Varying global reactions to Strauss-Kahn case

The reaction to Dominique Strauss-Kahn's legal difficulties give us an insight into the wildly varying standards of sexual probity different societies around the world tolerate from their leaders.

    We don't know what actually happened in that New York hotel room, and it would not be wise to speculate.

    But Dominique Strauss-Kahn's legal difficulties do give us an insight into the wildly varying standards of sexual probity different societies tolerate from their leaders.

    Take a look at this article in the London's Independent newspaper by John Lichfield.

    Lichfield says that in French media circles, it was common currency that Strauss-Kahn could not be safely left alone with a young woman.

    So maybe the the famous Gallic tolerance of sexual indiscretions has gone too far creating a culture where journalists and politicians turn a blind eye not only to infidelities, but also to harassment and even assault.
     
    Things are very different in Britain where no high profile figure could expect the media to ignore a reputation for serial and aggressive philandering.

    Scandal-hungry British newspapers ruthlessly pursue rumours, and delight in pulling down public figures.

    And parts of the US media work in the same way, (plus, in the DSK story, throw in a strong dose of anti-French prejudice).

    Take a look at this piece in the New York Post.

    Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty, at least as far as the sexual assault goes, but in the meantime the Post brands him a "whiny fat cat", displaying "pompous arrogance".
     
    I lived in Nigeria at the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Yes, President Clinton and Miss Lewinsky had a consensual affair, and there was no alleged assault.

    Nonetheless, the difference between US and African attitudes towards that episode is revealing.

    I think it would be fair to say that most Nigerians (and most Africans for that matter) simply could not understand what all the fuss was about.

    From their point of view, Clinton had only behaved like any powerful politician would.

    His standing did not fall in African eyes as a result of his affair with Lewinsky.

    Rather, I would say that, on balance, Clinton became more popular with Africans, amidst a widespread perception that his Republican enemies were vindictive and hyprocritical.
     
    This time, however, Africans might feel differently.

    The alleged victim is from Guinea, and the many enemies of the IMF will delight in the metaphor of the head of this powerful organisation ravishing a defenceless African woman.

    We don't know how the trial will unfold. But we do know that those who are following it, whether they be in New York, Paris, or Conakry, will have very different perspectives on the evidence put forward.


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