Social context for DSK apologists followed by victim-blaming

You know, this Daily Beast article discussing how sexual harassment has historically been downplayed in France had potential. Nina Sutton, a French female journalist about the same age as former IMF director and alleged sexual assailant Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK), described how in the ’70s, a male boss would approaching his female subordinate and “[grab] her breasts with both hands while making some lewd comment or depositing a kiss on her neck.”

It provides a window into why many French men of DSK’s age are dismissing the severity or legitimacy of these sexual assault allegations, writing defenses that simultaneously exemplify rape apologism and victim-blaming. I appreciate the social context, but I don’t appreciate that it takes a turn for the worse and inevitably plays into that same victim-blaming she so blatantly associates with older French men:

And the accusations were so numerous, they seemed so extravagant—I still find it hard to believe that, in 28 minutes, a 62-year-old man weighing some 224 pounds can rape three ways (per the complaint) an unwilling woman of 32, pack his suitcase and (we all know he was naked) get dressed adequately enough to appear composed to a couple of French tourists in the elevator—that it was difficult for many of us to feel sympathy for the woman who was said to have uttered them.

It’s exhausting reading all the DSK-related articles that start reasonably, just to arrive at, “Now I’m not saying she’s a liar, but [insert comment implying she is a liar].” No one should brush off allegations simply because the people involved didn’t have physical appearances that match how we think a rapist or a victim look like, or when the time frame doesn’t fit how long we think a sexual assault would last. In fact, it is mindboggling that someone even suggested that it didn’t last long enough to qualify as plausible.

This mindset runs dangerously close to mimicking the blasé attitude toward sexual harassment and assault that Sutton discussed in her article, so it’s especially concerning that she shares this feeling.


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