DSK’s wife: ‘No different from a woman who wears the burqa’
Publishing the first interview with Anne Sinclair since the arrest of her husband in May, French magazine Elle has sparked outcry among some French women, who describe her as both a “victim” and an “accomplice” for standing by her shamed partner.
When Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in May for allegedly trying to rape a hotel chamber maid, Sinclair said nothing. Later that month, when the young French writer Tristane Banon accused Strauss-Kahn of sexually assaulting her nine years previously, Sinclair’s lips remained sealed. It was Sinclair’s money – six million dollars of it – that bailed Strauss-Kahn out of the notorious Rikers Island prison. And when he was finally discharged in August, it was Sinclair who greeted him outside the courthouse with a wide grin.
For her husband, Anne Sinclair is an exemplary wife.
But for many French women, she is a dangerous example.
Her interview with Elle (which is rumoured to have taken place with the wife of a close friend of Strauss-Kahn), has left readers fuming.
“How can you credit such an undignified woman,” reads one of many angry comments posted below the article, published on Wednesday. “She has never shown the slightest bit of compassion for any of her husband’s victims.”
Another went further, denouncing Sinclair as an “accomplice” to her husband’s alleged crimes (the sexual assault charges against Strauss-Kahn were dropped due to a lack of evidence; the prosecutor instead described the incident as “a horrid sexual encounter”). “Sinclair has acknowledged what her husband has done to other women. By doing so, she is, in a way, endorsing his actions. How can she do so when he is implicating the lives of others? Does ruining people’s lives not bother her?” An even harsher response followed: “She is neither victim nor saint – she is part of a monstrous couple.”
Sinclair denied giving her husband “unconditional support” in the interview. “I am a free woman,” she declared. But her readers again disagreed. “What’s different between the way Sinclair thinks and the way a woman wearing the burqa thinks?” asked one. “From one perspective you’re ‘free’, from another, you’re under submission.” Others complained that Sinclair and Strauss-Kahn gave France a bad name. “What a terrible example if somebody who turns a blind eye to prostitution had become our first lady.”
‘An unhealthy relationship’
Aside from the tirade of angry comments, Sinclair’s interview also provoked a fair amount of sympathy and even declarations of admiration. “She doesn’t look like a free woman to me,” one comment read. “I wish her courage in standing by with a man who has such an unhealthy relationship with women.”
The divide over Sinclair is impressive. While her critics might be the more vocal of the two sides, it is reported that her supporters are more numerous. According to a September poll carried out by Elle and Ifop, some 54% of French women approve of Sinclair supporting her husband, even though only 17% of them think she believes him innocent.