French feminists attack media misogyny in Strauss-Kahn case
Summary of story from Reuters, May 21, 2011
Angry French feminists say local media has been awash with male chauvinist comments since the arrest of former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn on charges of attempted rape (see previous WVoN story).
Feminist organizations, including “Osez le feminisme” and “La Barbe,” published a petition saying they were “stunned by the daily flood of misogynist comments by public figures” since the French former finance minister was detained.
Struass-Kahn denies the charges and is currently on bail.
In their statement, the feminists said friends and allies of Strauss-Kahn had downplayed the plight of the alleged victim in their rush to defend him, who until his fall was well placed to beat President Nicolas Sarkozy in 2012 elections.
In a statement on Le Monde’s website, the groups said: “We do not know what happened in New York Saturday May 14, but we know what has been happening in France in the past week.
“We are witnessing a sudden rise of sexist and reactionary reflexes, so quick to surface among part of the French elite.
“There is a certain impunity in France when it comes to this kind of uninhibited sexism.”
The petition was signed by more than 1,000 women.
Pointing out that 75,000 women were raped in France every year, the groups said that sexist language in public tended to minimise the gravity of crime, turning it into a vague and more or less acceptable act.
The groups referred to statements by former culture minister and Strauss-Kahn ally Jack Lang, who said Strauss-Kahn should have been released on bail earlier, considering that “nobody has died.”
Journalist Jean-Francois Kahn, no relation, denied rape had taken place and dismissed the affair as “troussage de domestique,” a phrase that evokes a master having non-consensual sex with a servant.
“This kind of language generates an intolerable confusion between sexual freedom and violence toward women.
“Violent acts, rape, attempted rape and harassment are all the mark of men’s desire to dominate women’s bodies,” the feminist groups said.