Rape is one of life's most uncivilized behaviors. When systematically perpetrated as a weapon of war, it's more about administering dishonor and humiliation then it is an expression of sexual urgency. On a more prosaic level, forced sexual relations can, of course, be the result of an uncontrollable impulse for sexual release. Most women live in fear of it. All too many women have had first hand experience protecting themselves from it. As a crime, it is one of the toughest to prosecute and get a conviction since alleged victims must be error proof. Only the Virgin Mary could escape the degradation of a properly executed defense strategy.
Why do men rape? "Because they can," some women say. This ungenerous explanation does not acknowledge the statistical truth that the majority of men do not rape. Why not? Because they've been "civilized." In modern civilizations, most boys grow into men by learning to curb their basic instincts. With proper parenting and guidance, the male human evolves to a complex level of behavior, relying on emotional maturity and higher consciousness to treat the physically weaker sex with respect. That's a mark of civilization.
Something happened on May 14 in Manhattan's Sofitel Hotel suite 2806 and it was not civilized.
Unfortunately, due to strategic blunders that have destroyed the accuser's credibility, we might never know whose behavior was uncivilized. Yet some Frenchmen would like us to think it was, not the hotel guest who appeared nude to a housemaid, but members of the press and America's judicial system.
In his defense of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, French public intellectual, Bernard-Henri Lévy has taken American society to task for having an uncivilized, brutal and carnival nature. Calling DSK's treatment by the American judicial system "pornographic" and the tabloid press treatment "obscene," Levy demands that DSK be fully exonerated. Speaking from the lofty principle of innocent until proven guilty, his comments are reviving anti-Americanism in France. "The feeling is that the United States is not a fully civilized country."
Mon dieu! What are they talking about? Are Lévy and others really more concerned about an admittedly vulgar press treatment than the crime itself? Are some French intellectuals more outraged about a man in handcuffs under house arrest and, arguably, a rush to judgment, than the original deed? Let us separate the questionable practices of the American judicial system from an ugly act of incontestably uncivilized behavior.
Monsieur Strauss-Kahn has admitted he had sex with the hotel maid and unless we believe the NY Post that she was in fact earning a little cash by servicing hotel clients on the side, we have to wonder how it happened. The DNA evidence makes it clear that he ejaculated semen, since DNA tests confirm it was his sperm on the maid's clothing. Whatever happened, it occurred quickly, just minutes before he dressed, checked out and left the hotel to meet his daughter for lunch. How did it happen? Was it consensual as he claims? Was the naked 62-year-old man so attractive, the maid just couldn't resist his overtures? What are reasonable people supposed to conclude?
Technically he is innocent until proven guilty. Technically. He's pleaded not guilty but that is not the same as innocent. When it comes to women, some say he has been deceitful his whole adult life. If his reputation as a womanizer means anything, it signifies that powerful men still have the prerogative to treat women as sexual toys. This is not about love affairs. This is about culturally sanctioned exploitation, a mentality that is more than infuriating to civilized women. How can it be that in the 21st century there are still educated, "civilized" men who refuse to accept an ethic that asks for sexual behavior to honor moral responsibility?
Where's the civilization in that?