French feminist groups demonstrated yesterday against what they said is a "flood" of male chauvinist comments generated in France by the Dominique Strauss-Kahn (DSK) affair.
The pro-DSK comments which have infuriated women's groups have mostly been made by left-wing politicians and commentators who would normally position themselves as supporters of women's rights. Socialist former culture and education minister, Jack Lang, said that DSK should have been given immediate bail since "no one was dead".
The commentator and leftist-nationalist activist, Jean-François Kahn – a close friend of DSK – said the allegations amounted to no more than a "troussage de domestique" (literally, stripping or having casual, forced sex with a servant). Both men have since apologised for their remarks. Another friend of DSK, the Socialist Euro MP Gilles Savary, suggested that the ex-IMF chief might have been the victim of a "cultural" gulf between France and the US. Mr Strauss-Kahn, he said, was a "libertine" who enjoyed the "pleasures of the flesh" but this was not tolerated in a "puritan America, impregnated with rigorous Protestantism". Mr Savary has not yet apologised for calling an alleged attempted rape "pleasures of the flesh".
We are all chamber maids,' declared one of the banners unfurled in front of Paris' iconic Pompidou Centre gallery complex. 'No means no!' The feminists' anger was turned on male commentators in the media - one magazine editor dismissed the attack as 'touching up the help' - and on a wave of off-colour online jokes on social networking sites. More than 15,000 people have signed the feminists' petition, including several French politicians.
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