Thursday, May 19, 2011

Rape, the Legal System and Powerful Men: Athletes, IMF Presidents, and Your Next Door Neighbor

The bottom line is, do we generally believe girls and women when they report that they have been raped? (of course we do
believe without question when
the alleged perpetrator is a pastor, priest, rabbi or woman--)
 (but a testoterone-laden man of entitlement or a rich control freak--whoa nellie. let's not jump to conclusions!)
even if we Know
that they are speaking the truth--more, that they are displaying courage by coming forward, as the consequenses to simply reporting the crime are damaging and significant--
how are the rights of the accused upheld?
Because we abhor the idea that an innocent person is sent to jail, we have safeguards in place in the USA legal system.

I want to discuss the intersection of Power, Sexual assault, Media, and Culture.
First, Watch this, on televsion NBC Today Show this morning.

The strange idea of He Said She Said HERE.

MORE here:

will post more tomorrow...

OK here is Wendy Murphy's take on Dominique Strauss-Kahn

Call me politically incorrect, but the idea that Dominique Strauss-Kahn, (newly deposed director of an international organization that controls hundreds of billions of banking dollars, and lots of countries as a result), had consensual sex with a hotel maid from West Africa is - umm - preposterous.

Charged with sexual assault and attempted rape, among other things, the former head of the IMF, known as DSK, isn't saying much at the moment, but a bunch of minions, friends and spin docs are working full-time to suggest that the maid either set him up for political reasons, is a prostitute, or both. Either way, the trial balloons are flying about how the whole thing was her fault, was totally consensual, and that Mr. Powerful was dominated and victimized by Ms. Disenfranchised.
At least they’re not making like Arnold’s people, telling stories about how doing the nasty with the maid is a form of genuine affection. Strom Thurmond tried that when it came out that he impregnated his 16-year-old black maid. But even Thurmond's BFFs couldn't say with a straight face that there was something romantic going on.
It's not that people don't have cross-racial and cross-class relationships that are loving - or that a "guy like that" wouldn't choose a poor black maid for a hotel hook-up. It's that among all the possible explanations for what probably went on in the hotel room, the sinister prostitute-ish options are far less plausible than the much stronger likelihood that DSK was recovering from an overdose of Viagara and having a little alone time with himself when opportunity knocked. When he saw that opportunity was wearing a skirt, he pounced.
That he skee-daddled so fast after the maid fled the room that he left his cell-phone at the hotel, says plenty about whether the maid was having a good time.
Now that charges are filed, we have no choice but to sit back and listen to defense shills spin nonsense about how the maid was hired for “special services” (just watch the stories unfold about how "West African women” in that area are prostitutes.) Blink your eyes and the maid will become a hooker, and then listen to the PR pros say things like "you know what those those people are like." And just watch the arrogant parade of racist apologists imply that dark-skinned women are insatiable and that "regular guys" can't be blamed for their actions when overcome by such sexual sirens.

Blah blah blah.
Let's be honest for a minute before the whole thing becomes an international dog and pony show. Actually, "dog and pony" doesn't quite make the point. For a guy with the power and influence of DSK, it will be more like a tsunami and tidal wave show. Kobe Bryant's defense tactics will seem downright gentle by comparison.

At the moment, at least, there's a three-letter reality that says everything about why the maid will soon be destroyed in the press: DNA. When DNA proves that an act occurred - and establishes who did it - there is only one defense: "she wanted it." Getting the public on board with such a defense will require DSK’s people to provide a plausible narrative to explain why a guy like Strauss-Kahn would be interested in consensual sex with a hotel maid. Since nobody will believe Hollywood-generated explanations a la “Maid in Manhattan” and “Pretty Woman”, Strauss-Kahn has no choice (other than accepting responsibility but his lawyers won’t make nearly enough money off a guilty plea) but to paint the maid as an aggressive whore. And because she reportedly suffered injuries, she’ll soon be an aggressive whore who "likes it rough". Thanks to mainstream pornographers, that dumb-ass defense will probably stick (albeit only with dumb-ass jurors).
It's also possible the whole vile story will go "poof" now that DSK is out on bail. Even with an electronic bracelet and armed guards minding his every move 24/7, he is free enough to find a way to influence the maid to develop cold feet. Though influencing a witness not to testify is a crime known as obstruction of justice, our legal system has amply demonstrated its willingness to turn a blind eye to pay-offs in sex-crime cases when the perpetrator is a man of wealth or influence. Embarrassing, I know. And with the whole world watching, such a result would surely diminish an already fading respect for the American legal system - in decline since O.J. and picking up speed. It's hard to know what would be worse - watching a million dollar defense team destroy a vulnerable victim's emotional well-being, or watching a poor minority woman pocket a bundle of cash in exchange for her dignity and her truth.

Here's hoping the same inner strength and sense of morality that inspired her to call police will help her resist cash-driven efforts to make the case go away. Her friends say she is an honest woman of integrity. If so, she will understand that criminal justice, like human beings, is not for sale."

more tomorrow

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