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20 Quotes About DSK That Reveal How We Think About Rape DSK Rape Case Explained in 20 Quotes 20 Quotes About DSK That Reveal How We Think About Rape DSK Rape Case Explained in 20 Quotes

20 Quotes About DSK That Reveal How We Think About Rape DSK Rape Case Explained in 20 Quotes

by Amanda Hess
July 3, 2011



It's been a month and a half since a 32-year-old hotel maid accused then-IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her in his swanky Manhattan suite. And each time a new fact trickles into the public record, commentators race to place their personal spin on the new evidence. A brief timeline of the media response to the DSK case:

MAY 15, 2011

Rape is comparable to an extramarital affair: "IMF chief and potential French presidential candidate Dominique Strauss-Kahn was just arrested for allegedly assaulting a hotel maid. This is far from the first sexual allegation concerning 'DSK,' as he is known. Relatively well known is the story of his affair with an IMF subordinate in 2008." — Pascal-Emmanual Gobry, reporter, Business Insider

MAY 16, 2011

Friends don't let friends rape: "And what I know even more is that the Strauss-Kahn I know, who has been my friend for 20 years and who will remain my friend, bears no resemblance to this monster, this caveman, this insatiable and malevolent beast now being described nearly everywhere. Charming, seductive, yes, certainly; a friend to women and, first of all, to his own woman, naturally, but this brutal and violent individual, this wild animal, this primate, obviously no, it’s absurd." — Bernard-Henri Levy, French journalist, The Daily Beast

MAY 17, 2011

If rape is outlawed, only outlaws will rape: "In life, events tend to follow patterns. People who commit crimes tend to be criminals, for example. Can anyone tell me any economists who have been convicted of violent sex crimes? Can anyone tell me of any heads of nonprofit international economic entities who have ever been charged and convicted of violent sexual crimes? Is it likely that just by chance this hotel maid found the only one in this category? Maybe Mr. Strauss-Kahn is guilty but if so, he is one of a kind, and criminals are not usually one of a kind." — Ben Stein, conservative commentator, The American Spectator

Naming the alleged victim: "Who is [Name redacted], the young lady that DSK is accused of sexually assaulting? Not the young girl whose Facebook picture was broadcast by the media . . . She who was first known by the name Ophelia is neither Senegalese, nor Ghanaian, nor Puerto Rican as first reported by multiple media outlets but it turns out she is of Guinean nationality. — Sabine Cessou, African journalist, Slate France

Justifying naming the alleged victim: "Why did we decide to publish Dominique Strauss-Kahn's accuser’s name? . . .  if this name appears rare to many of our readers, it is not the case among the people of Guinea. This woman’s surname is as common in certain parts of West Africa, as Françoise Martin in France or Jane Smith in the United States." — Editors, Slate France

Rape is comparable to an extramarital affair, part deux: "Human males have never been thought of as models of sexual restraint—and with good reason. From the moment the adolescent libido begins to boot up, boys seem to enter an ongoing state of emotional—if not literal—priapism, from which they never fully emerge. . . .  The 18th-century Moroccan ruler Moulay Ismail is said to have fathered 888 children with his 500 concubines. Genghis Khan makes Ismail look practically barren. . . . But modern-day men of power—Donald Trump, Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer, John Edwards, John Ensign, JFK, FDR, and most recently, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Dominique Strauss-Kahn—with their serial wives or serial philandering, can behave just as badly, if less prolifically." Jeffrey Kluger, senior editor, Time Magazine

MAY 18, 2011

Second time's the charm: "It ended really badly. We ended up fighting. It finished really violently . . . We fought on the floor. It wasn't a case of a couple of slaps. I kicked him, he unhooked my bra, he tried to open my jeans . . . I said the word 'rape' to scare him but it didn't seem to scare him much, which suggests he was used to it." — Tristane Banon, French journalist, in a 2007 interview reprinted in The Telegraph

Lover, not a fighter: "Dominique Strauss-Kahn has always had a reputation as a man who cares for women, and even a libertine . . . There is a vast difference between [that] reputation . . .  and the charge which he is the object, which is a serious, very serious crime or sex crime. This is something very different." — Elisabeth Guigou, French Socialist, Le Monde

MAY 19, 2011

Reputation isn't everything: "[I]t's not out of the ordinary for people to live otherwise normal lives while also secretly being violent maniacs." — Cord Jefferson, senior editor, GOOD

Beyond the facts: "I am scared for this woman.  I am scared what a trial will do to her emotional well-being.  I am scared because she is scared. . . . Stories like this scare me because I hate living in a world where women and children are raped (men also experience rape, and that is not something I’m attempting to trivialize).  I want people to talk about her healing-the stuff that happens outside of the courtroom." — Chelsea Kilpack, community blogger, Feministing

MAY 24, 2011

Extending victimhood: "The moral of the story seems to be that the true victim is DSK, and that it is his life, his pain and his plights that matters—not the woman's. And even those who have no sympathy for the erstwhile IMF director don't seem to have any for the victim: The true victim of this crime, according to Ecology Minister Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizey, is France and its image. Whether it's to profit patriotism or an accused rapist, the erasure remains." —Mounia, blogger, Feministe

JUNE 14, 2011

Victim profiling: “'She is a village girl who didn’t go to school to learn English, Greek, Portuguese, what have you,' said her older brother, 49, whose first name is Mamoudou. 'All she learned was the Koran. Can you imagine how on earth she is suffering through this ordeal?'” — Anne Barnard, Adam Nossiter, and Kirk Semple, reporters, The New York Times

JUNE 27, 2011

Bad seafood: "The lunch that Saturday afternoon, in a wood-paneled seafood restaurant eight blocks from his hotel, began less than an hour after what prosecutors have charged was his sexual attack on a 32-year-old Guinean housekeeper who came to clean his suite. . . . if one of several security cameras visible in the large restaurant captured the pair, the images of father and daughter in McCormick & Schmick's Seafood Restaurant, less than an hour after the encounter with the housekeeper, could serve as powerful circumstantial evidence. It could bolster the defense case if they laugh or appear to share a leisurely meal; it could support the prosecution if it shows the 62-year-old white-haired Frenchman looking distracted or upset." — William K. Rashbaum and John Eligon, reporters, The New York Times

Bad theory: "Both sides are looking for witnesses and security tapes to show Strauss-Kahn’s demeanor in the hours following the encounter with the maid for clues as to whether he engaged in a violent rape (the assertion by the prosecutors) or a brief, consensual rendezvous (the version apparently the defense is going to use). But all this studying of Strauss-Kahn’s behavior for clues to his guilt or innocence is bizarre . . . Looking to see whether he's happy or upset for clues as to whether he just attempted rape is posited on the notion that Strauss-Kahn is a normal person. But as Yale psychology professor Paul Bloom writes in an essay on two new books on psychopaths, the hallmark of this disorder is the absence of empathy." — Emily Yoffe, writer, Slate

JUNE 30, 2011

Maybe he was just trying to rape a prostitute: "Last month, stories were making the rounds in Europe that Strauss-Kahn’s aides were in the habit of sending prostitutes to his room when he was in hotels out of town, you know, the way an underling might thoughtfully order flowers. . . . There’s a knock on the door, a young woman enters. Strauss-Kahn expecting his hooker du jour to emerge naked from his toilette, and despite her protests he doesn’t believe that she’s not there to service him. This could be the parsimonious explanation for otherwise almost inexplicable behavior." — Robert Kuttner, co-founder and co-editor, The American Prospect

That's still rape: "[T]here is no way in which this hypothetical, twisted Abbott and Costello routine exonerates him from a charge of rape. The identity or occupation of the victim is no more evidence of Strauss-Khan's innocence or guilt than his own. Even if the victim were a sex worker, that would not justify Strauss-Khan continuing to assault her despite her refusing to give consent. The matter would be no different if this were an issue of mistaken identity. Sex workers do not relinquish their right not to be sexually assaulted merely because they have sex for money. A sex worker's right of consent is as inviolate as anyone else's. You cannot accidentally rape someone, no matter how bad your taste in food—or jokes—happens to be. — Adam Serwer, human rights journalist, The American Prospect

JULY 1, 2011

Rejoice: “It's a great joy . . . All of those who dragged him through the mud... today maybe see things a bit differently . . .  All those who speculated on his political disappearance will soon have to deal with a person free in his movements, who will be able to look the French people in the eye and whose voice will be very important in the circumstances our country is in.” — Jean-Marie Le Guen, French public health expert, France Info

Strauss-Kahn for president: “I got the impression that he could came back into the presidential race . . . And it's a bit curious because there were quite a few lips loosened [about Strauss-Kahn], journalists who said they were strongly flirted with. . . . So people will say, it's strong flirting, and in the end not so bad and doesn't make him a rapist or someone aggressive. I think it will be forgotten. And France is perfectly capable of accepting his candidacy if he wanted to run.” — Olivia Cattan, French feminist, The Daily Beast

Bitches are crazy: "And the unfolding case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn just reinforces my theory that men are no picnic but women are fucking CRAZY." — Bret Easton Ellis, novelist, Twitter

The perfect victim: "Given the realities of the U.S. criminal justice system, the prosecution may be unable to salvage this case. But just because that system fails victims on the regular doesn't mean we have to, too. French commentators are already calling for DSK to jump back into the country's presidential race and ride a wave of sympathy into office. Really, the stakes are greater than even that political prize. If we accept the narrative that only perfect women are raped, we risk sacrificing justice not only for this woman, but for victims of sexual assault everywhere. After all, nobody's perfect." —Jaclyn Friedman, feminist writer, GOOD

Photo via flickr user smoMashup_, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0