I started checking Huffington Post almost hourly after the arrest of Dominique Strauss-Kahn over the weekend, expecting a deluge of bloggers opining on the scandal: where were they? Surely not waiting to see if the head of the IMF and a potential president of France is indeed guilty of crimes as charged?
In the absence of others, I'd like to make the case that every time a man in a position of power, especially a smart one with the mandate to do good in the world, behaves in a manner that suggests he is divorced from responsibility to both women and the law, he does far more harm than just to himself and his family.
In the case of Strauss-Kahn, there are the not-so-small matters of the eurozone financial crisis, the French presidency and the ability of Europe to hang on the leadership of the IMF against pressure from the rest of the world.
And there is also the matter of what this kind of behavior signals about our culture and our values. We might bang our chests over rape in the Congo, or child sex slavery here in the USA, but if we cannot see a connection between the sexual behavior of men in leadership positions and the victims of sexual violence across the globe, then we are missing an important point and are not fully awake. If we allow excuses and impunity for certain men in certain cases (many of which revolve around a fuzzy notion of "consensual"), then these incidents will not stop.
We didn't even have to wait for this particular trial for the defense team to throw out the canard defense of consensual sex: this one has been used so many times against women lured by men in politics, it's almost a given. Let's try and imagine: a chamber maid, a foreign woman, an African lady actually, a mother, comes to work on a Saturday morning and decides she just can't get through her shift without a giving a man twice her age a blow-job and indulging in a quick bit of anal intercourse? Hmm...?
Comparing Elliott Spitzer or Silvio Berlusconi's sexual indiscretions to this scandal might seem unfair on Spitzer or the Italian prime minister, but I see all of these scandals as part of a continuum of behavior that leads directly from their flawed behavior towards women to a world in which the sexual abuse of children and women is rampant, growing and out of control.
I hope that this is the last time I have to hear about a man who has the brains and the power to fix many ills and should be a role model, using a woman for his own sexual impulses just because he can. I also don't want to wake up one morning and find out Dominique Strauss-Kahn has lost his day job, only to get his very own show on CNN. That's the cherry on the top of Spitzer syndrome.