Another woman accuses DSK

French writer Tristane Banon has announced she is filing a lawsuit against Dominique Strauss-Kahn for attempted rape.  (DSK is apparently responding by filing a defamation countersuit.) One of the most striking things about this new development is the attitude toward public accusation expressed by Banon, particularly the fear that she would not be believed. She is quoted as saying:

“For me it has become unbearable. And today, to see Strauss-Kahn no sooner free than eating in a luxury restaurant with friends makes me ill. . .For once I want to have control over what is happening to me. I want to be heard because perhaps, finally, there’s a chance I will be listened to.”

She further explained her previous reluctance to come forward with a public accusation by saying:

“I didn’t want to be known to the end of my days as the girl who had a problem with the politician.”

So sad. So unsurprising.

The Guardian has more details of Banon’s comments here.

15 thoughts on “Another woman accuses DSK

  1. I meant that Banon’s fear and reluctance to press charges against DSK are both sad (women shouldn’t have to fear pressing rape charges) and unsurprising (given how we tend to treat the women that do come forward). Sorry if that was unclear.

  2. Interesting.

    So, if the woman who accused DSK turns out to have lied in her allegations, how many years in prison do you think she should get?

  3. To Crude,

    The issue under discussion here is how women who come forward to speak of their experiences of sexual assault are treated. The issue is not that of false allegations. It is interesting how quickly you shifted the terms of discussion (almost as if any discussion of rape or sexual assault is automatically one of falsehood) and your response is typical of how rape, molest and sexual assault victims have traditionally been treated. Responses exactly like yours are what are unsurprising and sad.

    For the record, I’d be perfectly happy to see people make false allegations of ANY kind get the maximum sentence the person they falsely accused would have gotten for the crime under consideration.

  4. There’s no question that rape victims are and have often been treated horribly. That’s a fact about rape generally. But magicalersatz’s language in this post (“so sad. so unsurprising”) only makes sense on the presumption that DSK is guilty in this particular case–and that, I take it, is what Crude finds questionable. I’m not sure I disagree.

  5. That a woman expresses fear and ambivalence about bringing public rape charges against a powerful man — and feels no need to explain such fear, because it’s so obvious why she’d feel it — is something I can find deeply sad without presupposing DSK’s guilt.

    Banon may, of course, be lying about her fear, just as she may be lying about the attempted rape. But in the absence of evidence to the contrary, I tend to take people at their word when they speak about their own emotional state. So I’m going to remain saddened by Banon’s remarks.

  6. “The issue under discussion here is how women who come forward to speak of their experiences of sexual assault are treated.”

    A woman “came forward to speak of her experiences of sexual assault” re: DSK. And I saw many people accuse the guy of being a scumbag, then and there. Now, I thought he was kind of a rat right off the bat for unrelated reasons, but I felt odd condemning the guy instantly based on an accusation that was not deeply investigated. That whole ‘innocent until proven guilty’ thing, especially when at the moment all I had was his word against hers.

    Now it’s starting to look like his accuser was lying – it’s a very live possibility. And, without batting an eye, you immediately talk about how sad it is that Banon is saying what she’s saying, with the automatic assumption that she’s telling the truth? That, God forbid, people may withhold judgment until all the details are aired?

    Let me put it to you this way: You’re complaining about the treatment of women who come forward to speak of their experiences of sexual assault. Alright: How should we treat women who come forward and lie about their experiences of sexual assault? Should we treat them the same? Differently? And how do we tell the difference between the two?

    It sounds like the best course of action is to suspend judgment until we’re able to see and evaluate the evidence. And even then, we still need a trial and an investigation.

    By the way: “It is interesting how quickly you shifted the terms of discussion (almost as if any discussion of rape or sexual assault is automatically one of falsehood) and your response is typical of how rape, molest and sexual assault victims have traditionally been treated.” What a complete load of crap. ‘As if any discussion of rape or sexual assault is automatically one of falsehood’? Where did I say this – where did I even remotely imply it? It’s enough for an accusation of rape or sexual assault to possibly be one of falsehood, particularly when all we have at the moment is an accusation – that should give us pause. But apparently you regard it as a damn shame that a woman’s accusation of rape or sexual assault not be assumed true unless proven wrong.

    Finally… “In the absence of evidence to the contrary, I tend to take people at their word when they speak about their own emotional state.” So, if DSK talks about how mortified he is about the (according to him) lies this woman is telling, you’re going to believe both DSK’s testimony about being mortified at being lied about, and Banon’s testimony about her fear and ambivalence about bringing forth her (according to her, true) rape charges? Wait, let me guess – in that case we’d have evidence to the contrary. Aka, Banon’s accusation.


    Bingo, more or less. What’s boggling me here is that we’re talking about the same man, who as we speak is (according to the coverage) having the case against him fall apart, or at the very least look far shakier than it did at first. But hey, here’s a fresh accusation, let’s all accept THIS testimony with minimal reflection?

    And again, I’m not saying ‘clearly we should regard Banon as lying’ either. I’m saying we should wait, see the evidence, and see the investigation. And if it turns out that DSK is a rapist, I assume France has ways of dealing with such people. On the flipside, if Banon turned out to be lying, then let her pay her dues.

  7. Crude, I think much of what the folks are saying in response to you comes from: a.) the extreme rarity of women fabricating rape allegations; and b.) the severely under-reporting of rape and sexual assault and the (quite justified) concern that widespread questioning of sexual assault victims will keep the reporting rates down.

    It might also be worth noting that there’s a big distinction between saying that the accuser of DSK has done some things that have put the chances of prosecution of DSK into serious doubt (which has certainly happened, and I think the chances of prosecution are rather low now…) and saying that there’s evidence that she’s lying (there’s really not much of this as of yet, and the prosecutors are still rather convinced that a sexual assault took place).

  8. Matt,

    A) What’s the source of this claim?
    B) Are you telling me that we must assume a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ stance with anyone accused of rape, if for a good cause?

    And honestly, the distinction isn’t very big. ‘The accuser of DSK has done some things that have put the chances of prosecution of DSK into serious doubt’ in this case cashes out to ‘the prosecutors either suspect or know she’s been lying about a number of things, which is damaging her testimony’s credibility.’ Is it certain she’s lying about the assault? No. But it’s not as if her mistake here was “she took a shower right after the incident and accidentally got rid of vital evidence that could be used to prosecute DSK”. And one thing she’s at least suspected of is, if I’m reading the news right, lying about a gang rape to get asylum in the US. That’s a hell of a thing in this context.

    I mean, the impression I’m getting off you – correct me if I’m wrong – is “DSK is a rapist. Even if the case utterly falls apart because the maid’s credibility is shot and the rest of the evidence is too scant, we should regard him as a man who got away with rape. Doubting the maid’s claims, even if her credibility is shot, is misogynistic.” Am I reading you right? And if not, at what point do you think it’s reasonable to at least say the case against DSK in this situation was not proven, much less that he’s likely innocent?

  9. Dude, the idea is that it’s sad that women have to feel apprehensive about reporting sexual assault and rape. It’s unsurprising, however, because of the way we tend to treat women who do so.

    Obviously one of either Banon or DSK is attempting to deceive us. If it’s Banon, then she is setting women back by reinforcing harmful stereotypes and should probably suffer some kind of punishment (how about, I dunno, a defamation suit). Given that DSK has relatively infinite resources and that Banon will probably suffer *regardless* of whether she’s telling the truth, I would think we can spare her some sympathy in a post on a niche Internet blog.

  10. Jay,

    If this was just some general statement of sadness about women supposedly feeling apprehensive, I wouldn’t have brought it up. I even asked for some clarification about just what was ‘sad’, and I was surprised to see what basically amounted to an assumption that Banon was telling the truth.

    Yes, this is a niche internet blog. You think I’m under the impression I’m fighting a battle of any kind here? I stumbled here out of interest, made a passing comment, I’m sticking around a bit. Trust me, I’ll be back to my usual haunts in a moment. Sooner than that, perhaps. Hell, tell me to go and I’ll leave without complaint. Not sure who’s even running this place.

    And DSK has infinite sources? First of all, Banon’s not exactly without her share of connections. Second, that didn’t keep his ass out of house arrest in New York, now did it? Even if it turns out that the maid’s story isn’t credible. Further, Banon will suffer *regardless*? And DSK won’t? Because, what – no one is ever harmed by mere allegations? Because suing for defamation undoes all the damage if the charge was false? Or is it that we all know DSK is a rat deep down inside, and if he’s falsely accused and suffers for that, it’s probably just karma for other behavior that he got away with?

    Really, I’m taking a pretty mundane position here. “We should be silent in the event of a mere accusation, and see how the evidence plays out.” I thought that’d be especially clear given how the NY case is shaping up – apparently not.

  11. Well, this isn’t a mere accusation. “DSK raped me” is a mere accusation. Banon has come forward because she can no longer contain her rage, ostensibly after suffering years of internal turmoil that countless women have described in similar situations. For a feminist blog to describe this as “sad and unsurprising” seems pretty reasonable. If it turns out she duped us, perhaps that will teach us to be more circumspect in the future – but probably not, because I think most of us feel that this sort of thing happens often enough to still be deserving of some benefit of the doubt. Anyway, I don’t see much reason to think that we’ll even learn the truth of either of these DSK cases. Court proceedings might give us more to go on, but they hardly settle what is true.

    I’m glad you brought up the consequences to DSK of the maid’s accusations. Personally, I think they’re pretty laughable. I expect my treatment would play out slightly differently had I been accused similarly. Moreover, while some people certainly suffer pretty badly as a result of false accusations, it’s not at all clear that he’s in a worse position now than he was before. Early retirement and hero-status in his home country? Discussions of a presidential bid for this victimized everyman? I think a clever person could probably come up with a pretty solid movie plot for his conspiring with the maid himself to have made the accusation.

  12. Yes, it is mere accusation. It’s not as if the professional novelist writing a stirring condemnation of the man she’s accusing suddenly means “Well, we have plenty of evidence now”. And we’ll never learn the truth? Okay, so… what, we can just believe whatever we want? I mean, apparently we’ve learned enough of the truth from past court cases to talk about how common this all is. I hope that’s not based on court cases or similar data, since those hardly settle what is true, right?

    Yeah, you no doubt would have had different treatment in a similar case. The rape accusation probably would have been a lot more prominent, and the fact that the accuser’s credibility fell apart would have been trumpeted far less. But hey, maybe you’d have just pleaded guilty to take one for the feminist team (because, I suppose, only feminists care about rape now)? The man was discussing a presidential bid BEFORE all this took place. He was the head of the IMF – didn’t he resign immediately after this got rolling?

    Again, my attitude is that when all we have is an accusation and no evidence, we should probably not pre-judge in either direction. And I found it bizarre that, with hardly a day passing before one accusation against him seems to have gotten a lot more complicated (Again, the reports are this woman lied about a gang rape in the past. Doesn’t that qualify her for some serious condemnation if that’s borne out, particularly from feminists?), a new charge comes up and the response is immediately to just assume she’s telling the truth.

    I’ll just wait for the blog entry, if the maid ends up recanting her story or being undeniably exposed as lying, about how terrible it is that the media made such a circus out of this poor maid having a lapse in judgment, and how by making a woman falsely accusing a man of rape into a villain the media is punishing rape victims everywhere. I’d think that’s a few logic twists in logic too many, but hey, maybe I’ll be proven wrong.

  13. Alright, Crude. I’m going to try one more time. The sadness I’ve expressed is sadness at Banon’s *comments* (so, not sadness for Banon having been raped, or something similar; I can and do feel sympathy for a woman who tells a heartfelt story of having been raped without automatically assuming the guilt of the man she’s accusing, but that’s not what’s at issue here). That a woman expresses fear at a public rape accusation — fear that she will not be believed and that the ordeal will ruin her career — and that such fear is taken as a perfectly good, perfectly obvious reason for why she wouldn’t have come forward sooner saddens me. Her profession of fear wasn’t met with puzzlement or further questions of “But why would you feel that way? What is there to be scared of?” Of course it wasn’t. Because the fear she expressed is perfectly reasonable, given how we treat rape victims, and is a compelling part of why so many rape victims remain silent.

    So once more with feeling: the sadness evoked by Banon’s comments could and would remain *even if she’s lying about what happened with DSK*. And that’s because her comments are evocative of how we treat rape victims, and how much pressure there is on women who speak publicly about rape.

    I doubt anything I’ve said here — or anything others might say to you — will allay your concerns. You seem intent on forcing a specific point while interpreting others uncharitably. That being said, this is the last time I’m going to respond to you. Any further comments I’ll just ignore. Other commenters can do what they like (but I’d suggest it’s a waste of time, folks).

  14. thank you @magicalersatz – when i heard about this i absolutely and emphatically admire Tristane Banon’s courage and i truly hope to see “some justice” at least in her case.

    imho comments like Crude are OT and use derailing, described here

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