josh rosner

Posts Tagged ‘Dominique Strauss-Kahn’


In Australian Culture and Society on August 24, 2011 at 10:41 pm

Feminism has been a long struggle aimed at establishing political, economic and social equality for women. It is a struggle that is far from over. Pernicious and ingrained sexism can be found all over Australian society, and in many other western liberal democracies. There are still countries in the world where women have no rights at all. It must end. It really should have ended a long time ago.

Unfortunately, since Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s arrest on 14 May on charges of raping a female housekeeper at New York’s Sofitel Hotel, a number of prominent feminists, with the help of a compliant media, have done little to advance the cause of feminism.

I strongly support freedom of speech and I value a free press. But I also believe criminal conduct should be tried in a court of law, not in the media – social or traditional. And I also believe that if one of the goals of feminism is gender equality, then that equality should apply to both women and men, equally, under all circumstances, not just to one sex – in this case, women – when they are angry with a member of the opposite sex.

A prominent Australian feminist was one of the first to use social media to attack Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Two days after Strauss-Kahn’s arrest, she updated her Facebook status to read:

‘”It will be a pity to lose DSK (Dominique Strauss-Kahn) who has, by and large, been a safe pair of hands during the financial crisis”. Geoff Winestock, Australian Financial Review. 16 May, 2011 p.52 Ask the chambermaid at the Sofitel in New York just how safe a pair of hands he was. And the police believed her.’

Leaving aside my disbelief that feminists prefer housekeepers to be called chambermaids, this post – ‘liked’ by 12 people – garnered 8 comments. One of her ‘friends’ exclaimed:

“As women become empowered and supported, entitled men like this will not get away with it anymore…one of the triumphs of feminism.”

The following day, the same feminist again wrote on her Facebook page:

“From the Sofitel to Rikkers [sic] Island, via first class seat on Air France. How the mighty can fall.”

This status update received 11 ‘likes’ and 28 comments. The first person to comment in response wrote:

“Sounds like it was not soon enough. Another protected man indulging himself for too long.”

And another wrote:

“Another male and his unhealthy sense of entitlement exposed by the laws we have fought so hard for. I look forward to seeing how the courts will deal with this sort of abuse and the delusion that his position of power is some sort of licence.”

Naturally, emotions were running high in the days immediately after Strauss-Kahn’s arrest. Strauss-Kahn was still in the top 10 twitter trends a week after his arrest, although not the most trending topic. It’s hard for anyone to knock Justin Bieber off the number one spot. Twitter and Facebook, in particular, were the forums of choice for feminists to express their anger.

The most outrageous comment of all I read on Facebook is a clear demonstration of the untempered response of many feminists:

“I wonder how many other passengers in the First Class cabin felt a little anxious when the police turned up. I bet none of them were innocent.”

Feminists were quick to fling mud at Strauss-Kahn, condemning him to a lifetime behind bars, so certain were they of his guilt; so incapable were they of allowing even the smallest wiggle room that he might be innocent, or even, as it eventuated, that there might be more to the story. Instead, they took to social media and unleashed a torrent of visceral, hate-fueled tweets and status updates.

The media, for its part, subliminally empowered feminists to use condemning language towards Strauss-Kahn. The Associated Press, for example, ran a headline on 2 July which subtly assumed Strauss-Kahn was guilty: Strauss-Kahn Case in Danger of Collapsing.

In danger of collapsing? Really? If someone accused of a crime is innocent of that crime, where is the danger that a false accusation will collapse? There may be potential, or even a likelihood, that the case will collapse, but surely not danger. Perhaps the real danger was of justice being served.

The media were convinced of Strauss-Kahn’s guilt from the moment the story broke. And why not? He has a long record of womanising. Feminists, too, were convinced of his guilt from the beginning, and together they fuelled each other’s rhetoric.

Many decades ago I, too, was falsely accused of committing an act of violence against a women. In my much younger days I used to frequent a well-known Melbourne nightclub. One night, while dancing with friends, I was accused – very publicly – of committing an act of which I was entirely innocent. A fellow patron – a girl about my age of 18 at the time – informed the club’s management that I had jabbed her with a sharp object, which she believed to be a syringe. Suddenly the music stopped and the house lights turned on. Presumably they sought to ensure the culprit had no time to dispose of the weapon or vacate the premises. As my friends and a hundred strangers looked on, I was ordered to turn out my pockets and two security guards conducted a pat-down. Of course, they found nothing. There was nothing to find. The girl had accused the wrong person. The music began again and everyone returned to his or her drinks and dancing as if nothing had just happened.

I don’t blame the girl. She was upset and angry. But that brief moment in time undoubtedly changed the course of my life. In the weeks following the accusation I convinced myself everyone at the club was laughing at me behind my back, pointing fingers and whispering that I was the guy who had assaulted a girl. I stopped going to the club. I stopped socializing entirely. In a matter of weeks I went from being extremely extroverted to being almost debilitating introverted. Within six months I moved overseas.

On 29 June the following was posted on the Facebook Wall of the same prominent feminist:

“So what’s the skinny on Christine Lagarde? Is she part of the problem or the    solution? Can we really breathe a sigh of relief that no maids will be sexually abused in the making of this career?”

Feminism remains, of course, an incredibly important struggle. But the important battles still left to fight are doomed to fail unless feminists choose a more open and inclusive campaign; one whose aim is equality, not us versus them.

If feminists are to manifest their anger in the form of verbal mudslinging every time a man is accused of committing a crime against a woman, no doubt some of that mud will stick well before he has his day in court. They may even jeopardise the case. Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a monumental fool, but that doesn’t make him a rapist, just as his accuser being a liar doesn’t mean she wasn’t raped.

Strauss-Kahn is now a free man. But at what cost? Some of that mud will stick, perhaps for the rest of his days.