The story of Dominique Strauss-Khan continues, first with his release earlier this week, and then a second accusation of rape. I’ve seen a number of blogs about the media interest in the credibility of the women involved, and in particular the unnamed maid.

There is a degree to which personal credibility and personal traits are important. If an individual is accused of stealing, then perhaps knowing whether they have a tendency to lie might be useful. So might knowing whether they tend to guard personal possessions jealously, or have a fluid understanding of property. But what bearing does their nationality, or their job, or any of their physical characteristics have on their case?

In the case of rape, it’s obviously more complex because you have two (or more) individuals and therefore two sets of personal credibility. And yet it’s almost always the women who have their credibility undermined. The fact that this woman is a maid and an immigrant should have no bearing on her credibility with regard to rape. So the well-educated Mr Strauss-Khan could probably beat her on Mastermind. That’s no reason to think that his (likely) superior intellect makes him a better or more moral person.

Similarly, her immigration status is irrelevant here. It’s an entirely separate issue, to be dealt with in a separate manner.  Trial by media serves no one except the media and damages both the case under discussion and the wider credibility of individuals involved in rape cases.


About feminismfortories

Moderate Tory, Liberal Feminist. Based in the UK.
This entry was posted in Banning things and sexism, Foolish comments, Media, society and state and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Credibility

  1. VSD says:

    The important credibility issues were

    (1) That she had previously lied about rape for personal gain, and was extremely convincing at it.
    (2) Key card data showed that her original statement to the police was false. She later changed her tale.
    (3) She was recorded talking to her boyfriend about how should could benefit from the case and telling him that she ‘knew what she was doing’.

  2. Thanks for you comment. Sometimes there are serious credibility issues around particular cases, as all cases are subtly different. The point I am making is that trial by media tends to seize on entirely unrelated issues, or on issues more sensibly attributed to distress, and to turn these into “credibility issues”.

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