We don't know yet if Dominique Strauss-Kahn really did attempt to rape a hotel maid and force her to perform oral sex. Thus, it's a little early for headlines decrying his sexual aggression. But you know what else it's too early for? Headlines blaming "women" for bringing him down. Behold this roundup of foreign press headlines: whether careless or deliberate, they seem a bit much. It's one step beyond the presumption of innocence; it seems to be news to these folks that, just as Strauss-Kahn has a right to a fair trial, police also have the right to arrest him for possibly trying to rape someone. And women have a right to say something if they feel assaulted. And, shockingly, being a ladies' man doesn't necessarily mean locking them up in a hotel room and forcing them to perform oral sex.
We'll update this list as we find more examples.
This is from Le Nouvel Observateur, the article by Philippe Boulet-Gercourt, who writes about "an America that won't have the slightest atom of sympathy for an all-powerful man accused of sexual aggression and attempted rape." The country will be particularly irritated that "a Frenchie" might have been trying to escape American justice by getting on a plane to France. And they'll haul out "old cliches about cowardly and depraved Frenchmen," he warns. What's more, Boulet-Gercourt says that if he's guilty, Strauss-Kahn will "at best" be labeled "a sex addict ... like some did with Tiger Woods," and might get sent to prison. He mentions, too, the Lewsinky affair, where "for many, the argument 'that it's about a consensual act between adults' has been replaced with an unvoiced reproach, always addressed at Bill Clinton: that of having been egotistical."
The crux of Boulet-Gercourt's argument seems to be that Americans object, prudishly, to all sorts of indiscretions; rape is just a cover. Americans say they care about consent, but really they just want to stick it to powerful men who go after tons of women. Apparently, investigating a rape allegation gets Americans called "Puritan."
This gem comes from the Italian La Stampa. We too think of sexual assault charges and imagine women advancing in a menacing fashion upon a man's CV. Who wouldn't? While there's some wiggle room in terms of linguistic differences, this wording seems careless at best.
Take that brilliant hed/photo combination from La Repubblica and add to it this lede: "Bright, competent, respected. Many great qualities in public life and a weakness: women." The dek also adds that he's already "slipped on a sex scandal," but that the "charges of rape" in New York have probably finished him. What do these sentences have in common? They don't seem to think that assaulting women is much different than simply pursuing them. This article, which starts out by calling him a "powerful man obsessed with women," and includes a photo of his wife looking appropriately problematic, also doesn't fail to mention his rival in the socialist party: Ségolène Royal.
*Original version of this post translated "ossessionato" as "haunted by" rather than "obsessed with."