Must We Tear Down Nafissatou Diallo To Build Up DSK's wife, Anne Sinclair?

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
Aug. 1 2011 4:45 PM

More Disturbing Disdain Toward Nafissatou Diallo       

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Photo by DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Jessica, I also read the New York magazine profile of Anne Sinclair, and while I agree it was fascinating, to me, it was only fascinating for the remarkable amount of disdain it has for Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s alleged victims.

Rachael Larimore Rachael Larimore

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.

But first, I wanted to address the comparisons you drew between Sinclair and Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards. I don’t personally care much what goes on in anyone’s marriage, especially a political marriage, as long as it doesn’t affect me. If Anne Sinclair wants to be the first lady of France, it’s her prerogative. But when it comes to breaking the law, all bets are off. And that is where Sinclair and Clinton diverge from the late Elizabeth Edwards. The “harsh judgment” directed toward Sinclair and, many years ago, toward Hillary Clinton, is justified. They have stood by men accused of far worse things than adultery—remember that it was Paula Jones’ sexual harassment lawsuit against Bill Clinton that gave us the Lewinksy scandal, and that Juanita Broddrick gave an interview to Dateline alleging that Clinton raped her in 1978.

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The New York article repeats the oft-shared Sinclair response to learning of one of DSK’s dalliances—“It is important for a politician to be able to seduce”—but leaves out the part where she said that she was
“rather proud” of his reputation as a womanizer. No word on how she feels about the way he allegedly reacts when he is unable to seduce.

Every time a conservative politician is outed as a philanderer, liberals rail against the hypocrisy. It’s no less hypocritical for liberal women who champion feminist ideals to not only stand by but to vigorously defend their husbands against claims of sexual assault or intimidation.

The New York profile of Sinclair addresses many of the accusations against Strauss-Kahn but does so in such a dismissive tone that it’s only slightly less disturbing than Sinclair’s attitude toward her husband. In a single sentence, Vanessa Grigoriadis bemoans that it’s “terribly humiliating for a woman to tell the world that she’s been sexually abused” before describing Nafissatou Diallo’s interview with ABC News as “a bit rich and clearly calculated as a last-ditch effort to get the D.A.’s office to bring the case.”

Grigoriadis later describes Tristine Banon, another DSK accuser, as “ a moderately employed journalist and the author of a series of semi-autobiographical books.” The other women who’ve accused DSK of impropriety—a member of the French National Assembly, a French actress, a European journalist—are given about as much ink as Sinclair’s shopping trip for $500 espadrilles or a rundown of the Sinclair/Strass-Kahn vacation properties.

Grigoriadis dismisses the idea that “the encounter” between Diallo and DSK was consensual, mocks Diallo’s lawyer, acknowleges that Diallo “may not be a prostitute,” and concludes that “It seems probable to me that Strauss-Kahn acted violently toward Diallo, or at least disdainfully.” Yet she laments that “It’s a sad truth that you cannot take down a man like Strauss-Kahn—even if he’s guilty—unless your past is pristine.” It’s an odd statement considering everything in the article that came before it.

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