DSK’s very international affair

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.


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  • Oldflyer

    Book we diverge a bit here with regard to the White House kerfuffle.   The named women are powerful, accomplished, and privileged; and they are complaining that men talk over them in meetings?  This foolishness will set women back, not advance them.
    Women have muscled their way into the upper echelons of most professions; now, they must play , by “big boy rules” or get out of the kitchen.  Cowboy up ladies.  (How about that for mixing metaphors or whatever you call them?)
    BTW, I get talked over all the time by my wife and daughters during family gatherings.  I do not think that America cares.  Nor does America care to hear that Christine Romer, or others at her level–a level that has a big say in the fortunes of we little people– cannot hold their own.
    With regards to the main thrust of your post; the French will always be, well, French.  They do make good soup, and their wine is at least as good as that from Virginia, and California.  That much we can say for them.

  • Danny Lemieux

    Oldflyer, Danny Lemieux here. My point was not really about the whining of the Christine Romers of the world as it was about the normalization of the behavior in which Bill Clinton engaged. I think that most French women envy the status and protections that American women have achieved in the workplace. French men are beginning to realize that women’s contributions are essential and deserve to be treated with respect. I have observed this in my own professional life. This is very good thing.

    What happened during the Clinton administration was an abomination. It also served to wipe out any remaining shreds of credibility that the feminist movement might have had. However, as Book pointed out in her post (not mine), misogyny buried deep within the DNA of the Left (need I mention that DSK is a socialist?). Eventually, we too will need to confront this because it tends to erupt in very ugly ways.

  • suek

    >>The named women are powerful, accomplished, and privileged; and they are complaining that men talk over them in meetings?>>

    I think you just made a very important point. What they want is not equality – it’s a need to be considered superior.

    I’m not sure how to explain what I feel is the issue – because it’s also self-contradictory…

    For centuries, Christianity has elevated women to positions of honor. In return, women were expected to be sexually pure and faithful wives and mothers. Intellectually superior women were not accorded any special bennies, although it was recognized that an educated woman was a better partner and mother. Women expected men to behave in a certain way around them – to be “seated” at the dining room table, to have doors opened for them, for men to restrain their rough language among mixed company.

    Then we got “equality”. Women are not longer expected to be sexually pure, motherhood is denigrated (she has _how_ many children???), use the same foul language men use, open doors themselves (in fact, may be offended if a door is opened for them) and hardly anybody sits at a dining room table any more, making that a moot matter as well.

    But. Being up on that pedestal was nice. And of course, we want to be respected for our intellectual prowess – equating that one facet of God-given talent with the requirements for certain behaviors of the past, which had to be actively maintained. So what these women actually want is the pedestal, with the respect of restraint in interruption (rather than vocabulary) and the admiration for accomplishment that one normally reserves for a child. Actually, it’s a bit embarrassing. If they want to get into the fight, they have to learn to expect to take the rough and tumble. If they don’t want the rough and tumble, fine – but don’t expect the glory.

    They want to have their cake and eat it too. All they’re going to get is resentment. Coming and going. They will resent the men, and the men will resent them. Not good.

  • Libby

    It will be interesting to see if this is really a case of hostility toward women or just the whining of feminists who weren’t given the expected amount of deference and respect by their male colleagues. Let’s face it, it sounds like working with Rahm Emmanuel isn’t a picnic, regardless of your sex. But to have a job of that caliber you have to be able to handle people like Rahm.
    I saw Suskind defending his book on Morning Joe today, and he had the good sense to tape his interviews. All of these denials from Dunn, Romer, and Summers (re: “…it’s like we’re home alone”) are futile.

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    Misogyny is a Democrat and Leftist product. Wipe out Leftists, and you’d be amazed at the progress humanity will make. Most assuredly.

  • Gringo

    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.
    Anita Dunn was one of the women who complained about misogyny at the White House. Yes, that Anita Dunn: the one who said that Mao Tse Tung was one of her “favorite philosophers.”  From what I have read, Mao was quite the lecher. Would Anita Dunn still have considered Mao one of her “favorite philosophers” if she had worked for Mao?

  • http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com Ymarsakar

    That’s what cognitive dissonance is for. Prevent them from thinking about it and thus saving them stress.