I've been following the Dominique Strauss-Kahn story with a mixture of bemusement, horror, and frustration, and intrigued by every turn the story has taken so far. Last week, the New York Times reported, with more than a hint of glee, that the sexual assault case against the former head of the International Monetary Fund was "said to be near collapse." Why? Because the alleged victim may have "repeatedly lied," according to even prosecutors and senior law enforcement officials who also claimed that she may have lied on her asylum application and may have "possible links to people involved in criminal activities, including drug dealing and money laundering."
The article goes on, listing all her possible infractions and lies, but it never asks the real question: Why should any of this prove that there could have been no sexual assault? Apparently, if one follows this logic, liars and drug dealers are never raped. Subsequently, the New York Post claimed that the hotel maid was in fact a prostitute. The Post and five of its reporters are now being sued by the maid for defamation.
As someone who works and writes on immigration, I'm especially interested in the issue of the maid's asylum case, and I'll have more on that later. For now, I'm intrigued by the peculiar moral framework that's slowly emerging from this case, one that demands perfect victims and evil rapists, all the while preserving larger cultural fictions about the things we call sex and love.