You’ve Come A Long Way, Baby

Whatever happened between former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and the immigrant housekeeper he is (still) charged with sexually assaulting earlier this year is likely destined to remain a murky bit of business. He’s got a record as a sexual harasser, she’s admitted to faking rape previously. Stir in the fact that there are plenty of powerful people who had reason want Strauss-Kahn sidelined, and you have a case that will keep everyone from feminists to Bilderberg types debating for years over what really happened in that $3,000 a night luxury suite at the Sofitel Hotel in Midtown Manhattan this past spring.

Yet, almost unbelievably, there is a victory for women in this sorry saga. Yes, a victory. Really.

No one deemed the housekeeper “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty,” as was said about Anita Hill a mere twenty years ago, when she first surfaced to accuse Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment at work. Nor was she dismissed by the powers-that-be as a deranged groupie and stalker, like Monica Lewinsky in the wake of the charges she had had an affair with President Bill Clinton, a character assassination that might well have worked but for the infamous semen-stained dress.  And no one suggested that the housekeeper had “asked for it” by simply opening a door and entering Strauss-Kahn’s room with her cleaning cart.

Instead, this relatively powerless immigrant was believed, at least until the investigators discovered there was possible reason to doubt her veracity. It the reverse of what likely would have happened a little more than a decade ago. Like all successful social change it’s more or less taken for granted, so much so that it’s left to me to point it out on this rather lowly blog. We’ve come a long way. Let’s not forget it.

Photo: Robert Young

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