Comment of the Day: About That DSK 'Avalanche'

How to talk about DSK's past

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How should the media treat the lurid stories from Dominque Strauss-Kahn's past? It's a tough question, and one that commenter @WAKnight explored in-depth:

1) I'm not particularly comfortable with the combination of stories about DSK's 'dalliances' and accounts of his trips to swinger's clubs with the reports of his long history of sexual harassment, let alone calling a similar episode with a maid a 'dalliance.'  Mixing them together either stigmatizes consensual sex or minimizes sexual harassment and rape.

2) On the other hand this whole thing makes me think of how the whole idea of a 'seducer' isn't unrelated to rape.  When we say that someone is a seducer we do not mean he is a hot, charming guy whom women want to have sex with -- as I said above, I don't think that should be the subject of serious opprobrium.  A seducer is seen as someone who controls women's sexuality, who can bend them to his will.  Theoretically without force, but the underlying attitude of having someone else in your power isn't really compatible with the notion of consenting adults, and if you're used to thinking of yourself as controlling other people without force that can pretty easily spill into the use of force or drugs. Into rape, that is.  Mozart's 'Don Giovanni' is a good example of how the 'seducer' can also be a rapist.  This isn't to say that sex can be completely rationalized, but there have to be better lenses through which to look at it then 'man bends women to his will.'  Or vice versa.

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This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.