. You don’t have to be a feminist to believe that powerful people think they’re above the law. And you don’t have to be a feminist to recognize that the likelihood of someone reporting a crime that didn’t happen is exponentially lower than the likelihood of someone lying about a crime they committed. Strauss-Kahn doesn’t deny that sex occurred; he denies that it was rape. Well, dude, if it was sex, why the fuck is she accusing you of rape? If she was so goddamn hot to get into your pants that she’d fuck you while she was *working*, even though you are a total stranger and not particularly hot and *not* a famous celebrity that the average Jane on the street would recognize, why would she ever then accuse you of rape?

    My theory about why it’s only ever the guys who seem to be on the “good guys side” who get caught at this is that the other side, being inherently evil rather than just having a few evil opportunistic rapists working for them, is much more ruthless, and will put enormous pressure on victims to cover up the bad actions of the guys at the top. Think of what Halliburton did to the employee that was gang-raped on the job by her co-workers in Iraq. Now imagine that the employee was raped by Dick Cheney instead. Think she wouldn’t have ended up dead that very night? It’s the rapists who work for the “good guys” who don’t have a posse of evil minions running around killing people, threatening people, and putting tremendous pressure on people to keep their mouths shut, and therefore they’re the ones who get caught.

    And, if *I* can be cynical for a moment (as if I’m not already), the simplest solution to the problem of Crusading Heroes being brought down by “trouser activities” that involve raping someone is for Crusading Heroes to all be women. I have *never* heard of a powerful woman raping or coercing anyone into sex. I have barely even heard of powerful women having sex scandals. The worst it’s gotten is accusations that a powerful woman was having consensual adultery with a peer, or maybe that she is secretly a lesbian, and seriously, in comparison to rape? There is no comparison. It’s not that women are incapable of bad actions; my own city’s mayor, the first female mayor of the city (and a black woman at that) let down the side in a major way by literally stealing toys from orphans. (Seriously. She stole Target gift cards intended as donations for kids in foster care for Christmas. I’m not making this up.) (Thankfully, her replacement was also a black woman, and has worked hard thus far to keep her administration spotless. Because seriously, toys for orphans? Really, Sheila? You had to do that to us?) But, you know, stealing toys from orphans = *still* no comparison to rape. So, if you want to keep your organization absolutely clean of the taint of top-level people possibly raping someone, make all your top level people women!

    Otherwise, get over yourselves. Men commit rape. Not all men, not even most men, but enough men that if you have enough male people in the pool of “powerful important people”, some will be rapists. This should not be a shocker. You want your heroes to never ever ever turn out to be rapists, then your heroes need to be women, because rapists are really good at hiding their rapey-ness, if they’ve gotten to the point where they could become powerful.

  50. groggette says:

    Opheelia: Talent and rapey-ness are not mutually exclusive.

    Butbutbut, rapists are all pure evil worthless scum bag dredges of society! They’re certainly not my Nigel.

  51. LC says:

    Alara Rogers, you just made my day.

  52. Howard says:

    Levy knows damn well that DSK has a reputation in Paris for this kind of behaviour and that the French system often protects the elite from such accussations by mere chambermaids. France should feel shame that NYC is showing them how justice is done
    above class and race bias.

  53. Melissa says:

    Alara Rogers: What astounds me is the amount of doublethink that goes into this kind of rape apologism.Yesterday some asshole was on the radio saying he’s “skeptical” and “things don’t add up” because no one heard the woman screaming. (A female co-host did point out that it was noon, when most guests of a hotel are not there.) He repeated that he was “cynical”.Cynical? Really? A *cynical* person believes the word of an incredibly powerful and important man, who, if he raped someone, has every reason to lie, over a powerless woman who, if she had consensual sex with the man, has no reason to lie? A *cynical* person believes that a woman who walks into a man’s room while he’s changing is likely to agree to have sex with the fellow, a total stranger, and then cry rape about it, rather than believing that a powerful and important man might think he was entitled to sex because he’s just so important? Seriously, dude, turn in your cynic card, because it doesn’t mean what you think it does. Cynics look at the world with a pessimistic viewpoint, assume humans aren’t very good people, and think the worst of everyone, but in a case where there are two people and one of them is definitely lying, a *cynic* would assume that the person who had the most to gain from lying is probably the one doing it, that powerful people are *more* likely to try to commit crimes against the powerless rather than less likely (because they can get away with it), and that given the choice between a really complicated conspiracy theory that makes a supposed victim into a villain while letting an important person escape with their reputation clean, versus a very simple theory based on an event that happens all the time and only needs to rely on the belief that an important person was capable of being an evil shithead to be plausible…. a *cynic* is going to go with the simple, easy explanation that depends on an important person being an evil shithead.You don’t have to be a feminist to believe that women don’t generally have sex with not-very-attractive middle-aged men, that they just met, while they are on the job and could be fired for taking a break to have sex. You don’t have to be a feminist to believe that powerful people think they’re above the law. And you don’t have to be a feminist to recognize that the likelihood of someone reporting a crime that didn’t happen is exponentially lower than the likelihood of someone lying about a crime they committed. Strauss-Kahn doesn’t deny that sex occurred; he denies that it was rape. Well, dude, if it was sex, why the fuck is she accusing you of rape? If she was so goddamn hot to get into your pants that she’d fuck you while she was *working*, even though you are a total stranger and not particularly hot and *not* a famous celebrity that the average Jane on the street would recognize, why would she ever then accuse you of rape?My theory about why it’s only ever the guys who seem to be on the “good guys side” who get caught at this is that the other side, being inherently evil rather than just having a few evil opportunistic rapists working for them, is much more ruthless, and will put enormous pressure on victims to cover up the bad actions of the guys at the top. Think of what Halliburton did to the employee that was gang-raped on the job by her co-workers in Iraq. Now imagine that the employee was raped by Dick Cheney instead. Think she wouldn’t have ended up dead that very night? It’s the rapists who work for the “good guys” who don’t have a posse of evil minions running around killing people, threatening people, and putting tremendous pressure on people to keep their mouths shut, and therefore they’re the ones who get caught. And, if *I* can be cynical for a moment (as if I’m not already), the simplest solution to the problem of Crusading Heroes being brought down by “trouser activities” that involve raping someone is for Crusading Heroes to all be women. I have *never* heard of a powerful woman raping or coercing anyone into sex. I have barely even heard of powerful women having sex scandals. The worst it’s gotten is accusations that a powerful woman was having consensual adultery with a peer, or maybe that she is secretly a lesbian, and seriously, in comparison to rape? There is no comparison. It’s not that women are incapable of bad actions; my own city’s mayor, the first female mayor of the city (and a black woman at that) let down the side in a major way by literally stealing toys from orphans. (Seriously. She stole Target gift cards intended as donations for kids in foster care for Christmas. I’m not making this up.) (Thankfully, her replacement was also a black woman, and has worked hard thus far to keep her administration spotless. Because seriously, toys for orphans? Really, Sheila? You had to do that to us?) But, you know, stealing toys from orphans = *still* no comparison to rape. So, if you want to keep your organization absolutely clean of the taint of top-level people possibly raping someone, make all your top level people women! Otherwise, get over yourselves. Men commit rape. Not all men, not even most men, but enough men that if you have enough male people in the pool of “powerful important people”, some will be rapists. This should not be a shocker. You want your heroes to never ever ever turn out to be rapists, then your heroes need to be women, because rapists are really good at hiding their rapey-ness, if they’ve gotten to the point where they could become powerful.

    Because women can’t rape?

  54. Pingback: Media gets some things right in covering the arrest of IMF head

  55. William says:

    Levy and his ilk simplified:

    I think what all of you are forgetting here is context. Sarkozy is the bad guy here, he’s evil, he’s a racist, he’s capable of anything and Kahn was on the verge of bringing down the Beast. He probably didn’t rape this woman because Sarkozy’s party set it up, and even if they didn’t…think of what France has to lose here. Do you really think that one woman’s justice is worth damning France to more years of Sarkozy? Besides, so Kahn starts out as a rich, powerful, politically connected, well educated man and abuses the proles a bit. Isn’t that how every great socialist country starts. To the winner go the spoils, you have to break a few eggs, pick your cliche, you get the idea…right?

    /off to vomit.

  56. matlun says:

    I feel there is a bit of the classical Manichean error from the defenders here. Just because he has powerful enemies (that morally would be fully capable of setting him up) does not at all imply that he is a “good guy”.

    He might still be an evil bastard fully capable of rape.

    Personally I am going to wait for more information before forming a strong opinion in either direction.

  57. matlun says:

    And I can not see how you can get to traditional “victim blaming” here. To interpret this as some kind of “misunderstanding” (as in “she asked for it”/”she seemed to want it”) would be utterly bizarre in light of the charges. Here we have a very clear situation where we have either
    1. She is outright lying, or
    2. He is guilty as hell

    This is not a case where you can have subtleties and different “interpretations” of what happened (as could for example be argued in the Assange case).

  58. ByAssociation says:

    Melissa: Because women can’t rape?

    ARE YOU SERIOUS?! women can and do rape men as well as other women.

  59. Melissa says:

    ByAssociation: ARE YOU SERIOUS?! women can and do rape men as well as other women.

    Argue with the quoted post and the “women leaders would never do that mentality” . I agree with you.

    ByAssociation: ARE YOU SERIOUS?! women can and do rape men as well as other women.

  60. Natalia says:

    I stayed at the Sofitel when I was interviewing in NY. One person was in my room straightening up when I came back for a quick change.

    But how did you manage not to rape that person, Kristen?! I mean, they were right there and ALONE.

  61. William says:

    This is not a case where you can have subtleties and different “interpretations” of what happened (as could for example be argued in the Assange case).

    Few are, once you’ve peeled away the layers of bullshit and rape culture and all the things we call gray areas even though we know damned well they aren’t because the alternative would make it tough for us to sleep at night and look some of your friends in the eyes.

    While you’re going to wait for more information I’m going to look at an evil old man whose job it is to make an obscene amount of money and use an obscene expense account, tax free, to redistribute money in a way which defends the interests of the staggeringly wealthy in relation to nations that are often criminally poor.

    Also, as someone else has already noted, the man’s nickname is “The Great Seducer.” This is not Cassanova nor the hero of some bodice ripping pulp with a painted Fabio on the cover. Seduction is the act of not taking no for an answer and eliciting sex from people who otherwise would be unlikely to consent to sex with you. Regardless we’re talking about a poor immigrant with no horse in the French election just doing her, frankly exhausting, job. He is an ugly, small man of great wealth and power, an heir-apparent to the highest office in France, whose goddamn nickname suggests that he doesn’t take no for an answer. AND other victims are coming forward. If this is a feeding frenzy its only because sharks can get cannibalistic when one of their own is bleeding amongst the prey.

    Color me unsympathetic.

  62. LC says:

    This is not Cassanova nor the hero of some bodice ripping pulp with a painted Fabio on the cover.

    Yeah, the whole “Seduce = work past consent” has always kind of horrified me. Don Juan/Giovanni is probably the worst example of that, where the opera (and most versions of the story) have him constantly abusing power and circumstance to get women to submit to his desires. (At least in some this is considered what gets him to hell in the end, so it isn’t always considered a good thing.)

    Casanova gets something of a bum rap here, I find, since (at least according to his memoirs) his whole approach is different.

  63. PrettyAmiable says:

    ByAssociation: ARE YOU SERIOUS?! women can and do rape men as well as other women.

    ByAssociation, I think Melissa was reacting to the “men rape” line in Alara Rogers’ post. I read her comment as dripping with sarcasm.

  64. Kristen J. says:

    @Natalia,

    Yeah! That was rather nice of me wasn’t it. Where’s my cookie?

  65. Sheelzebub says:

    Kristen J.:
    @Natalia,

    Yeah!That was rather nice of me wasn’t it.Where’s my cookie?

    I’ll bake you some biscotti. ;)

  66. Alara Rogers says:

    Melissa: Because women can’t rape?

    Because no powerful female politician, CEO, head of an NGO, head of a non-profit organization, or celebrity has ever been accused of rape.

    I’m sure that as the numbers of women in power increase, that will eventually change. But right now it’s estimated that 95-99% of rapists are male, and anywhere from 1% to 5% of the population are rapists.

    So let’s use some fake numbers to illustrate here, to make it easier. Let us say that 95% of rapists are male. (That’s a pretty conservative estimate.) Let us also say that 5% of all people are rapists (that’s a pretty big number; with recidivism you can explain the “1 in 4 women are raped” figure with as few as 2% rapists.) This would mean that 4.75% of men are rapists and 0.25% of women are.

    If there are 1000 powerful people, and 800 of them are male and 200 of them are female (and this is only remotely close to real life because I included celebrities; the number would be a lot lower for women if I stuck with CEO’s, politicians, etc.), then 4.75% of the powerful men and 0.25% of the powerful women are rapists, which translates to 38 male rapists and half of a woman. You can’t be a half rapist so let’s round her up to 1.

    If there are 1000 powerful people, and 500 of them are men and 500 of them are women, then 4.75% of 500 = 23.75 (or 24) male rapists and 0.25% of 500 = 1.25 (round down because the number’s so far below 1.5, so 1) female rapist.

    If there are 1000 powerful people and we live in the Bizarro World where *none* of them are men, then 0% are male rapists and 0.25% of 1000, or 2.5, are female rapists. 3 rapists.

    So we have just gone from a scenario where there are 38 male rapists and 1 female, for 39 total, to a scenario where there are 3 rapists, total. A decrease by a factor of 13… greater than a logarithmic decrease.

    If you want to live in a world where powerful people don’t commit rape, your powerful people need to be women, because the number of women who commit rape is so much lower than the number of men who do that, assuming a normal distribution, the number of female rapists, while not zero, is so close to zero in comparison to the number you get from the men that you can almost treat it as zero.

    Or, you know, you could have severe consequences for rape, that are actually enacted against rapists rather than giving them all slaps on the wrist or winks and nudges. Bet then the powerful guys would think twice about raping, if they felt they stood to lose their power and authority. But if the work of these Crusaders for Justice is so, so important that you can’t take the risk of a little rape accusation messing up their So Very Important work, you need female Crusaders for Justice, because women are almost never accused of rape due to the fact that they almost never commit it. (Every *other* criminal act, yes, although in lower proportions than men. Women aren’t better people than men. They just are physically not designed to be able to easily obtain orgasms by forcing sex on unwilling partners. It’s not that they can’t, it’s that it’s not easy, so they’re more likely to turn to a non-sexual way to get their enjoyment of victimizing others. Also, our society doesn’t tell them constantly that it’s sexy and fun to force sex on someone else and that that person secretly wants you to.)

  67. JDP says:

    Worth pointing out that Marine Le Pen is pretty psyched about the National Front’s newfound power as the opposition party to beat, and is already claiming that she’s going to put huge amounts of pressure on Sarkozy’s government to enact a lot of really unpleasant racist and Islamophobic policy and legislation.

    There needs to be room for a criminal investigation and trial that doesn’t make allowances for DSK’s political influence. At the same time, there needs to be room to call out the politicians who have cynically exploited this situation in order to push a socially-regressive political agenda in France.

  68. julia says:

    Thanks for posting this! It has been hard to find anything from a feminist perspective on the blogs. As if this were nothing, as if a man doesn’t rape a woman every minute.

    On Portland IMC, supposedly a free speech anarchist site, there is already a post by a man saying he was framed.

    And yes, thisdoes sound like Assange and Bill Clinton and how many others can we name?

  69. julia says:

    Bernard-Henri Levy was on Portland Oregon’s only independent radio station KBOO in 2008 and treated like royalty. Of course, it was a men’s show…..

    Do we ever ask a man who was robbed at gunpoint: ‘You were walking down the street – alone? And you had your WALLET with you? Well, what do you expect?

  70. rebelgirl1959 says:

    Thankyou. Sincerely.

    marnijane32:
    I’m not certain if this is the appropriate time to point this out, but in the course of reading this i noticed the levy piece sounds suspiciously like all of what i read defending assange. Suddenly that group of defenders believe perfectly well that kahn could commit a rape (or multiple). The difference? One’s a hero to them, one they already didn’t like. It’s kind of amazing really. And by amazing i of course mean horribly depressing.

  71. jayne says:

    Strauss Kahn is not an executive who raped a woman on some whimsy; he’s a pre-meditated rapist who relies on his status and privilege to keep his victims intimidated. I’m bothered by the intellectual oblige that I see being touted in this case and Assange’s — that because these men are successful and talented in one aspect of their lives, that they couldn’t possibly have disturbing behaviors that they act out on others.

    I’m curious if the victim cleaned his room prior to the attack; I’m fairly certain he observed her previously and was looking for the perfect opportunity to assault her. “Conspiracy” seems to be the new “gold digger” for victim blaming tautology, as if it were ever easy or lucrative to prosecute a rapist.

    I am tired of the media focusing on the impact to Strauss Kahn’s career — how about the victim’s? She’s being hounded by media, isn’t able to go to work, every iota of her life examined, all because a rapist chose her as his target and violated her body and autonomy. I can’t imagine she will be comfortable in certain situations ever again.

  72. William says:

    Worth pointing out that Marine Le Pen is pretty psyched about the National Front’s newfound power as the opposition party to beat, and is already claiming that she’s going to put huge amounts of pressure on Sarkozy’s government to enact a lot of really unpleasant racist and Islamophobic policy and legislation.

    I’m not sure it is worth pointing out, I’m not sure what the fuck it has to do with this discussion, I’m not sure it serves as anything other than an obfuscatory attempt to cover the rape of one woman in the name of some terrible national policy if the rapist is held accountable. If France gives Le Pen more influence than that is a story worth discussion, but its merely muddying the waters to bring it up in this context. Especially given the political conspiracy angle thats being used as a means to try and defend a rapist based on the good he won’t be able to do if he’s tried. I mean, he’s such a Good Boy™ with such a Bright Future™.

    And while we’re on the subject of bullshit, Le Pen might be a racist but every single time one of DSK’s supporters starts flogging the “poor old immigrant couldn’t pass up a payday” horse his little socialist party is exposed as being not much better than the enemies we’re supposed to be so damned afraid of. Or is it OK to deploy racism if you don’t really mean it so long as its for a good cause? “Hey, we’ll use all the misogyny and racism we need to to discredit a rape victim but at least we’re socially progressive!” kinda puts the lie to the whole social progressive stance, you know? Especially when its used to advance the political career of a rich white guy with a rape history who gets to fly first class and makes an obscene wage (tax free, because that shits for the proles, amirite?) as a banker.

    Yeah, sorry, not buying the concern troll.

  73. Hipo says:

    Hello
    This is Marine Le Pen* interview about Dominique Strauss Kahn case. It was subtitled in english recently by some french citizens
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3PWEOaC980
    I think this is worth watching…

    *a french woman politician

  74. Colin Day says:

    @Alara
    #64

    You made an interesting post, but I have a question about this:

    They [women] just are physically not designed to be able to easily obtain orgasms by forcing sex on unwilling partners.

    Do men rape to achieve orgasm?

  75. pontida says:

    Hello,
    I’m french ; I look for a comity who supports the woman who accuses Strauss-Kahn, to send money to help her to pay for good lawyers. Do you know how I can do ? Thank’s

  76. Sheera says:

    The whole thing with DSK is so disturbing on so many different levels…

  77. Shaun says:

    @Alara If we suddenly lived in a Bizarro world where women held 100% of the positions of influence in our society, I’m quite certain the fraction of women who rape would be much higher. Rape is about exercising power over another person, and you don’t need to use a penis to do that–sexual assault falls on this spectrum too.

  78. Shaun says:

    @Alara If we suddenly lived in a Bizarro world where women held 100% of the positions of influence in our society, I’m quite certain the fraction of women who rape would be much higher. Rape is about exercising power over another person, and you don’t need to use a penis to do that–sexual assault falls on this spectrum too.

  79. Levi says:

    Colin Day:
    @Alara
    #64
    You made an interesting post, but I have a question about this:

    Do men rape to achieve orgasm?

    There’s evidence suggesting that most of them don’t:

    Of the men interviewed by Groth in his work:

    55% – power rapists
    40% – anger rapists
    5% – sadistic rapists

    Elsewhere in his book: “In some cases the offender must masturbate himself in order to become erect.”

    http://www.interactivetheatre.org/resc/menwhorape.html

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