French women attack misogyny in Strauss-Kahn case

PARIS Sat May 21, 2011 1:15pm EDT

PARIS (Reuters) - Angry French feminists say local media have been awash with male chauvinist comments since the arrest of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges he attempted to rape a New York hotel maid.

Feminist organizations published a petition saying they were "stunned by the daily flood of misogynist comments by public figures" since the French former finance minister was detained. He denies the charges and is currently on bail.

In their statement, the feminists said friends and allies of Strauss-Kahn had downplayed the plight of the alleged victim in their rush to defend the Socialist, who until his fall was well placed to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 elections.

The lawyer for the maid said his client was a 32-year-old widow from the West African nation of Guinea, who has a daughter aged 15.

"We do not know what happened in New York Saturday May 14, but we know what has been happening in France in the past week. We are witnessing a sudden rise of sexist and reactionary reflexes, so quick to surface among part of the French elite," the groups said in a statement on the website of Le Monde.

Organised by groups including "Osez le feminisme" and "La Barbe," the petition was signed by more than a 1,000 women, including TV journalist Audrey Pulvar, whose partner Arnaud Montebourg is bidding to be the Socialist candidate next year.

"There is a certain impunity in France when it comes to this kind of uninhibited sexism," the groups said.

The groups said that 75,000 women were raped in France every year and that sexist language in public tended to minimise the gravity of crime, turning it into a vague and more or less acceptable act.

The groups referred to specific statements, including one by former culture minister and Strauss-Kahn ally Jack Lang, who said Strauss-Kahn should have been released on bail earlier, considering that "nobody has died."

Journalist Jean-Franois Kahn, no relation, denied rape had taken place and dismissed the affair as "troussage de domestique," a phrase that evokes a master having non-consensual sex with a servant.

A friend of Strauss-Kahn and his journalist wife Anne Sinclair, Kahn later apologised for the remark.

"This kind of language generates an intolerable confusion between sexual freedom and violence toward women. Violent acts, rape, attempted rape and harassment are all the mark of men's desire to dominate women's bodies," the feminist groups said.

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Comments (16)
I’m an American and legal French resident who has e-accused the French of being blind to the difference between consentual sex and abuse of power. Obviously there are many French women (any Frenchmen out there?) that know the difference and are speaking out. I found this article to be the best I have read, to date, on the subject of the eternal abuse of women by reletively powerful men. // Jean Clelland-Morin

May 21, 2011 2:34pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
Informative wrote:
These overtly abusive elite have come to believe that they can do whatever they please because everything will always be handled in a crooked court with a dirty judge who will side with the rich and powerful. This is why dark times are ahead for the world because the meek will inherit the earth only after they pick up their pitchforks torches and guns and cleanse the world of the pigs that now sit in power.

May 21, 2011 2:54pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
BeckyinMO wrote:
God bless America. By most accounts, this rapist should have been behind bars a long time ago. Here, all men are created equal and one of the most powerful men in the world is subject to the same laws as everyone else.

And where else could an immigrant worker be given the rights she deserves to bring him to justice? I hope the creep rots in prison.

May 21, 2011 3:25pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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