[News] DSK - Feminists Demand Freedom from Sexual Assault and Harassment & The Colonial Predator Legacy
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 24 17:13:35 EDT 2011
2 articles follow
PLEASE SIGN THIS STATEMENT: Feminists Demand
Freedom from Sexual Assault and Harassment
Feminists Demand Freedom from Sexual Assault and Harassment
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.
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-Kahns 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.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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