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Strauss-Kahn, Arnold stories not complex.

Byline: Dianne Williamson

COLUMN: DIANNE WILLIAMSON

If I were a big-shot French womanizer, I'd be grateful that I lived in a country where sexual indiscretions were an acceptable fact of life, sort of like public smoking in posh restaurants. C'est la vie!

But noooo. Apparently not content with a life of permissible debauchery, a naked Dominique Strauss-Kahn allegedly chased a hotel housekeeper around his luxurious Manhattan suite and sexually assaulted her.

Likewise, Arnold Schwarzenegger wasn't satisfied with his long and storied history of groping women's body parts. Instead, he impregnated the hired help right under poor Maria's patrician nose.

These days, powerful men are planting their evolutionary seed far and wide - in hookers, hired help, hotel housekeepers. And those are only the infidelities we know about.

Granted, the two cases du jour are completely different. The head of the International Monetary Fund is charged with a serious crime and is now incarcerated on Riker's Island. Arnold is still free to roam the planet and grope at will. It's no crime to be simply a cad, or countless men would be sharing a cell with Strauss-Kahn.

Still, both cases are linked by an entitlement mentality when it comes to powerful males and their sexual desires. For years, we've been shocked - positively shocked - to learn that otherwise upright men are entirely different animals under the sheets.

Should we be? Anthropologists and social scientists have long explained that men are genetically wired to unleash their seed willy-nilly, as though engaged in a lifelong game of paintball. Pow, pow, pow. It's for the good of the species, after all.

But whether it's good for marriage and women is quite another matter, of course, even though many wives stand by their men. Witness the spouse of Strauss-Kahn jetting to the states in an attempt to post bail for her hubby. Anne Sinclair, a wealthy and popular journalist who sacrificed her career for his, jumped to his defense immediately. (As did Maria in 2003, when Arnold was accused of groping at least 15 women).

"I do not believe for a single second the accusations leveled against my husband," Sinclair said on Sunday.

Neither do lots of other people. Here in the States, Ben Stein made the following absurd statement: "This is a case about the hatred of the have-nots for the haves, and that's what it's all about." Sorry, Ben, but rape is rape, whether the perp is rich or poor.

In France, where its sophisticated citizenry tends to prize privacy and frown on unsavory revelations, much hand wringing is under way because the garish American police took Strauss-Kahn on a perp walk, like he was some sort of, er, criminal. French journalist Isabelle Germain even warned against turning the accused assailant into a victim, writing that photographs of a "wealthy and powerful man slumped and unshaven in the dock have evoked pity and sympathy" in her country.

And conspiracy theories abound. Strauss-Kahn himself, sounding suspiciously like a guy staging a pre-emptive defense for a future rape, even discussed with a French newspaper last month the possibility of a woman falsely claiming he attacked her.

Lest that defense fails, his lawyers are likely prepared with a plethora of excuses. He wasn't there. He was, but the woman wanted it. As though it's the fantasy of every hardworking, 32-year-old housekeeper, to be sexually overpowered by a 62-year-old lech while she's trying to empty the trash.

The latest allegations come with a well-worn script of television talking heads and therapists explaining why powerful men cheat, as though it's some big mystery - narcissism, privilege, sexual addiction, the belief that rules don't apply to them, darker forces at play that require emergency intervention from Dr. Drew. I happen to believe that the explanation is simpler: opportunity. Powerful men cheat because they can.

Thankfully, though, times have changed for women. Twenty years ago, Maria Shriver would have followed a long line of Kennedy women and suffered her husband's indiscretions silently. More importantly in the not-so-distant past, a poor immigrant housekeeper may not have had the courage to report an assault at the hands of a powerful man. Even if she had, her alleged assailant wouldn't have been pulled from a plane and thrown in jail.

So the French can squawk all they want. Here in 2011 America, even alpha men are held accountable if their dog-like behavior crosses the line. Maria Shriver had choices; if the allegations against Strauss-Kahn are true, his victim had none. As for his right to privacy - hasta la vista, baby.

Contact Dianne Williamson via e-mail at dwilliamson@telegram.com
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:May 19, 2011
Words:763
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