Sisterhood Blog

In the DSK Case, a Silver Lining?

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share
Getty Images
Strauss-Kahn, after being released from house arrest, with his wife, the journalist Anne Sinclair.

The sexual assault case against the former I.M.F. chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn seems to have all but unraveled. The credibility of the hotel chambermaid who accused DSK of forcing her to perform oral sex and attempting to rape her has been called into question by the defense team, which says that the accuser has been inconsistent in her account of the alleged assault, spoke some damning words to her boyfriend after the incident, and lied on her asylum application. The Manhattan District Attorney’s office is said to be considering dropping the case.

While we still don’t know what went on that afternoon — John Eligonin in The New York Times goes through three possible scenarios based on the evidence — we do know that DSK has a history of being a lothario and there is still something fishy about what happened in his luxury hotel suite, even if it wasn’t outright assault.

But the fact that there is a big chance DSK will walk away from these charges does not mean that this case has been a total loss for the way sexual violence is spoken about and acted upon overall.

In France this case is being seen as a watershed moment, as reported by The New York Times, and French women who were previously hesitant to report harassment and assault are starting to speak up. This is an important shift considering that France ranked 46th in a recent report on gender equality from the World Economic Forum, below Kazakhstan and Jamaica, and French government surveys conclude that only 10% of the nation’s rape victims of press charges. One junior minister who allegedly insisted of giving female colleagues foot massages, which then turned into groping was forced recently to resign.

And perhaps more importantly, the novelist Tristane Banon has now decided to file charges against DSK, whom she says attempted to rape her back in 2003. Many are speculating that such charges will cramp his plans for a political comeback that he may try to make, should the case in New York get dropped. Even if nothing happens with the Banon charges, the fact that the writer is pressing them now, eight years later, is a powerful symbol in a society that has been so accommodating of the wide-range in which men express their sexual appetites.

Another positive outcome of the case is the replacement of DSK with Christine Lagarde as the new managing director of the IMF. Lagarde is the first-ever woman to lead the organization since its founding in 1944, and vows to introduce more diversity in terms of gender, background and culture.

The I.M.F. under DSK had a reputation as a exclusive boys club, where a blind eye was turned towards sexual harassment. But now that seems primed to change.

And in New York, the fact that the D.A. took so very seriously the accusations of an immigrant maid against a very powerful man makes a strong statement on how accusations of sexual assault can and should be taken. As the A.P. pointed out, hotel maids are particularly vulnerable to sexual harassment and assault in the workplace, though, due to fears over losing their job and immigration status, they are often hesitant to speak up. But perhaps now, with this case behind them, they will be less reluctant to do so.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Sexual Assault, France, Dominique Strauss-Kahn

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • The eggplant is beloved in Israel. So why do Americans keep giving it a bad rap? With this new recipe, Vered Guttman sets out to defend the honor of her favorite vegetable.
  • “KlezKamp has always been a crazy quilt of gay and straight, religious and nonreligious, Jewish and gentile.” Why is the klezmer festival shutting down now?
  • “You can plagiarize the Bible, can’t you?” Jill Sobule says when asked how she went about writing the lyrics for a new 'Yentl' adaptation. “A couple of the songs I completely stole." Share this with the theater-lovers in your life!
  • Will Americans who served in the Israeli army during the Gaza operation face war crimes charges when they get back home?
  • Talk about a fashion faux pas. What was Zara thinking with the concentration camp look?
  • “The Black community was resistant to the Jewish community coming into the neighborhood — at first.” Watch this video about how a group of gardeners is rebuilding trust between African-Americans and Jews in Detroit.
  • "I am a Jewish woman married to a non-Jewish man who was raised Catholic, but now considers himself a “common-law Jew.” We are raising our two young children as Jews. My husband's parents are still semi-practicing Catholics. When we go over to either of their homes, they bow their heads, often hold hands, and say grace before meals. This is an especially awkward time for me, as I'm uncomfortable participating in a non-Jewish religious ritual, but don't want his family to think I'm ungrateful. It's becoming especially vexing to me now that my oldest son is 7. What's the best way to handle this situation?" http://jd.fo/b4ucX What would you do?
  • Maybe he was trying to give her a "schtickle of fluoride"...
  • It's all fun, fun, fun, until her dad takes the T-Bird away for Shabbos.
  • "Like many Jewish people around the world, I observed Shabbat this weekend. I didn’t light candles or recite Hebrew prayers; I didn’t eat challah or matzoh ball soup or brisket. I spent my Shabbat marching for justice for Eric Garner of Staten Island, Michael Brown of Ferguson, and all victims of police brutality."
  • Happy #NationalDogDay! To celebrate, here's a little something from our archives:
  • A Jewish couple was attacked on Monday night in New York City's Upper East Side. According to police, the attackers flew Palestinian flags.
  • "If the only thing viewers knew about the Jews was what they saw on The Simpsons they — and we — would be well served." What's your favorite Simpsons' moment?
  • "One uncle of mine said, 'I came to America after World War II and I hitchhiked.' And Robin said, 'I waited until there was a 747 and a kosher meal.'" Watch Billy Crystal's moving tribute to Robin Williams at last night's #Emmys:
  • "Americans are much more focused on the long term and on the end goal which is ending the violence, and peace. It’s a matter of zooming out rather than debating the day to day.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.