"The Strauss-Kahn affair and the culture of privacy: mistreating and misrepresenting women in the French public sphere"
The 2011 prosecution in New York City of former IMF chief and potential French presidential challenger Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) for charges of ‘non-consensual forced sexual acts’ on hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo became a transnational affair. The ‘malestream discourse’ that swept through the French media shortly thereafter revealed a stubborn tolerance for sexual violence rooted in French history and public philosophy. A culture of privacy and privilege inherited from the monarchy, incompletely challenged by the revolution, has left the republic with a public philosophy glorifying a masculine form of virile citizenship confining women to the private sphere. This has led to a partially democratized polity and a malfunctioning of the public sphere. From a political theory perspective, and based on content analysis, the article shows how the DSK Affair exemplifies the simultaneous over-publicization and over-privatization at work in the French Republic, leading to both the misrepresentation of women in politics and an anachronistic understatement of their private-sexual mistreatment.