Recently, at a restaurant I frequent, a sister in her 50s and a few others were discussing how low The New York Post has gone in its coverage of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn rape case. The sleaze-of-that-moment was an “EXCLUSIVE” report claiming that friends of the former IMF chief had tried to bribe his alleged victim’s relatives in Guinea.
“They already talked with her family,” an unidentified French businesswoman with Strauss-Khan ties was quoted as saying. “For sure, it’s going to end up on a quiet note. He’ll get out of it and will fly back to France. He won’t spend time in jail. The woman will get a lot of money.”
Everyone seemed to agree that the Post piece was the journalistic equivalent of “what had happened was,” and that insinuated that the alleged victim could be bought.
Then things fell apart.
“She should take the money, though,” said the sister in her 50s. “All she had to do was suck a little dick.”
I and a few others reminded her that rape of any kind is a big deal. “I know that. I’m a rape victim. I know what it’s like,” she replied. “But she’s not gonna get anything out of this. Her family’s poor; they’re living on $45 a day over there. She’s stupid not to take it. She should just take that money.”
Here’s what I wish I had pulled her aside and said:
“I’m sorry about what happened to you. I’m here if you need to discuss it. I’m also sorry about the Guinean mom of a teenage daughter who is stuck in protective custody because she was allegedly raped and beaten by the head of the IMF who could have been the next president of France. Her family’s intense poverty in Guinea–a former French colony–doesn’t negate what is happening to her in adopted home. Neither does an uncertain financial future. When it comes down to it, this her pain. Not yours, not mine, not anybody else’s. So don’t call her stupid.”
Instead, I left it at, “I don’t agree,” paid my check, and went home. Apparently, there are some conversations I’m not prepared to have.
What would you have done?