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May 18, 2011

Time: More Women Say Strauss-Kahn Assaulted Or Tried To Rape Them

A history of rape, and no one cared?

Well, it's France.

A Paris attorney who specializes in defending victims of sexual violence, who didn't want to be named, says he has "an entire pile of complaints" from women who say they were attacked by Strauss-Kahn. Like Pierrat, he says last weekend's news evoked déjà vu. And like Pierrat, he says he has a consistency of accusations against Strauss-Kahn. "It's all so similar," he says. "The lock thrown on the door, the pulled or ripped undergarments, the physical force that turned violent as resistance mounted, all of it.["]

There are named accusers, too, standing behind their complaints, and attorneys who are willing to state their own names, though the clients making the charges remain anonymous. I just selected that one quote as representative -- and it had the "pile of complaints" quote.

France's culture, the article says, writes off a lot of behavior that would be considered in the Anglo-American world to be borderline menacing and assaulting -- not rape, but the knocking on that door -- as some kind of boys-will-be-boys seduction.

Then there is the French gender double standard — and the cult of what the French call the seducteur, the charmer, the operator. "It's not just that the word of a woman doesn't necessarily have the same weight as that of a man in many situations," says Rokhaya Diallo, president of Les Indivisibles, an association that promotes diversity in France. "It's that there's still this enduring attitude that seduction, conquests, affairs and flings by men is somehow O.K., even sort of admirable, while women who complain of sexual aggression are either making it up, or just having buyer's regret. Clear sexual violence is taken seriously and punished, but this wider tolerance of male conquest turns the other aspects of aggression gray in the minds of many people. Which I suppose is one reason people don't seem surprised to learn of Strauss-Kahn being caught in a sex scandal. His reputation led people to assume he'd be caught up in one sooner or later. The real debate is whether it involved sexual violence or not."

There is a plausible defense -- this is one of the few guys who can claim he has people out to accuse him of rape for political reasons, and not be laughed out of the room -- but the guy sure does seem to have "misunderstandings" with women a lot.

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posted by Ace at 08:34 PM

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