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As I am sure most of you have heard by now, in what is yet another shining example of the rich and ruling elite getting away with physically assaulting and then emotionally destroying a female, the charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn were dismissed last week. I wish I could say I was surprised but sadly I was not. I knew how this would all play out, but that doesn't change the complete disgust I feel over this case.
So many layers of betrayal, perversion of the system, validation of hurtful memes...it has been very difficult for me to gather my thoughts enough so I can even explain what this situation means to me, and by extension what it means for all women.
The first click came when the news about this incident broke. One click for feeling the pain of a woman who has been brutalized, but an even bigger click for me was the circumstances. I knew right away how this would play out. I knew why this disgusting little man did what he did in that hotel room. He did it because he knew he could, he knew that he would get away with it, and he was right.
When the details first emerged I think it was probably the only time we heard about the situation strictly from the victim's perspective. Once the legal team of Strauss-Kahn had time to do their magic, you couldn't find an story about this case that didn't include allegations about the victim's credibility. But the details as they emerged during the first few days were as follows:
Dominique Strauss-Kahn, then head of the IMF, sexually assaulted a maid in his hotel room.
This maid was found by co-workers in a distraught state and they encouraged her to come forward and report the assault.
Dominique Strauss-Kahn tried to get on a plane and leave the country.
Seems pretty straight forward to me. Ah, but this purity didn't last long.
I followed the story, waiting for he inevitable victim blaming and reputation smearing that I knew was coming. One of the world's most powerful men is accused of rape by a mere immigrant maid.....no way would this be allowed to happen.
I remember when the story broke that the charges were in question due to "credibility issues". The allegations against the victim - she had "lied" about a previous sexual assault and she had a drug dealing boyfriend (this is how the story was originally reported). At the same time that these details came out it was announced that Strauss-Kahn was being released from house arrest and was just free on bond awaiting trial. I was sitting in an airport at the time and it was hard to follow the news on the TV in the waiting room, but I moved closer to try to hear the details. I sat next to another woman who was waiting for her flight. We both had a look of shock on our faces. A shared click with a random stranger in an airport. I was just so livid. The excuses were so flimsy and unrelated to the case! The victim's lawyer gave a statement, a very forceful one, detailing the fact that there was PHYSICAL evidence of an assault and that these smear tactics were completely egregious. Yet it was working.
Details about Strauss-Kahn's reputation had also emerged by now, but somehow these were made to seem unimportant and irrelevant to this case but the character of the victim was guiding this case. The fact that Strauss-Kahn had a history of sexual aggression and was known for his boorish sexist behavior seemed like a charming footnote in many stories. "The Great Seducer". Barf
Tristane Banon--a French journalist; daughter of Anne Mansouret, one of Strauss-Kahn's fellow Socialist Party officials; and goddaughter of Brigitte Guillemette, Strauss-Kahn's second wife--has accused Strauss-Kahn of trying to rape her. In February 2007, a French television program aired Banon's recounting of Strauss-Kahn's attempts to take off her jeans and bra when she met with him to conduct an interview for a book she was writing.
According to Britain's Guardian, "Banon allegedly described him as a 'rutting chimpanzee' and described how she was forced to fight him off. 'It finished badly...very violently...I kicked him,' Banon said. 'When we were fighting, I mentioned the word 'rape' to make him afraid, but it didn't have any effect. I managed to get out.'"
Banon, who was 22 years old when the alleged attack occurred, didn't press charges at the time, explaining, "I didn't want to be known to the end of my days as the girl who had a problem with the politician." In the wake of Diallo's accusations against Strauss-Kahn, Banon changed her mind. According to Banon's lawyer, "She is in a fighting mood. She isn't ready to let this drop. But she feels sorry for what has happened to Nafissatou Diallo, because she also believed her."
Not a surprise at all, but the click was still there. All the discussion of the alleged credibility issue with victim about a story unrelated to this case. This appears to be the main factor in the DA's decision not to pursue the charges (in other words, the main bullshit excuse they are using to cover the real reason). The real reasons:
Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a powerful man. A member of the ruling class for sure.
Nafissatou Diallo is a maid.
He is white. She is black. He is wealthy. She is not.
It is worth noting that there are a few possibilities for bringing this man to justice, although I am not putting too much faith into any of them actually working at this point. As it stands, he has taken a bit of a hit to his career path but by no means is he suffering in any way. Today there is hearing on the appeal filed by the defendant's lawyer challenging the decision not to appoint a special prosecutor in this case. The defendant has also filed a civil lawsuit against Strauss-Kahn, but there has also been talk that he plans to file a civil lawsuit against her for emotional damages and false claims (ugh!).
Cases like this are just an ugly reminder of two things - one, that as women we are always vulnerable to sexual assault and then a second assault on our character and judgment if we chose to report it. And two, the ruling class can get away with damn near anything.