Dominique Strauss Kahn, International Man of Misogyny

I have become some sort of “expert” on DSK. Perhaps “obsessed” would be a more suitable term to describe my tendency to scout every news source in four different languages trying to understand his actions or his motivations. This has not been a good week for my understanding.
Publish date:
April 2, 2012
misogyny, sex work, dsk, scandals

Just like most people who follow news pretty much everywhere, I have been acquainted with Dominique Strauss Kahn since May, when he, at the pinnacle of his career as managing director of the IMF, allegedly assaulted a hotel maid in New York.

The difference between most people and me, I suppose, is that ever since, I have become some sort of “expert” on DSK. Perhaps “obsessed” would be a more suitable term to describe my tendency to scout every news source in four different languages hoping to find a new detail, something that hasn’t been previously mentioned about his antics, a new development… anything.

I guess I’ve just been trying to understand his actions or his motivations because I don’t recall a case of a single individual displaying such degree of misogyny and lack of ethics so often and for such a sustained period of time. Sure, there has been Julian Assange or Roman Polanski, perhaps the Edwards debacle, but DSK seems to belong to a different league, with each incident and revelation outdoing the previous one.

This has not been a good week for my understanding, though. On Wednesday Strauss Kahn’s attorneys asked a court in New York to dismiss the civil lawsuit brought by Nafissatou Diallo, the hotel maid he allegedly assaulted in May. To request the dismissal, his attorneys cited an international convention that the sitting judge noted had not been ratified by the US, and which included terms not even backed by the IMF itself. They asked that he be spared on the basis of diplomatic immunity:

“Mr. Strauss-Kahn enjoyed the same kind of diplomatic immunity in process and suit that other high-ranking officials and diplomats enjoy and who are resident in this country - people like the Secretary General of the United Nations, the Russian Consul,” the attorney noted.

I should note the cruel irony of his request for diplomatic immunity considering the smear campaign that his alleged victim was subjected to back in May and the weeks following, due to her status as an asylum seeker from Guinea. Her racial profile and background were used against her as proof of her bad reputation. Her entire life was dissected on the basis of being an immigrant, with insinuations about her possibly undocumented situation.

Unlike Strauss Kahn and his diplomatic credentials, Diallo was treated like the kind of foreigner that gets little compassion in mainstream media.

To make matters even worse for DSK, on Monday, French prosecutors handed him down a preliminary charge of "aggravated procurement in an organized gang" in relation to a vice investigation centered on the French city of Lille.

To put it in plain terms, he is being charged with pimping. Needless to say, he is outraged at the allegations. Of course he didn’t know the women participating in the alleged orgies were sex workers! Of course he wasn’t aware that they were being paid!

Nevermind that he referred to them repeatedly as “luggage,” “the materials” or “the little ones” when arranging his encounters with them. Incidentally, he is also very angry that these details were leaked to the press yesterday and now he is threatening to sue French newspaper Le Monde for publishing them. “I was naive!” he says.

Of course he was, who wouldn’t be naive when the introductions to these women came from Dominique Alderweirel, a guy living in Belgium who is known and referred to by the nickname of “Dodo la Saumure” or, as I like to call him “Dodo the Pickle” (as far as literal translations go, it should be “Dodo the Brine,” but “Dodo the Pickle” has a better ring to it, and I believe it’s more fitting considering the circumstances of his celebrity status).

“Dodo the Pickle” is a very shady character, a French citizen but residing in Belgium, he is now standing trial on accusations of leading a criminal organization in relation to his “management” of brothels and facilitating prostitution. His name came out in relation of DSK once French police tapped the phones of those they suspected were part of the Carlton Hotel ring in Lille, France. Dodo the Pickle, according to the intercepted communications, was the guy who brought the sex workers from Belgium to participate in the alleged sex parties.

Now, here is the thing for me in this whole affair: by all news reports, all the people involved in the alleged orgies with DSK were part of these activities consensually so I sincerely do not get the media frenzy focusing specifically on the fact that DSK had what by all appearances was consensual sex with sex workers.

Except from one detail, which English-speaking mainstream media is hardly mentioning and I had to dig into French sources to find: According to Isabelle Algoed, the Belgium prosecutor leading the charges against Dodo the Pickle, he targeted specifically what she called “vulnerable women,” most of them undocumented immigrants who were then forced to work in bars and brothels across Belgium and were sometimes brought over the French border to serve international customers.

Dodo the Pickle is not going down without a fight, though. He and his business partner, Béatrice Legrain, gave an interview to the Spanish edition of Vanity Fair where they spilled the beans in relation to DSK and the details of the alleged sex parties. The interview was as classy as you might expect and I've got to thank The Daily Mailfor doing the dirty work of translating it so that I don’t have to (trust, reading the Spanish original was bad enough that I dread the thought of having to decide how to best describe DSK’s sexual pirouettes in English).

Here, I have to again point out the obvious: The accounts of the sex parties do not shock me and neither do I think they are newsworthy by themselves. Really, is there still something scandalous in the details of a middle-aged man having group sex?

However, it’s incidents like this, in the context of his position of authority in international politics and as former chief of the IMF that I am alarmed by:

She [Béatrice Legrain] also said that the former International Monetary Chief had attacked her during the party.'I got up to go to the bathroom and DSK followed me and in a passageway he grabbed me by my throat and said 'it's you who I want', she added.

and this, from another report given to investigators by a sex worker only identified by the name of Marion:

The hooker told police it 'was rare to find men who showed as little respect for girls' as the shamed former IMF chief - saying how she was pinned down by the wrists to perform degrading sex acts by one of his alleged cohorts.Marion told how she was 'forcibly restrained' at a sex party by Lille businessman David Roquet.'No other man in the room did anything to intervene. Escorting is not £25-a-go prostitution. It is rare to find men who show as little respect as DSK and Roquet.'Another call girl named Ines told investigators the orgies she attended with Strauss-Kahn and his cronies were 'like cattle markets'. She added: 'It was just pure sexual consumption, and these sessions often became bestial and violent.'

Until May of 2011, this man was in charge of the International Monetary Fund, one of the most influential institutions in the world, dictating policies and imposing strict economic measures on some of the most vulnerable nations on Earth, measures and impositions that usually led to poverty, bankruptcy and suffering. This man was once hailed as the presidential hopeful with the best chances to win the French elections for the Socialist Party. This man, by all accounts, displays nothing but contempt and cruelty for the women that cross his path.

However, by now, I think I understand my obsession with him a bit better. If anything, he is a glaring example of the kind of damage a woman hater with unchecked authority can inflict: Dominique Strauss Kahn, international man of misogyny. Every time I hope it’ll be the last one I have to write about his actions. And yet, I am not holding my breath as I know this is probably not the last we’ve heard of his outrageous behavior.