Rapists are not womanizers. Rapists are criminals.

A statue of Lady Justice in France. She has a law book, the scales of justice, and a big-ass sword.

The other day, a French politician and IMF heavy-weight whose name I had never once heard prior to recent events was accused of attempting to rape the maid in his New York hotel room. He of course denies it, and a handful of mentally deficient misogynists have attempted to defend the great man’s honor in the face of the scurrilous attacks of a lowly chambermaid and an American press hungry for blood.

Now, let’s be honest: None of this is surprising. Rape happens all the time. Powerful men abuse their power to rape the powerless all the time. Powerful men are supported by other powerful people who can’t bear the idea that one of their fellows might be considered a criminal when in fact that bitch is a liar — all the time. And the French like to dump on Americans. (That part is mutual, at least).

But because French politicians are famous for having mistresses (note: this assumes “politician” = “male”) and the French are famous for not seeming to mind, and possibly also because our own political landscape has recently been littered with tales of the marital infidelities of politicians (Ensign, Gingrich, Schwarzenegger, probably some dudes I’m forgetting right now) — the tale of a French man who apparently has something of a history of being a rapist (wanna-be and successful) has gotten caught up in a discussion about privacy and media intrusiveness and “sexual peccadillos.”

And oh my God. Oh my God! Infidelity and sexual assault are not even remotely in the same moral ballpark!

If you cheat on your spouse — you are a very bad spouse.

IMO, though I’m American. Apparently in France, when men have affairs, it’s sign of a healthy libido. So ok: If you have affairs, you are, at the very worst, disloyal, dishonest and no one to whom I would ever want to be married. In France, you’re the guy down the street. (One wonders how “the French” feel about women who have affairs, but that discussion is well and truly beyond my ken). Either way, it’s a private matter, between three people, give or take, and unless and until your infidelity/healthy libido crashes into my life — maybe you say you were at my house when you were really in her arms, or you buy your mistress’s silence with tax dollars — it’s not my business.

If you commit sexual assault — you are a criminal.

Not only are you a criminal, you are a criminal of the most public variety. You have chosen to strip another human being of their privacy, of their agency, in order to force that person to cede control of their own body, so that you may use it as a tool for your gratification. There is nothing in the least bit private about it — you entered the public domain and did whatever the fuck you wanted with someone else’s body, because you thought you could get away with it.

Now, it is entirely possible to be both a womanizer and a rapist. Given the extramarital affair that Mr. French Politician is well-known to have conducted, as well as the apparently “open secret” that in 2002 he attempted to force himself on a writer who had come to interview him, I think it’s actually entirely possible that Mr. French Politician already was both, even before the hotel incident. Indeed, there appears to be quite a lot of evidence that he is, most certainly, both. (As I suspect Arnold Schwarzenegger is, too — hey, I’m a rape crisis counselor. I tend to believe the women).

But even if one is both, that does not make the two somehow morally equivalent, two points along a sleazy, sperm-smeared line of human weakness.

Cheating is an act of disloyalty.

Sexual assault is a crime that disregards the autonomy, humanity, and dignity of its victim, turning her or him into an object for the express use of the assailant.

One is a private matter. The other is a plague.

And ne’re the twain shall fucking meet.

Good God. How hard is that to understand?

5 Comments

  1. Tord Steiro

     /  May 19, 2011

    Firstly yes, I agree with you.

    Secondly, DSK (econospeak for Mr. French Politician) has managed to upset quite a wide range of powerful interest groups. Firstly, more than once he has blamed the current economic crisis on american bankers. Secondly, he has advocated for a more active and pronounced role for the IMF in the global financial system, including a new role for IMFs currency, special drawing rights, as a new global reserve currency. Effectively replacing the US dollar. Third, this is not the first time he demonstrates an unhelpful attitude towards women. Fourth, his idea that the IMF could recognize the PA as a member of the IMF has upset the usual suspects in Washington. Fifth, he os both feared and hated by UMP (currently rulng party in in France) supporters. Given his history with women, I would be surprised if this turns out to be a plot. Further, given the powerful enemies he has, perhaps especially in Washington, I expect he will face particulary tough times.

    Third, when French women have affairs, I guess it must be due to their husbands ‘unhealthy’ libido 😀

  2. Joaquin Murrieta

     /  May 19, 2011

    DSK is convicted as a screw-up even by his own story. At least his most current story. (His original story was, he wasn’t even there, he was having breakfast with his daughter in a restaurant; this story changed when he bethought himself of DNA testing and the computerized records of room access.)

    His current story is, the (oral) sex was consensual. Here then is the deal, according to him. He was showering in preparation to meet his daughter downstairs. He was already an hour late, after check-out time, but the powerful are not hassled. The maid comes to clean the room, and he thinks, “Ah what an excellent time to have sex with the maid, a perfect stranger!” He talks her into it, and they both agree to do it.

    If you believe that, you’ll believe anything.

    And if this is a “set-up” how did these Evil Plotters get hold of his semen? (I am assuming that it is available and will be or has been tested for DNA.)

    No no, I’m really sorry, but the most probable story is the one the maid is telling. By far.

    At trial we will discover more.

  3. What is horrifying, as Emily is pointing out, are the number of vocal – and very loud – defenders in the public eye who are rushing to this man’s defense and towards defaming an immigrant worker who by all evidence was just doing her job until the incident.

    Innocent until proven guilty is one thing. Trying to come up with a thousand excuses is another. Muddying the waters in the media isn’t helping.

    And people wonder why rape is a seriously under-reported crime? It’s because the cultural expectations – even in our society – still fall under a “Blame the victim” umbrella.

    “It’s the way a woman dresses”… even though they had rape back in the Victorian era when women were dressed from hat to foot and nary an exposed skin. What a woman wears says nothing about the mindset of the man committing the rape.
    “She shouldn’t have been there”… even though the maid was SUPPOSED to be working there doing her job and there was every sign she was ambushed. And how many other women were raped because their rapists knew them from school, or work, or church? Where should a woman go then?
    “She was asking for it.” Anyone who thinks that argument should be kicked repeatedly, because after all they asked to be kicked like an asshole should be kicked.

    I’m all for “innocent until proven guilty”. But there is too much evidence our nation’s culture still can’t handle rape, still doesn’t know how to educate our kids better to avoid it, still doesn’t know how to recognize a woman’s right to privacy isn’t just for the benefit of feminists, it’s for the benefit of everyone who gets hurt – and everyone IS hurt – when women are violated and raped and condemned.

  4. Little_Gidding

     /  May 19, 2011

    Thank you for writing this. I needed the words to pour my own rage into, and you provided.

  5. Ben

     /  May 24, 2011

    Rape is evil, there should be no question about that, why are you not interested in the woman of Saudi Arabia, who are often unable to report when they are raped. If they do they often get punished. These woman are prisoners in their own homes.They can not do anything without the permission of a male guardian no matter what age they are. They are trapped. The being force to cover their entire body besides the eyes is the least of it. Where is the outcry!?

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