16 May 2011

Power Relations

Another of the mighty has fallen.  Or so it seems.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn is the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund and was mentioned as a candidate for the French Presidency in next year's elections.

Well, it looks like the latter is out of the question.  Even the French, who are sometimes charitably called "tolerant" when it comes to the sexual behavior of public figures, are saying they can't abide a leader who's done what he's accused of doing.  And it also looks like his IMF career is fini. Even if he's proven to be innocent, it will be difficult, if not impossible, to restore his reputation.

That's because he's been arrested for sexually assaulting a worker in the posh New York Sofitel.  Even if he's cleared of charges, the questions will linger because sexual allegations stick to even the most Puritanical figures.  And Strauss-Kahn has a reputation, even among the French and other Europeans, as a philanderer.

But he's not likely to end up destitute as a result of this.  With his wealth and power come connections that will help him to continue his life in more or less the style to which he's become accustomed.  Those, of course, are the very things that would allow him to behave as he is alleged to have behaved.

One thing that the feminists got right is that sexual relationships are about power.  Or, at least, they come to that.  That is the reason why wealthy and influential men so often prey on women who work menial jobs or are otherwise economically vulnerable. Why do you think an American President had an affair with a White House intern rather than a woman in a policymaking position?  (Of course, his wife was one of said policymaking women.)  And why have I heard so many stories from women who were raped by the owners or managers of restaurants where they worked as waitresses?

I'm thinking again of Dr. Mark Weinberg, the fugitive plastic surgeon who had an affair with a transsexual woman while he was on living on the lam, under an alias.  I can't help but to think that he wouldn't have felt the same lack of compunction about lying had she been a wealthy cis woman rather than a transsexual clerk in a grocery store.  Likewise, if Monsieur Strauss-Kahn indeed committed sexual assault, I somehow doubt he would have committed it against a guest rather than a worker at the hotel.  And Bill Clinton wouldn't have gone to a woman who was anything like his wife for oral sex.