[News] DSK - Feminists Demand Freedom from Sexual Assault and Harassment & The Colonial Predator Legacy

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 24 17:13:35 EDT 2011

2 articles follow

Freedom from Sexual Assault and Harassment


Feminists Demand Freedom from Sexual Assault and Harassment
We agree:
Rape is always about power and domination; it is sexualized violence.

Rape and sexual harassment of women are pervasive 
at all strata of society and in all corners of 
the globe. Women will never be fully free and 
able to enjoy equality with men until this ends. 
As feminists, we see the arrest of former 
International Monetary Fund director Dominique 
Strauss-Kahn on sexual assault charges as an 
opportunity to increase public awareness and as a 
wake-up call to renew action against sexual 
violence, not only in the US where his arrest 
occurred and in France, where media and many 
public figures are portraying him as the victim, but around the world.

We join French feminists in saying that just as 
Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty, his 
accuser must also be respected and believed to be 
credible unless proven false. We commend her 
employer, Sofitel, and the action of the NYC 
Police for taking her complaint seriously. We 
call for feminists around the world to join with 
her union (New York Hotel and Motel Trades 
Council Local 6) in collecting funds for legal 
and daily expenses, as her work is now curbed and 
life circumstances vastly altered. Contributions 
can be sent to Judson Memorial Church (attention 
Women's Fund) 55 Washington Square South, New York, NY 10012-1018.

We also share French feminist indignation at the 
deliberate and opportunistic confusion of 
seduction and sexual violence, from 
Strauss-Kahn's declaration that he "loves women," 
to the journalists and politicians who rally 
behind this "Great Seducer." It is outrageous 
that the allegation of attempted rape during the 
course of a housekeeper's work day raises issues 
about any woman's life story and sexual history. 
And portraying powerful Strauss-Kahn as "too 
civilized" to commit a violent crime plays upon 
colonial and racist stereotypes vis-à-vis an African immigrant woman.

We adamantly oppose all harassment, sexual 
violence and rape, and we know that when there is 
a large discrepancy between the power, the wealth 
and racial hierarchy of the parties involved, 
justice is even harder to come by. All rapists 
and harassers believe they are entitled, and 
often when they are part of the power elite they 
assume that influence will outweigh the legal 
protection and freedom from coercion all women 
should enjoy. Feminists around the world demand that justice be done.

Women of all countries, unite!

This statement was initiated by the following feminists:

Bettina Aptheker, CA, U.S.
Lori Askeland, OH, U.S.
Eleanor J. Bader, NY, U.S.
Rosalyn Baxandall, NY, U.S.
Halina Bendkowski, Berlin, Germany
Saliha Boussédra, Toulouse, France
Eileen Boris, CA, U.S.
Ariel Dougherty, NM, U.S.
Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz, CA, U.S.
Judith Ezekiel, Toulouse, France
Francisca de Haan, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Myrna Hill, CA, U.S.
Merle Hoffman, NY, U.S.
Barrie Karp, NY, U.S.
Bea Kreloff, NY, U.S.
Tobe Levin von Gleichen, Frankfurt, Germany
Ilana Lowy, Paris France
Fran Luck, NY, U.S.
Claire G. Moses, VA, U.S.
Marge Piercy, MA, U.S.
Fanette Pollack, NY, U.S.
Marilyn Porter, Newfoundland, Canada
Deborah Rosenfelt, MD, US
Kathryn Scarbrough, NJ, U.S.
Donna Schaper, NY, U.S.
Lise Vogel, NY, U.S.
Suzanna Walters, IN, U.S.
Naomi Weisstein, NY, U.S.
Barbara Winslow, NY, U.S.
Laura X, CA, U.S.

Also signed by
Carol Hanisch, NY, U.S.
Jane Barry, PA, U.S.
Nancy Krieger, MA, U.S.
Vicki Nichols, VA, U.S.
Mary Carlson, CA, U.S.
Shailja Patel, Nairobi, Kenya
Elaine Shinbrot, NJ, U.S.
Barbara Rylko-Bauer, MI, U.S.
Amanda Frisken, NY, U.S.
Dabney Evans, GA, U.S.
Trude Bennett, NC, U.S.
Amy Kessleman , NY, U.S.
Therese McGinn, NY, U.S.
Carolina Neiva Viancello, Brussels, Belgium
Comfort Momoh, London, UK
Naana Otoo-Otortoy, London, UK
Abebah Tekleab, Stockholm, Sweden
Khady Koita, Tervuren, Belgium
Ambara Hashi Nur, Aarhus, Denmark
Etenesh Hadis, Vienna, Austria
Batulo Essek, Helsinki, Finland
Julie Kakiese, Brussels, Belgium
Fana Habteab, Uppsala, Sweden
Maretta Short, NJ, USA
Martha Vicinus, MA, USA
Rosalind Petchesky, NY, U.S.
Lauri Andress, TX, U.S
Susan Reverby, MA, U.S.
Leslie Dubbin, CA, U.S.
Ellen Ross, NY, U.S.
Temma Kaplan, NY, U.S.
Troy Shinbrot, NJ, U.S.
Roberta Salper, MA, U.S.
Stephanie Gilmore, DE, U.S.
Susan Brownmiller, NY, U.S.
Laura Anker, NY, U.S.
Kathleen Slaon, CT, U.S.
Chris Coombe, MI, US
Abby Lippman, Quebec, Canada
Linda Stein, NY, U.S.
Rosemary Szegda, NJ, U.S.
Estelle Regolsky, MA, U.S.
Brigitte Bramie, Paris France
Guylène Deasy, NC, U.S.
Monique Dental, Paris, France.
Alice Ngyone Endamne, CA, U.S.
Jules Falquet, Paris, France
Suzy Rojtman, Paris, France
Maya Surduts, Paris, France.
Anne-Marie Viossat, Paris, France
Rebecca Whisnant, OH, US
Bronwyn Winter, Sydney Australia
Estelle B. Freedman, CA, U.S.
Anne-Emanuelle Birn, Ontario, Canada
Juliet Ash, London, England
Barbara Garson, NY, U.S.
Laura Flanders, NY, U.S.
Marilyn Zivian, CA, U.S.
Nísia Trindade Lima, Rio de Janeiro, Brasil
Heather Booth, Washington, DC, U.S.
Eve Ensler, Paris, France
Leila J. Rupp, CA, U.S.
Kathryn Kish Sklar, NY, U.S.
Joan Ditzion, MA, U.S.
Sonia Fuentes, FL, U.S.
Chandra L. Ford, CA, U.S.
Aida Hurtado, CA, U.S.
Alison Williams, NJ, U.S.
Elizabeth Pleck, IL, U.S.
Shelley Fisher Fishkin CA, U.S.
Leslie J. Reagan, IL, U.S.
Leisa D. Meyer, VA, U.S.
Katha Pollitt, NY, U.S.
Yanar Mohammed, Baghdad, Iraq
Sonia Jaffe Robbins, NY, U.S.
Alia Shinbrough, NJ, U.S.
JoAnn Jaffe, Saskatchewan, CA
Dee Appleby, SC, U.S.
William Scarbrough III, SC, U.S.
Teresa Scarbrough, CA, U.S.
Patricia Rackowski, Boston, MA
Nalini Visvanathan, Washington, DC
Barbara M. Sow, Dakar Senegal
Beth E. Rivin, Seattle, Washington, USA
Ana María Carrillo Farga, Mexico
Alison Katz, Geneva, Switzerland
Megan McLaughlin, IL, U.S.
Fatou Sow, Dakar Senegal
Dula F. Pacquiao, NJ, U.S.
Inti Maria Tidball-Binz, Bs As, Argentina
Emily May, NY, U.S.
Evelyn Torton Beck, Washington, DC USA
Dana Rabin, IL, U.S.
Sarah E. Huertas, San Juan, Puerto Rico
Jesse Lemisch, NY, U.S.
Joséphine Soumah, France
Claire Bond Potter, CT U.S.
Carina Ray, NJ, U.S.
Deborah Rossum, IA, U.S.
Maria E. Cotera, MI, U.S.
Barbara Molony, CA, U.S.
Kristy Rawson, MI, U.S.
Antoinette Burton, IL, U.S.
Mary Nolan, NY, U.S.
Ruth Rosen, CA, U.S.
Julie Laut, IL, U.S.
Erik McDuffie, IL, U.S.
Yxta Maya Murray, CA, U.S.
Jo Salas, NY, U.S.
Barbara Leon, CA, U.S.
Edwina Barvosa, CA, U.S.
Maureen H. Williams, CA, U,S,
Bob Weil, CA, U.S.
Anica Leon-Weil, CA, U.S.
Finn Mackay, Bristol, England

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: The Colonial Predator Legacy

By James Petras

May 23, 2011 
Clearing House" -- The attempted rape and sexual 
abuse of an African cleaning woman by the 
Managing Director of the International Monetary 
Fund, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) embodies, in 
microcosm, the entire historical and contemporary 
legacy of colonial neo-colonial relations. 
Efforts to portray this criminal act as an 
individual obsession or a personal failing or a 
“Latin idiosyncrasy” fail to take account of the 
‘deep history’ in which these psychological pathologies are embedded.

The first clue is evident on the very surface – 
skin deep – of the antagonists: On the one-hand, 
a powerful white European politician representing 
the collective will of an organization 
representing the global capitalist class, one 
with the financial resources to severely punish 
poor and indebted countries that disobey its 
prejudicial economic fiats; on the other, a 
single mother, a black working woman from a 
former French colony in West Africa (Guinea), 
which was ‘stripped clean’ by the departing 
French colonial officials for daring to assert 
its independence and subsequently forced to 
submit to endless ‘neo-colonial’ economic 
impositions ensuring its stagnation and subordination.

Was it “lunacy”, as Martin Wolf of the Financial 
Times would claim, that DSK would throw over a 
powerful, prestigious post and likely the 
Presidency of France, for a moment of violent 
sex? Or was it the playing out, and living 
through, the historical roles, deeply embedded in 
the psyche and cultural mores of a descendant and 
practioner of colonial realities: imposing his 
sexual demands on a ‘black servant’. No doubt the 
fact that the cleaning woman spoke French and 
came from a former French colony, one which had 
suffered numerous subsequent ‘French’ and IMF 
impositions, gave the powerful predator the sense 
of ‘entitlement’ to prey on black flesh, just as 
so many of his compatriot predecessor officials 
had done to ‘their’ servants in the course of 
administrating the colony. No doubt, in more 
recent times , it is common for top officials 
from international financial institutions 
visiting Africa to pad their expense accounts by 
hiring hookers to “service them,” while they 
impose austerity policies impoverishing countries 
and forcing millions to flee overseas in search 
of menial labor 
 as cleaning workers in luxury 
hotels. “Colonial familiarity”, the ‘shared’ 
language of oppressor and victim – perhaps 
excited the perverse sexual obsession.

The Colonial Legacy: The Social Psychology of Rape

The history of the European, and later US, 
colonial conquests, imperial wars and military 
occupations is a story of plunder, enslavement, 
exploitation and, above all, assertion of 
supremacy and power. Profits and pleasure accrue 
to the big mining and banking executives as well 
as colonial officials, especially among those in 
the upwardly mobile middle class who see in their 
new found power a chance to satisfy the whims and 
fancies denied them in their ‘home’ cities and 
among their domestic families and friends.

The absolute power of the colonial administrators 
allows them to secure total submission from those 
who are powerless – the single African women 
isolated from family, friends – before the Courts 
of Justice and denied equality .The latter is 
subject to firing, blacklisting, unemployment, 
intimidation, humiliation and insults for daring 
to denounce their colonial superiors. These 
circumstances and relations are reproduced today 
in all the countries subject to the dictate of 
the IMF, the Central Bank of Europe and the US Treasury.

Contemporary Neocolonialism: They Come, They Plunder, They Rape

The IMF and their imperial financial accomplices 
take advantage of the debts and crises of corrupt 
and complicit rulers to dictate terms for loans. 
The top officials seize sovereignty and impose 
economic policies, which privatize and 
de-nationalize the entire economy, reduce wages 
and pensions, worsen working conditions and 
retain a veto on all local economic appointees. 
The IMF and Central Banks re-colonize the debtor 
country: All earnings from trade and investment 
are primarily directed outward and upward. The 
neo-colonial division of labor involves imperial capital and black labor.

Embedded in this world-historic system of power, 
the powerful officials of international 
organizations have the financial and military 
backing of the US and the EU: the Directors are 
appointed by Euro-Americans and they enforce the 
rules of the game by which they prosper. As close 
collaborators and past and future partners of the 
private corporate wealthy, and likely political 
leaders in imperial regimes, the ‘international 
officials’ live and share the power, wealth, 
luxury and perks of the very wealth. They fly 
first class and they stay at the most luxurious 
suites in 5-star hotels. They are treated by 
their debtor ‘hosts’ as royalty. Above all, they 
are used to being obeyed: They expect submission. 
They believe their whims and perversions are 
‘natural outgrowths’ of their ‘healthy appetites’ 
stimulated by their high-energy travels, frequent 
meetings and forcible dictates. If the top local 
officials of a debtor nation submit, who are the 
cleaning women to object? They should be honored 
to be chosen “to serve” the makers and breakers 
of entire economies and the livelihoods of millions.

The Resistance

DSK, the imposing ruler over the major global 
financial institution, did not expect his sexual 
advances to be resisted by an immigrant, a former 
French colonial subject. Initially denied 
submission, DSK relied on force and violence. 
Just as when workers and the unemployed launch 
general strikes and mass protests against 
IMF-dictated austerity programs, the regimes 
order the police and armed forces to impose 
subjection through violence. The black cleaning 
worker did not struggle and then submit, as too 
often is the case with workers’ movements. She 
made her outrage a public issue – she un-masked 
the violent criminal behavior that lay behind the 
respectable, affluent facade. She confronted the 
ruler before the larger democratic public. The 
public face of international finance capital, the 
head of the same predatory institution that rapes 
entire working populations in the name of vacuous 
euphemisms (“financial stabilization”) is nothing 
less than a crude crotch grabber – a sleazy lecher.

How many millions of Indo-Chinese and Algerian 
working-class and peasant women and their 
descendants, who suffered similar indignities 
during the French colonial administrations, must 
now feel vindicated by the simple act of 
denunciation by the Guinean cleaning woman, so 
far from Africa, but so close to the hearts of 
rebellion against the universal injustices 
inflicted daily by the IMF and its local accomplices!

The Reactions of the Left: the French Socialists)

Not surprisingly, the majority of French 
“Socialist” opinion has defended DSK and accused 
his victim, the black African working woman, of 
being part of a sinister capitalist conspiracy 
against the principle chosen mouthpiece and enforcer of international capital.

The French Socialist Party has a long and sordid 
history of supporting bloody colonial wars: 
Indo-China, Algeria and dozens of military 
interventions in Africa. Today they support the 
wars against Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan. As 
always, there are “dissidents”, left-wingers, 
“critical” intellectuals and “Trotskyist” 
factions who speak for the “rights” of the 
accused, as well the victim, but who looked to 
DSK, the head of the IMF and his millionaire 
backers, as their ticket back to the Palace 
Elysee, the Presidency and the spoils of office.

“Colonial Socialism” in Europe, like “imperial 
liberalism” in the US, has a long and ignoble 
history: Both ‘trust’ the word of innocence of an 
indicted financier over the accusations of an 
immigrant black cleaning woman, which is not too 
surprising. They have a history of converting 
criminals into victims and the victims into criminal

One has only to look at the French Socialists and 
US Liberals support for Israeli colonialist over 
the Palestinians “terrorists”; or NATO occupiers 
against the Afghan resistance; or Tunisian 
autocrats over pro-democracy protestors.

The fact that sectors of the ‘left’ in France and 
America can claim DSK as a victim of some ‘elite 
conspiracy’ is a clear sign of their total and 
complete degeneracy and the perversion of any 
semblance of progressive sentiment. Under 
Strauss-Kahn’s dictates the IMF has imposed the 
most reactionary social cuts in recent history on 
Spain, Greece, and Portugal: Unemployment is 45% 
for under-30 year-olds in Spain and overall 22%; 
in Greece 16% and Portugal 13%. Pensions have 
been reduced by 15% and wages by a similar or 
greater amount. Vast sectors of the Greek 
economy, valued at 50 billion Euros are to be 
privatized, as DSK plays to the private 
multi-nationals. Under IMF austerity policies 
Southern European economies are regressing – as 
public investments and private consumption shrink 
and negative growth rates hover between 5% - 10% 
over the past 3 years with no end in sight.

If there is any ‘conspiracy’ to frame DSK it 
certainly does not come from any ‘elite’ or 
‘banking cartel’. What is much more likely, is 
that after the initial jailing and indictment, 
the financial powers backing DSK will move into 
action – they have secured his conditional 
release under bail; the victim and accuser has 
been subject to intense police interrogation and 
more ‘media’ and legal pressure can be expected 
to force her to retract charges. The legal system 
rarely ever works in favor of working-class 
victims facing a high powered legal team backing 
a millionaire predator, especially one who speaks 
and works for the international capitalist class.

James Petras is a retired Bartle Professor 
(Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, 
SUNY, New York, U.S., and adjunct professor at 
Saint Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, 
Canada who has published prolifically on Latin 
American and Middle Eastern political issues. 
Petras received his B.A. from Boston University 
and Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley.

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