Two months now that the sex assault case involving the ex-Chief of the IMF Dominique Strauss-Khan is ongoing, augmented since last week with a new affair where a young french journalist, Tristane Banon, accuses him as well of trying to rape her. It took Nafissatou Diallo to put charges on DSK for Tristane Banon, who claims since 2003 to be a victim of DSK, to get over her fear to not be believed.
Besides these criminal charges, the french public scene is full of stories involving DSK and women: he is depicted by most of the people that were in contact with him as a “predator” with exuberant sexual behaviour, that knows no real limit and does not really understand women’s refusal. Those who were not raped by DSK anyway talk about his manner of heavily insisting, to the point that some of them say explicitely they were so afraid to be left alone in a room with him they made everything to avoid him. An internal note in the IMF kindly advises female staff to avoid as much as possible to stay alone with him in an office.
If only trials can tell us truth about these affairs, it is already possible to draw a first quick conclusion: in the worst case, DSK relation to women is criminal, in the best case it is “just” pathologic. In both cases, DSK relation to women perfectly symbolizes the darkest side of machism: reducing women to primitive archetypes, and objectifying them in the men-women relations. For DSK and the likes, women can only be of three types:
- The Hooker: Nafissatou Diallo… and any woman, by default
For DSK, the world is like a giant brothel: he just has to “pick up” the hooker he wants and “pay” for that… Women are believed disposable by default, and the interaction with them is essentially sexual. No real moral consideration limits him in his “choice”: they can be his friends’ wives, his assistants, the staff of palaces he visits, relatives of his ex-wife, etc. The personnality of the woman never really enters into account: although he had hundreds of sex affairs with women around him, he does not seem to have any long term extra-conjugal affair, involving if not feelings, something that would look like a person-to-person intimacy: women are consumers’ good, uninteresting once the sexual encounter took place. As a “client”, he uses his personnal, intellectual, political and economical power to convince them to accept his sexual proposals. As a proeminent personnality, he knows how to use the psychological impact he makes on women inferior to him on the “social ladder”. As sexual employees, they “cannot” really refuse to provide him the service he is requesting. Getting them to have sex with him only needs him to find the good “payement” mode, and sometimes the suitable pressure mode.Nafissatou Diallo, the cleaning lady of the Sofitel, is just one of the many he wanted when he saw her. Without any “seduction ritual”, it went directly into a sexual interaction, whether it was forced or not. She was there, she was to be available. And after all, in order to prove his unguiltiness, isn’t his strategy simply to try to convince the jury that “anyway, this woman is a hooker”? (Letting aside the fact that even professional prostitutes can be raped…).
- The Witch: Tristane Banon
Given the high social position of DSK, his wealth, his intellectual capacities, and even his physical force, very few seem to “resist” to him. The sexual encounter generally quickly takes place, and once it is finished, he can go back to his business. Thus, very few women have the strenghth to say no to DSK, and if they do so, even fewer are strong enough to repeat “No” again and again as he repeatedly insists. Tristane Banon is one of these few. Maybe is it because she is journalist and writer and thus she is literate enough to not be vulnerable the intellectual domination he can use on less educated women; maybe is it because her mother is herself a politician (in the same party than DSK) that made her harder to scare with the fact he’s a politician; maybe it is because her godmother is DSK ex-wife, enabling her to see in him a simple man to whom she can say “no” rather than the powerful figure. Anyway, the refusal of a woman seems to be difficult to understand for him. Since the moment Tristane Banon put charges on him, his entourage deploy their strange strategy to discredit her: they spread the word that she is mad, unstable, she is a liar, she invents things. In one word: a woman who says no to DSK is simply a woman out of her mind. As a free minded woman, Tristane Banon bothers DSK because she was not impressible enough, not only for her to sleep with him, but also for her to keep silent about it. She refuses to be one of these nice ‘hookers’, who do what they have to do and let him go back to his business. For DSK, Tristane Banon and women like her strong enough to firmly say no to him are “witches”, the women who do not submit to the natural order of Nature, where women give and men take. Defying this “natural establishment” is viewed as an heretic act, a crime of subversivity. The same way that during the Middle-Age the inquisitors that were convicting women of being witches were accusing them of proceeding to satanic celebrations where ‘immoral’ sex acts were performed, DSK entourage try to spread the word about a nymphomaniac, sexually disturbed Tristane Banon. (Letting aside the fact that even a mentally unstable woman can be raped)
- The Good Wife: Anne Sinclair
As much as a man can objectify women and disinterest from them once he had sex with, the presence of a ‘good wife’ is of primordial importance to a man like DSK: it represents the only little point of mental and emotionnal stability in his relations with women. But here again we are in a symbolically commercial transaction: the relation does not build on trust and respect, since the cheating is implicitely “part of the game”, but on mutual benefit. For DSK, Anne Sinclair is rich, she’s part of his political career, she’s an ally, she is for him a family, meaning a stable and reliable entity of his fluctuent life. On the other side, Anne Sinclair benefits from this situation in sense that she lives her political ambitions through him, as well as by taking the continuous role of the cheated wife, she is the “good one”; she “invests” in DSK to achieve what she knows she can’t make directly herself due to the sexism of the society (the same way Hillary Clinton “invested” in Bill Clinton). She knows about his relations with other women, but not only she makes as if she didn’t know to not lose all she built with him and the social prestige that goes with it, but also she takes secretely pleasure in being “The One”, the woman that remains here, while all others, regardless of how young, beautiful, smart they can be, are only temporary. A woman who dominates all other women through her husband.
The DSK-like machism trilogy (the Hooker, the Witch and the Good Wife), embodied as well by him as by all his entourage that participate to sustain this system (in particular his wife Anne Sinclair), it’s maybe the biggest harm DSK made to women in general: offering one of the sickest models of men-women relations of a socially successful men. If the media coverage of the Sofitel case would allow at least to deconstruct this sexist model in men’s and women’s minds, it would be indeniably a huge step forward in the feminine cause.