Very little surprised me about IMF Chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn‘s attempted rape of a New York hotel maid, and even less shocked me about his sketchy record on harassing women. Hello, can we say rich-white-male-power-entitlement-issues?
Apparently Strauss-Kahn’s “woman problem” was an open secret amongst journalists, especially female ones. His reputation was even celebrated and excused in France where he is known as the “Great Seducer.”
What is shocking as lurid details keep surfacing are not only the women coming out with new allegations, or confirming old ones against the embattled IMF Chief, but the women who are coming to his defense.
Enter American-born Anne Sinclair, third wife of DSK. The power couple have been married for twenty years, and while Sinclair, once labeled France’s most illustrious journalist, is no stranger to forgiving her husband’s past discretions, famously stating that it is important for a politician to “know how to seduce,” what is disturbing about her rushing to her husband’s defense now is her providing Strauss-Kahn protection in an alleged rape. Sinclair’s defense is strengthened by Strauss-Kahn’s ex-wife, Brigitte Guillemette who states, “Violence is not part of his temperament.”
I find it particularly disturbing when women come to aid men with not only a history of extra-marital affairs, but sexual harassment and assault. It takes away from the women alleging the crimes against them, while allowing men to continue and get away with this kind of behavior. We excuse it. Why should men ever change when they never have to face responsibility for their actions, and heck, even their wives tell them it is okay?
What Sinclair and Guillmette are doing is nothing new. Women have justified, condoned, covered up and rushed to defend philandering men since the beginning of time. From Jackie Kennedy to Hillary Clinton to Silda Spitzer, the woman who embodied the word “humiliation” standing by her husband, former New York Governor Eliot as he confessed his involvement with a prostitution ring. The stories of powerful men may be splashed across newspapers, but the truth is regular men get away with it, too.
But I thought times were a changin’? While once upon a time the notion of standing by your man at any cost with a tray of home baked chocolate chip cookies was ingrained into women’s consciences, these days it is more about dumping that tray on his head and finding yourself a good lawyer. Nobody expects you to cover up for your man anymore, or not nearly as much as they may have before, so why do women still do it? Did we not learn anything from Jenny Sanford or Veronica Berlusconi?
Maybe women like Anne Sinclair are trying to protect themselves, their children, and their families more than their husbands. But the fact of the matter is in this day and age there are just simply other ways of going about it. As long as women help men cover up assaults and harassment of other women, men will continue to think they are entitled to do so.
*This post of mine was first published on Forbes Woman & The Huffington Post.