Last Friday, Dominique Strauss-Kahn (from here, DSK), ex-head of the IMF and the "rutting chimpanzee" described by Banon's mother - Banon being one of his two accusers of rape - spoke at Cambridge Union, the debating society based in the city of Cambridge. Outside, a crowd gathered and protested his invite. I write to outline why I must assume that - even if DSK committed no physical attack on Nafissatou Diallo - he is extremely likely to rape or have raped someone.
I obviously have no special knowledge of DSK. I shan't even claim that he is worse than any other person that has sex with hotel maids. I don't wish to suggest he ought be tried in court, although I do hope that he remains entirely unemployable.
(Does no-one else find it slightly sad that he had been invited to Cambridge Union to speak for some large length of time - years, in fact - but only found the time after his economic and political careers lay in ruins? Cambridge Union might think they have capitalised on an accusation of rape, or perhaps even that they genuinely did bag a world leader to speak, but what they actually got was a tattered, soiled ghost of a man - an archetypical has-been. For shame, Cambridge Union - are these the heights that you claim?)
Imagine that you are a maid in a hotel in New York city. You cannot read, and you are an illegal immigrant. Your state has essentially no protections for employees - in particular in the US you have the doctrine which says both the employer and employee may terminate any contract at any time, which in practise heavily favours the employer - and if you get fired, you don't have any healthcare. On the plus side, if you get fired you might starve before you get ill.
It's not an extreme example; hotel maids are likely to be people who are disadvantaged. I have, I imagine, just described a good chunk of all hotel maids living in New York city.
The point is you really, really need that job. And if you're sent to a very rich, very influential guest's room and he ends up unhappy for whatever reason...
Well, if he's a bad man, he might say he caught you rifling through his drawers looking for money. He doesn't want to press charges, of course, but your job would vanish like your right to access hormonal birth control, and you would end up screwed. There are lots of bad men in the world and it's literally vital to you that you don't get fired.
Let's flip perspectives, now. You're a world famous rich guy who loooves sex between enthusiastic consenting parties.
How would you tell she had consented?
I can't think of a way. I cannot think of a single thing a hotel maid could say to me that would convince me that she consented to sex - not without maybe showing me her bank balance, explaining local employment law and telling me about how her super-nice boss definitely isn't her pimp and won't fire her for taking random sex-breaks during the working day. I'm serious. If she didn't tell me those things I'd have to assume she was just too frightened of the important guest complaining and completely destroying her life to say no. Can you think of a way? Can you imagine being comfortable having sex without being satisfied there was mutual consent?
Coercive sex is sexual assault. It may be considered rape, depending on one's location. If you, asking hotel maids for sex, do not know if you are offering them a good time, sexually harassing them or coercing them for sex then you are a bad person and - if you do this repeatedly in several hotels - you are likely to have raped someone, either knowingly or due to your negligence. I am not criticising prostitutes in this post: I am criticising men who ask for sex from people who cannot refuse.
I don't know if DSK is a rapist or a liar; no court has yet seen fit to try him. I do know that he disgusts me.