L’affaire DSK is all the rage in France.
On my recent visit to France, you might say I was somewhat surprised that nobody asked me about the U.S. economy, the Euro’s impending collapse or Obama. Rather, the first question out of their mouths was “what do Americans think about the DSK affair?”. They were, of course, referring to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the recently deposed head of the International Monetary Fund and French President wannabee. DSK had been arrested in New York in somewhat dubious circumstances involving alleged transgressions with a chamber maid (think “Paula Jones”).
The reason that the DSK affair was on peoples’ minds, I think, is because it jolted the French to an awareness that there was something very wrong in their society’s treatment of women in the workplace and elsewhere. It’s about time.
During my visit, I spoke with a woman that had enjoyed a fabulous career in finance and who, as a university student, had been taught by DSK. “He was truly brilliant,” she said, “But…”. Another woman, a retired Air France flight attendent, described how she and her colleagues would beg and bribe their cabin mates in order to be reassigned out of First Class whenever certain French politicians were traveling. But then, on the flip side, I heard a few men talk about how such things should be expected of powerful men, you know, “droit du seigneur” and all. These men were the exceptions, not the rule.
But then, I listened to one man I know, an elderly, world-renown attorney who easily straddles both sides of the Atlantic, tell me how his law firm hires only women attorneys today. “We interview both men and women, but inevitably the women prove to be the better attorneys”. He got it. He was profoundly embarrassed and angry about the DSK affair. In his view, the grandstanding New York City prosecutor did a complete hack job on the case and DSK deserved to be completely discredited and set-up for a civil suit “even if his guilt can’t be proven in court” (for the record, I completely disagree with this premise on the principle of “innocent until proven guilty”).
I can’t say anything about DSK’s innocence or guilt. What I do know is that France is having a major conversation with itself on the proper treatment of women and that this is a good thing. The conversation is moving them in the right direction.
I bring this up this narrative up with regard to the reports of misogyny emanating from our White House. I don’t know if they are true or not, but I suspect this isn’t the last we’ve heard of them. Our MSM press will cover it up, no doubt, just as they did with JFK and LBJ, but eventually the truth will out. We lost a lot of ground during the Clinton Administration (Paula Jones, Monica Lewinsky, Juanita Broderick, etc.) and I would hate to think that workplace misogyny will again become the new norm.
Perhaps we, too, need a national conversation.