Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Will it make any difference?

The New York Times discusses whether the fall of Strauss-Kahn (or DSK) will make any difference to gender relationships in France. (Story covered on this blog here and here.) There is an odd question that arises in my mind. There is no doubt that the macho attitude is there and sexual misbehaviour (by which I do not mean affairs but actual attacks on women) are ignored or have been until now, as the forced resignation of George Tron demonstrates. Yet there seem to be more women on higher levels in politics in France than here. How is that to be explained? I would also be interested to know whether there have been any serious comparisons between the level at which there is a glass ceiling in business in France and in Britain.

Before anybody accuses me of something I am not guilty of, I must point out that I do know and have written about the truth of what women's lives are in certain other societies and in Islamic countries and communities. Nevertheless, not everything is perfect in the West either.


  1. Before we start bandying stereotypes around we should make sure we get the facts right. A quick look at the UN's rape statistics (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_statistics#UN_Statistics) reveals that France has a much lower rape rate (16.6 : 100,000) than the US (28.6 : 100,000) or the UK (24.1 : 100,000) despite the "Come with me to the Casbah" trope. The MSM have been very quick to presume that rape is more common in France, whereas that is simply not true.

  2. The point of those articles is that in France women are less likely to complain about rape because of prevailing attitudes. Do you think that might have anything to do with the lower statistics? Hmm?

  3. Of course, the difference between how many rapes are actually reported and how many actually take place must be taken into account. The most usual figure for actual rape per year in France is 75,000 (compared to the official number of about 10,000 http://www.inhesj.fr/fichiers/ondrp/bulletinmensuel/BM%20Mai%202011.pdf) which would indicate that only about 13% of all rapes are ever reported to the police. This figure is not all that different to the US figure, which according to D.G. Kilpatrick, "Rape in America: A Report to the Nation" is 16% of all rapes reported to the authorities. Even taking into account the smaller percentage of rapes which are actually reported to the authorities, the final figure is smaller.

    "Prevailing attitudes" is far too vague and subjective a term, especially when confronted with figures (furthermore, according my own subjective impression from the time I spent in France I would say that women are more liberated and empowered there than in most other countries I've lived in) and smacks of crass stereotyping.

    Of course, I'm glad that the DSK scandal is leading to many big-name rapists being denounced and caught out, as often these criminals try to silence their victims by using their clout, influence and power. Bringing these crimes to the attention of the general public can only have a positive effect, and if it leads to the conviction of more criminals, all the better.

    I still don't think, however, that the criminal tendencies of certain politicians can be extended to the entire nation.