The importance of paying attention.

The words “sex scandals” and “politics” are so closely linked to each other that they sometimes seem to be almost unavoidably so. But two recent high-profile instances make you wonder why anyone is amazed why that they happened, or should that be why they were allowed to happen at all?

The first case to hit the headlines was that of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn. He is accused of sexually assaulting a maid in the New York hotel suite he occupied. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, or DSK as he is often referred to, is no stranger to accusations that of sexual assault. A reporter for a French publication had stated that she had been assaulted by DSK. The incident occurred when she went to what she thought was to be an interview for a story. After the attack, the reporter refused to file formal charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who is well connected politically. Since he was arrested in this country, other women have begun to come forward to relate similar tales of their treatment at the hands of DSK.

The second case involves now-retired governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. In this case, there is no doubt what Schwarzenegger did, because he has admitted to fathering a child on a former housekeeper. It isn’t as though Schwarzenegger had never been accused of going beyond what might be thought of as the normal boundaries of how he interacted with women either. During his years as a Hollywood ‘star’, several of his female costars had spoken out about Schwarzenegger’s behavior towards them and the unwanted sexual advances they had received.

These men share few political similarities, Schwarzenegger being until now a darling of the Republican Party, and Strauss-Kahn being affiliated with the Socialist wing of French politics. What they do share, though, are characteristics that they demonstrated many times, characteristics that were more often than not ignored by those around them. Both men were willing to use positions of power to allow them to take advantage of women who they had power over. Both men had been accused of abusing their positions to take sexual advantage of women. Most importantly, both men were allowed to get away with their bad acts without facing any sanctions.

Not every accusation of sexual misconduct is true. But having said that, when a person in power faces accusations that they are using their power to take advantage of others, those accusations should be, must be, investigated fully and openly. Schwarzenegger, at least, seems to have taken care of the child that resulted from his infidelity. Whether the past accusations of possible misdeeds will now be re-investigated more thoroughly remains to be seen. In the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, a woman has had her life damaged, possibly destroyed, because no one would listen, or was willing to act, to stop a man who seems to have been slowly but surely spiraling out of control.

This IS unacceptable.

The police, the media, even ordinary people, MUST take seriously the need to keep this sort of thing from happening, and the only way to do that is to make sure when an accusation is made, it’s taken seriously. The innocent will be cleared if the accusation is false, and if it is not, someone will be stopped before they can do something to ruin another person’s life. No other course will work, no other way of dealing with this sort of situation will succeed.

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