On The Strauss Kahn Affair!

IMF Director Dominique Strauss Khan and High Powered Lawyer Ben Brafman


 A Reflection on Racism, Sexism, Power and Privilege

As people around the world struggle to make sense of the rape charge against Dominique Strauss Khan, the rich suave Frenchman who is one of the most powerful men in the world, the contemptuous stare on Micah Brzezinski’s face as Joe Scarborough and the other guys assembled on “Morning Joe” attempted to explain the predatory sexual behavior of powerful men who risk everything for sexual conquests, signaled both confusion and disgust.  If she wanted to prove that the smartest men can behave like the proverbial dog on the railroad track who lost his head over a little piece of tail, on this particular morning she had a cornucopia of choices, and a plethora of convincing evidence to make her case.

Former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger just confessed that he fathered a child with a member of their household staff and concealed it for the last ten years. Republican Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich – once the most powerful man on Capitol Hill – led an impeachment and public flagellation of Bill Clinton for getting his knob polished by a brazen intern in the Oval Office, while he was regularly getting his polished by a campaign worker in his car – yet he was also married at the time. Furthermore Newt has the chutzpah to say his love for country made him do it…and is parading the shameless home wrecking hussy around as the new Mrs. Gingrich, a union he now assures us is blessed of God.

Then there is the sad spectacle of John Edwards, who might have made a splendid President…had he not fathered a child by a campaign photographer!  Nevada Senator John Ensign has fallen from grace and quit the Senate over a sexual Scandal…and Congressman Paul Stanley, the shirtless sensation from upstate New York, has fled from the House of Representatives when he was busted soliciting sexual favors online!  Except for Slick Willie Clinton and Johnny Boy all of these jokers are Republicans…the Party that never tires of lecturing the rest of us on matters of sexual morality!  The Gods never blew breath in a more shameless bunch of hypocrites.

Yet none of the home grown Lotharios can match the scandalous and apparently criminal antics of Monsieur Dominique Strauss-Khan, who was up until a day ago the leading contender for the Presidency of France.  As the head of the International Monetary Fund, Mr. Khan is one of the most powerful men in the world!  And according to Ms. Tiffany Williams, these are the types of men who are most likely to sexually assault women like the African women Strauss-Khan is accused of sexually abusing: poor, powerless, non-white, immigrant.

Although she studies this phenomenon Ms. Williams is clearly taken aback about all of the sympathy being expended on Strauss-Khan.  In a piece in the Huffington Post she observes:

No one is talking about the countless other household and hotel workers who have endured sexual harassment and assault at the hands of wealthy (or even middle-class) men around the world. Why? Perhaps because it’s supposed to be a fact of life that poor women’s bodies are collateral damage of war, prizes for global accomplishment, or simply a means to an end. Women who are household workers or “servants” are even more vulnerable to dehumanizing sexual assault than others because their relationships are inherently unequal to their employers. We don’t have scientific studies of the relative risks, but we have hundreds of testimonies of household workers who have been trafficked, exploited, and assaulted, and our common sense that tells us there are many more out there.”

Ms. Williams, who regularly studies this problem, observations come as no surprise to me. I saw this as a case containing elements of racism, sexism, power and privilege from jump street!  The sad truth is that had this happened to this chamber maid in her native francophone African country, where Frenchmen still strut around like overlords acting like masters of all they survey; chances are nothing would have happened to her abuser if he were rich, white and French.  If this had happened in many other third world countries there is no way they would arrest and jail a European of Strauss-Khan’s status.  Even a French female novelist says she was the victim of a sexual assault by Monsieur Strauss Khan, but her mother advised her against filing charges against so powerful a man.

Fortunately for the maid and unfortunately for the millionaire it happened in Manhattan!  And rich white political superstar or not…this arrogant Frenchie’s ass is sitting on the hot seat at Riker’s Island under suicide watch.  There is something of a self-fulfilling prophecy about this bizarre incident; Dominique Strauss-Khan predicted that the Sitting President of France, Monsieur Sarkozy, would try to frame him with a false rape charge!  This leads me to believe that he suspected that if he looked like he was going to win the Presidential election some women he had abused would step forward and accuse him.

Why else would someone in his position make such an outlandish charge?  Given the actions of the New York District Attorney, and the Judge’s decision to hold Monsieur Strauss Khan in jail, I am inclined to believe the maid.  But this is America and therefore from a legal standpoint he is assumed to be innocent until a court proves him guilty.  I shall be watching these proceedings like a hawk!

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