News sources have erupted across the world with the purportedly devastating revelation that Dominique Strauss-Kahn's alleged victim lied on her asylum application and thus, by implication, could have lied about the assault. Coupled with her potential connection to criminal activity, this detail has, as the headlines would have it, led to a sea-change in public perception of the case.
Never mind that other women have come forward and accused Strauss-Kahn of assaulting them: these "major holes in the maid's credibility" are enough to put the case in jeopardy.
Even when scenarios don't pit immigrant single-mothers against the world's most powerful men, rapists have an overwhelming tendency to get off free, while the victims are left with the pain of blunted justice to augment the pain of the assault itself. While bloggers, columnists, and commentators go wild with renewed commitment to conspiracy theory, I see this as just another installment in the age-old tradition of victim-blaming.
The maid has a spotty history, so she must be a liar.
Strauss-Kahn has a spotty history, but ladies and gentleman of the jury, that has no bearing on the case.
I read opinions that question why Strauss-Kahn appeared to act so calmly after the alleged assault, how he seemed surprised by his arrest . . . in short, how antithetical his behavior was to that of a guilty man.
Excuse me: could it be because guilty men are often of the opinion that they've done nothing wrong, that this is in fact a prime characteristic of the criminal? Could it be because he thought himself immune to repercussions, an attitude completely in line with past behavior? And if we want to play the game of logic where people's motives are concerned, why would the maid have fabricated an assault against Strauss-Kahn when she knew the deck was so heavily stacked against her?
Toying with motives is a slippery slope, but there's nothing ambiguous whatsoever about the reality of power, privilege, and sexual atrocity. While the conspiracy theorists see proof of their positions in the progression of events, I see yet another manifestation of innocence by force and the oppression of the powerless.
Has the maid lied in the past? Do her phone calls to an incarcerated man indicate that she herself is a criminal?
Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn.
Cross-posted on Companions of the Garden