Tag Archives: Dominique Strauss Kahn

Ellis and Nietzsche: let them sniff chairs

6 Jul

That ageing provocateur Bob Ellis, pictured here showing what Coke can really do to you, wrote a truly awful piece on the Drum yesterday to which on principle I will not link, basically arguing that feminism is responsible for the downfall by sex of many famous men from Oscar Wilde (???) to Dominique Strauss Kahn.

Heck, I have to link, it isn’t fair to talk about it otherwise.

The piece was almost universally howled down, and the ABC shut off the comments option at around three hundred and something, only the day after it was published.

What Ellis’s pleas for a more understanding and forgiving attitude to male desire did make me ponder, is how easily male public figures are brought down by their sexual activities, whether they’re caught playing away, sniffing chairs, exiting gay bars or cavorting in their underpants when one would wish them to be fully dressed. Though for Ellis to claim this has much to do with feminism is contestable, as there weren’t a lot of feminists braying for Oscar Wilde’s scalp, for example.

Usually these public figures are brought down by their male enemies who might very well employ some appropriate feminist rhetoric to make them look good and properly concerned about the women allegedly injured in the blokes’ peccadilloes (except in the case of Oscar Wilde and any other man brought undone by participation in gay sex or rumours of gay sex.)

What this says is that as a society we are apparently very uptight about the morals of influential men, or more likely there are forces at work who want us to think we are.

If a man is unfaithful to his wife, how does this affect his professional performance? The answer is we don’t know. Nobody’s done the studies. We make an assumption, based on current moral values about sex, fidelity and monogamy that if he’s deceiving his wife, he’s likely deceiving everybody else. This seems to me to be a slightly insane deduction. We all know how human beings can and do categorize, especially when sexual desire is at work in them.

Was Bill Clinton’s presidential performance changed for the worse as a consequence of letting Monica puff on his cigar, for example? (No, she didn’t inhale. They found the smoke on her frock.) Do we have the  right to judge a man’s whole life (or a woman’s for that matter, but sexual disgrace doesn’t seem to befall influential women to anything like the same extent) on the strength of his sexual behaviour?

Of course I’m only talking about non criminal situations. If  an influential man is found to have acted criminally in sexual matters, then that needs to be viewed as would any other criminal behaviour.

Ellis claims that a lot of good men are cut off at the balls because feminist wowsers can’t deal with their expression of their sexuality. Men have always been at the mercy of their desires, he claims, and everybody needs to cut them some slack if they Fall. High levels of testosterone go hand in hand with high levels of achievement, so there’s bound to be trouble.

There isn’t much to take away form Bob’s rave, except that it does remind me that the society in which we live seems to have a dominant moral view of sex as at best naughty, and at worst, really scary and requiring all kinds of societal controls, including marriage and monogamy. Repression is the price we pay for civilization. Give adolescents condoms and they’ll be at it in the aisles at school.

Any public figure who transgresses the dominant sexual morality runs the risk of being terminally banished, not because they’re particularly evil, or even a little bit bad, but because they’ve given their opponents a brilliant excuse to run them out of the game, under the guise of upholding society’s moral values.

While straying from one’s chosen partner is going to cause a lot of grief, does that make it immoral? If a man in a powerful position engages in a consensual sexual encounter with a woman with less power, is that an immoral act? Who is determining our moral values at this point in our history, how are they determining them, and to what purpose?

Or is there truth in Nietzsche’s claim that:

There are systems of morals which are meant to justify their author in the eyes of other people; other systems of morals are meant to tranquilize him, and make him self-satisfied; with other systems he wants to crucify and humble himself, with others he wishes to take revenge, with others to conceal himself, with others to glorify himself and gain superiority and distinction,–this system of morals helps its author to forget, that system makes him, or something of him, forgotten, many a moralist would like to exercise power and creative arbitrariness over mankind, many another, perhaps, Kant especially, gives us to understand by his morals that “what is estimable in me, is that I know how to obey–and with you it SHALL not be otherwise than with me!” In short, systems of morals are only a sign language of the emotions.”

Whatever the answer, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s got very little to do with feminism, or even wowser feminism. Sorry, Bob. You blokes are on your own with this one.

Strauss Kahn rape case in doubt – who’s got the most credibility?

1 Jul

Excellent analysis of the issues here

Prosecutors are re-considering their position in the case against former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss Kahn, accused of the sexual assault of a hotel housekeeper in New York.

According to the New York Times, investigators have discovered “major holes” in the credibility of the woman who alleged DSK forced her to perform a sexual act against her will.

The “major holes” are apparently issues involving her asylum application; the possibility of her links to criminal activities, and a phone conversation with her fiance in which they discussed the benefits of pursuing charges against DSK. Her fiance has drug convictions, and allegedly paid some $100,00 into her bank account.

As well, investigators discovered that the information on the woman’s asylum application was not consistent with what she told them.

Strauss Kahn’s lawyers have never denied that a sexual act took place, but claim it was consensual, and that they would discredit the housekeeper’s version of events. There has been no mention of DSK offering money for the woman’s sexual services.

None of the “major holes” in the woman’s account of herself prove that her version of events in DSK’s hotel room is wrong. The case has always been about a “he said-she said” situation. Since his arrest, several other women have come forward to give details of unpleasant encounters with DSK, and his private reputation as a sexual predator has been made public.

Yet this history doesn’t seem to affect his credibility when it comes to the events of that morning.

In a he said-she said situation, it all comes down to a battle for credibility.

The power dynamics are interesting: while at first blush one could see DSK as having all the power on his side even if the sex was consensual, the consequences have been catastrophic for him, as he lost his job, and quite possibly his future as a possible French president.

Against this, the housekeeper was possibly forced into a sexual act she did not seek or want, she may also have lost her job, and her application for asylum is under serious scrutiny. In the context of her life, the consequences for her are as catastrophic as for DSK.

But he’s still wealthy.

It looks as if no one will come out of this situation unscathed including the NYPD, who are now accused by some of rushing to premature judgement.

So the morals of this he said-she said story are? If you can’t be sure it’s safe do us all a favour and keep it in your pants, chaps.

And if you’re a woman with any history, you’ve likely got little or no credibility, no matter what the truth is.

In a little footnote to these events, Strauss-Kahn’s replacement at the IMF, Christine Lagarde, commented: “In my interview at the IMF with all the 24 administrators, there was not one single woman. So while I was being questioned for three hours by 24 men, I thought it’s good that things are changing a little.”

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