20 May 2011

DSK summed up in comics

The news story of the week has been former IMF chief, Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his purported philanderings with a cleaning lady in a posh NYC hotel room.  It has definitely been an interesting cultural experience, being an American surrounded by the French.  The morning it happened, I was with Fab's family, and it seemed like everyone was sure it was a trap.  That someone had paid this woman to pretend that DSK had sexually harrassed and assaulted her.  Or maybe he had a tumor that made him do crazy things!  At one point, there was the admission that he had been known for his love of women in the past.  But all the more reason for his political enemies to send someone to trap him!  They knew his weakness! 

Had I been sitting around that same breakfast table, but in the United States, I think I would of heard, "He can't keep it in his pants!" or "He needs to resign from the IMF..." or "Typical Frenchman..."

Many people around me here in Paris are appalled by all the pictures being shown of DSK in handcuffs, being treated like an already convicted criminal. (In France, it is illegal to show such pictures when someone is arrested because it presumes guilt).  In the US, when we hear that a politicians possibly commited a sexually subversive act, we are immediately appalled and their career is over quickly.  In France, an affair or even a politician who openly writes that he frequents very young prostitutes in Thailand, is either not a big deal because it is the politician's personal life, or the politician is punished, but he eventually makes a return to the political realm.  Basically, the overall sentiment in the press, and my circle of friends, seems to be one of sympathy, shock, and belief that the American legal system is incredibly flawed and presumes guilt before innocence rather than the other way around.  But they are waiting to see what happens. 

You can't believe how many times I have had to explain the concept of bail, a grand jury, and indictment.

I leave you with some funny cartoons that got passed around at the office.

I've come to clean the room!...

How it really happened...


  1. Hi Erin! Yes indeed, there is definitely a cultural difference when it comes to this story. Since I don't speak much French, my husband has been relaying what the press is saying here. I hate to tell the French that the US really doesn't care about French politics and really couldn't be bothered to actually take part in such a conspiracy.

  2. I am so sick of defending myself! I feel like I am constantly sticking up for our judicial system. You can't believe how many people have told me to my face that "Americans sue too much," and "c'est fou comme elles portent plainte!" To make myself feel better, I've told myself that they are all incedibly bitter that they have lost their only hope of ridding of Sarkozy.

  3. @Susan Yea, this story lost front page status rather quickly in the USA, especially after he was released on bail. The IMF isn't that important to Americans, and we don't care who he is...if he committed sexual assault, he needs to be tried in a court. The NYTimes had a series of interesting articles about how Americans and French perceive justice for their politicians.

    @Breanna Welcome to life in France, eh? It was worse to be an American when Bush was in office. Always got the "Why did you vote for him?" Ummm...I didn't ? There's a French woman who is considering pressing charges as well, so it isn't just us Americans.