Monday, May 30, 2011

DSK drama and crap

Greetings from 1950s America!  No, not really.  But yes, really.

I disappeared last week because I was working on an article for my friend's Seattle news website about the Dominic Strauss-Kahn debacle -- a first-hand report from someone living in the Paris hot zone.  It's not the kind of writing I usually do and I got very wrapped up in it because I wanted to hit the right tone -- you know, not too screechy as I screeched about suddenly realizing I'm living in an old-fashioned culture full of misogyny and cavemen.

I can't begin to get into all the things I've heard and read in the French press the past couple weeks.  I will not pollute my happy little blog.  I can tell you it would give many Americans a sense of déjà vu, as I imagine these are the kinds of titillated "tough shit, ladies" attitudes that got tossed around fifty years ago in the States.

I don't know what the guy did or didn't do.  Maybe he's guilty, maybe he's innocent.  I am fairly certain he's an asshole either way -- but that doesn't matter and his innocence or guilt is not even my point.  My point is, this case has opened the floodgates and revealed the deep-seated misogyny in French culture.  (There are many reasonable voices calling for cultural introspection, too, but from what I can tell they seem to be the minority?)  Truth is out.  France is way behind the times.  Way.  Behind.

You can call me an American prude all you want, Frenchies -- but please realize that word doesn't make much sense when discussing an act of violence. 

We are SO not getting along right now,

P.S.  I'll be back tomorrow with pictures of kittens or something.


TN said...

Hey MJ

What really disturbed me (because like you I have no idea on his guilt or innocence) the fact the French Media was/is so "ANGRY" about how much the rent was for DSK's apartment in Brooklyn! I mean everyone was so pissed about it. For me I kept yelling back at the TV who the US Gov't, the French Gov't or the IMF paying for his rent? NO then WHO CARES!

But someone (a French guest specializing on all this US) explained to the French Journalist on Canal + that American Culture is different than French Culture. That the French don't show their wealth because of "Fraternité" (Brotherhood) and to do so is outrageous here against their very principles (Liberté, Egalité and Fraternité)! But in the States everyone brags about what they have or don't have and pretend to have haha!

We have realized this first my husband was hiding/giving vague details of where we lived (saying near Bastille) and that I didn't work etc...HE was ashamed or felt judged. But the god awful truth is that he really was being judged. They kept prodding him for months (which metro stop is yours, then pushed even more...) until finally he had to just admit it.

If you are well off (not DSK wealthy of course you can't really hide that)'s best not to flaunt it. But then again they don't like the really poor either haha! We are by no means rich but of course what they assume is what is not what the facts are.


Anonymous said...

If you remember what the reaction was in France in 2009 when Roman Polanski was arrested in Switzerland and US authorities asked that he be extradited to face charges of having sex with a 13-year-old girl, you would not be surprised by the recent reaction to the DSK case. France is a great country, but it has a few "issues." It's not always as wonderful as the Tour Eiffel as macarons...

Patricia H

debbie in toronto said...

well Arnold stole his thunder over here...but what I want to know is how is this guy a Socialist?..really?

he's just creepy

MJ said...

Hi TN -- indeed, they were totally obsessed with the numbers. What a strange thing to focus on.

Hi Patricia Heaton (that's just what I call you when I see your initials) I'd forgotten about Polanski. Guess there are no victims when you're a rich white guy in France with powerful friends.

Debbie -- I don't get the big deal about Arnold. Sure, it's shocking, but it seems like a consensual thing all around. He's a horrid husband, but he's no criminal. If DSK did what he's accused to have done, he's the bigger piece of creepy crap.

debbie in toronto said...

oh for sure DSK is way worse but over here he doesn't mean a whole hell of alot...the terminator sells more paper...

I'm pretty sure it wasn't okay with Maria...just saying.

MJ said...

HA, Debbie. True 'dat. Maria most definitely was not a willing participant. Like I said -- crap husband.

I guess it sells more paper because it's a lot more "fun" too. Illegitimate child of the Governator? Tell me everything! Alleged sexual assault of a poor immigrant woman? *needle scratch*....

TN said...

I didn't even hear about Arnold till we had an visiting American over for dinner 2 weeks ago! No French News that I know about...Not that I fully pay attention all the time (love that I can still block it out if wanted ;-)

I don't get the hype either...other than it's a bit of good gossip. But I am not surprised at all. He "did have" a reputation. But perfect timing to let it all out "AFTER" his term was up. But like MJ said nothing illegal just illegitimate + he was a Governor not The President of the IMF and possible future President of France (kiss that one goodbye).


Anne said...

MJ: You nailed it. (But not in a DSK way.) Thanks.

Duchesse said...

If you want to see how backward the French are in their attitude towards women, check out the website

Quite blood-curdling.

Yes, bring back Julie Andrews!:)

Anonymous said...

Hope you've caught Jon Stewart's comments on Bernard-Henri Lévy and Ben Stein) using "airtight reasoning" to defend DSK. If not, you can check it out on The Daily Show's website: the segment is called "La Cage aux Fools." Priceless...


Patricia H

paris (im)perfect said...

Thank you so much for this post. I have had a hard time even talking about the DSK affair - which is kind of difficult since *everybody* keeps asking me. The French hear my American accent and launch into how strange our justice system is. My American friends send me articles and ask just what the heck is up with French culture. It is hard to find the right tone to respond. I like your funny, honest outrage the best. Please post a link to the news article you wrote about it if possible!

Steve said...

DSK case revealed several French traits:
- French culture is more permissive than US culture with regards to sexual harassment: DSK indecent behavior towards women was widely known but did not raise much concern. More generally, a lot of men of power share the same very bad habits of engaging women at work.
- DSK's religion is judaism. A lot of renowned editorialists, chief editors, are jewish too. And some of them probably felt they had to be on DSK side and forgot their role as journalists. Jean-François Kahn is one good example.
- A good part of French opinion was shocked by the court footages and the perp walk images of DSK. I was shocked by these images.
It is not true to say that it is about equal treatment. The average drug dealer or rapist will not have 100+ journalists waiting for his perp walk and his face will not be broadcasted worldwide. Most people tend to think that because police arrested someone, this person is guilty. If DSK is finally innocent, will he get back his IMF job ? No. Will we re-run the French presidential elections so that he can compete ? No. His public life is ruined, and so is his private life, most probably. Innocent or guilty, does not matter. He's done.
- Yes, a part of the French opinion considers that a left-wing political person cannot be rich. I have to say that it is a cliché right-wing people love to convey. It’s all about where the mainstream, left-wing French Parti Socialiste is coming from. Nowadays, the French Parti Socialiste political baseline embraces market economy. But until the 70s, the final goal of this party was the end of the free market economy for a regulated economy. Left-wing parties are deeply connected to labor rights, to popular struggles. The ancestor of the Parti Socialiste was the SFIO (Section française de l’Internationale ouvrière - French Section of the Workers' International), which led the country after the Front Populaire, and was a period in French history which led to many social developments. The French left-wing mindset is still influenced by the notion of class struggle. Popular classes are poor and have to fight for their rights against the rich. Now you understand why there are so many strikes in France. It’s all about reminiscences of class struggle ideology. Mix this with the good ole’ catholic contrition about money and wealth, and there you are: in France, you can’t be left-wing AND rich.

MJ said...

Steve -- I was hoping you'd weigh in here, happy to hear your thoughts. And honestly, I hate the perp walk, too. I think most Americans do. It's totally indulging American's penchant for spectacle, that's all. I agree it's harmful -- I think we can thank Rudy Giuliani for that one? Or was it earlier?

Anyway, glad to see I didn't scare our resident French male away.

Hello to Anne and Duchesse and Paris Imperfect. It's been a rocky road over here navigating the French/American differences once again, eh?

MJ said...

Err...and by saying that, of course, Duchesse, I know you're not American. Sorry to lump you in with all the prudes....

Steve said...

"glad to see I didn't scare our resident French male away."

Wow, now I feel honored to be your blog's French male sample ;-)

Can't wait your next post with pictures of kittens.
BTW, have you ever seen calendars from La Poste mailmen are selling at years end? A great collection of kittens and puppies.
A great sample of La Poste great taste for their calendars:

TN said...

Ahhh...yes I fogot about the perp walk. Too funny and a bit degrading for him as well as putting him in Riker's Island. Very strange and the "suicide watch" he was placed on. All that seemed unnecessary

Anonymous said...

Would love to see the article when it's available! And kittens too of course.

Anonymous said...

This a very interesting post about a part of French culture (apparent gender bias) that some of us are still struggling to understand. There are so many strong women in French history, I am frankly surprised by how widespread the problem appears to be. I would like to hear much more about this from people who work and live in France about whether gender bias is the institutional problem that the post and comments make it appear to be.

MJ said...

Hi Anonymous -- agreed, there are many powerful women in French history, and there are women in positions of power today. And in fact, some of those women, a group of politicians, went on the 8 o'clock news a handful of days ago to discuss the sexism they encounter daily in their professional lives.

One by the name of Bachelot (?), said she's regularly called "ma poulette" or "ma papotte" by male politicians publicly, in Parliament.

I don't have a link to the news report, but there's one example of French women, public figures, coming out and stating what needs to be stated -- sexism is a serious problem in France and it's time to start talking about it.

Anonymous said...

So, where is the Seattle article; :-)

Anonymous said...

"It is not true to say that it is about equal treatment. The average drug dealer or rapist will not have 100+ journalists waiting for his perp walk and his face will not be broadcasted worldwide." But if DSK weren't treated the same as the "average" suspect then he would, in effect, be receiving preferential treatment and that most certainly would not be equal treatment.

Natasha said...

"DSK's religion is judaism. A lot of renowned editorialists, chief editors, are jewish too. And some of them probably felt they had to be on DSK side and forgot their role as journalists. Jean-François Kahn is one good example."

I've been so impressed (up until now) at the lack of antisemitism in the whole DSK affair. You've spoilt it now. You're as big a creep as DSK.

Steve said...

MJ, feel free not to publish my answer if you feel it is not appropriate here.

Sorry I hurt some feelings here.
Is it fair to say that the Guinean community of NY stood behind the maid? Do you feel racism is involved saying so?
I think it is fair to say that some journalists got emotionally mixed-up as one brilliant member of their community got involved in some creepy rape case.
I gave the example of Jean-François Kahn who admitted himself he lost his journalistic sense. If you can read French, you may read this:

MJ said...

Hmm. My comment just disappeared. OK, take two.

Basically, I'm OK with posting debates as long as they don't get too ugly. I'm not sure what "too ugly" means just yet, hopefully I'll never have to decide.

Let's just play nice, debate is fine, let's leave name-calling out of it. Good?

Anonymous said...

I couldn't think you are more right.


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