Monday 16 May 2011

Sexism, cover-ups and a 'respectful silence'

From Lindsey German's article 'Dominique Strauss-Khan, rape and the power to wreck lives':

'Even Strauss-Kahn’s allies told the Guardian that he was ‘a well-known seducer’ but that the rape charges were ‘far-fetched and unlikely’. However it seems that what is rather more ‘far-fetched and unlikely’ is that Strauss-Kahn has been caught and charged at all. That the word of a chambermaid has been taken against his.

It remains to be seen whether he will be convicted. But it is clear that the great and the good of French society were content to allow a man who behaved like this to remain at large. Far from his sexual behaviour coming under scrutiny, it was deemed acceptable enough in his circles.'

Quite. It's not Strauss-Khan's own behaviour that should be the greatest concern. The real scandal is that someone who evidently has this kind of 'sex pest' reputation - who has 'form' - is tolerated.

The story reveals something corrosive and repellent about the culture in these elite circles: the casual acceptance of unacceptable behaviour, the reluctance to challenge a respected leader, the maintenance of a respectful silence. These, remember, are mainly politicians who regard themselves as belonging to the left. In 2011 you might expect less tolerance of such individuals - and more regard for women's dignity and rights.


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