[Marxism] Dominique Strauss-Kahn: so much for us to learn

Dennis Brasky dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Fri Jul 8 17:25:57 MDT 2011

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: so much for us to learn

The Strauss-Kahn case is not about winning or losing, but opening a dialogue
on rape, violence and gender

By Eve Ensler


The events unfolding in the case of Dominique
the former head of the IMF accused of sexually assaulting a hotel
chambermaid, are both surprising and surprisingly not surprising. The New
York Times first reported claims that there were serious problems with the
prosecution relating to the credibility of Strauss-Kahn's accuser, who is
originally from Guinea.

On Friday allies of the one-time French presidential hopeful welcomed this
speculation, expressing hope for his swift return to the political scene.
But the collapse of this case is not the worst thing that could happen: that
would be for us all to retreat into our corners, to retrench our polarised
positions. What is important is what we learn from this global episode, and
what dialogue it leads us to.

This is a stream of the questions running in my head all morning.

How do you fight a rape case if you have lied in your past? How do you fight
a rape case if you have been sexually active? How do you fight a rape case
as a woman who wants a future in journalism, politics, banking,
international affairs? How do you fight a rape case and ever hope to be
taken seriously again or be perceived as anything other than a raped victim?

How do you fight a rape case as a woman in places like Congo where there are
no real courts and no one is held accountable? How do you fight a rape case
as an illegal immigrant with no rights in that country?

How do you fight a rape case if you still believe rape is your fault, if you
don't even know what rape is, if you are afraid of upsetting your
boyfriend/husband, or afraid of getting him in trouble because he will be
more violent to you?

How do we get men to stop raping lesbians or independent or highly sexual
women as a "corrective act" rather than addressing the forces and powers
they are truly angry at? How do we get men to understand the impact of rape:
how the external bruises are internalised and remain for ever?

How do you speak out against rape and not be called a man hater, a gold
digger, a slut? How do you convince women to speak out when their character
is called into public question?

How do you speak out against incest or childhood sexual abuse if your mother
is sleeping with the man who is abusing you, and you know she loves that man
or will not believe you?

How do you speak out against the adored, handsome, powerful, charming
company president/caring psychotherapist/honoured history
professor/visionary film director when you risk being despised by those
around him? How do you speak out against the charismatic leader of the party
or country when to do so jeopardises the standing of the party, the country
itself, and could let the opposition take power?

How do you press charges for sexual harassment and not worry about losing
your job, or being seen as weak or unable to protect yourself or hang with
the guys and "take a joke".

When do we stop separating how we treat women from our vision of a free,
equal, just world – ie how do you call yourself a socialist, an
intellectual, a leader, a freedom fighter, an anti-apartheid, anti-racism,
pro-earth champion, and not make honouring women a central part of that

How do we create a real dialogue between men and woman about violence: what
it does, how it hurts? How do we stop saying that women who are opposed to
violence hate sex? When do we stop seeing them as the same thing?

The DSK scandal has rocked the world: it has brought into question issues of
sex, power, race, class and gender. It is not simply a matter of winning or
losing this particular case. The stakes are much higher. This case is a
defining moment, a signifier of the direction we move in – towards
transformation or more abuse and loss.

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