Byline: by Stephen Glover
NOT long ago, someone told me an extraordinary story about Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the French head of the International Monetary Fund in New York, who has just been charged with the attempted rape of a chambermaid.
According to my informant, Mr Strauss-Kahn met a woman at the IMF. Within a very short time indeed they had repaired to Central Park in New York, where consensual sex between this hitherto unacquainted couple took place.
Naturally I was amazed that, if the story were true, a man in his position could have taken such a risk. When I mentioned it to a journalist friend who has worked in France for many years, he replied that Mr Strauss-Kahn was known as a man of wild sexual habits, though his exploits have not been written about in the French Press because of French privacy laws.
Obviously I have no idea whether or not Mr Strauss-Kahn is guilty of attempted rape. His defenders claim that this is not his style. But there is more than enough evidence for us to be able to say that his sexual exploits would have made the Roman emperor Nero blush.
In 2008, the married head of the IMF (he is on his third wife) was revealed to have had an affair with the Hungarian economist Piroska Nagy, who worked with him in the same organisation. He was cleared in an internal investigation of abuse of power, though required to apologise publicly for 'a serious error of judgment'.
According to a French journalist called Tristane Banon, Mr Strauss-Kahn tried to assault her in 2002. 'We ended up fighting on the floor. He was trying to undo my bra and I was kicking him.' Ms Banon, in the light of the new rape charge, is considering filing a complaint of sexual assault.
Last year a woman said to be one of his former aides released a book called The Secret Of The Presidential Contender (referring to Mr Strauss-Kahn's ambition to be President of France) in which she cited 'rumours of multiple extra-marital liaisons'. His biographer, Michel Taubman, says he has had innumerable sexual adventures, though doubts whether he has 'the profile of a rapist'.
If he is responsible for half the things said and written about him, he is certainly a very unusual kettle of fish. He appears to be suffering from a condition called satyriasis, defined in one medical dictionary as 'excessive, pathological or uncontrollable sexual desire in a man', and in another as 'the compulsive condition in a male of engaging in recurrent sexual intercourse with different sexual partners, promiscuously and without falling in love'.
Were Mr Strauss-Kahn a British or American prospective leader, his apparently gargantuan sexual appetites would have been publicised, and considered in the media. I may be wrong, but I think it unlikely that the British would want him as their Prime Minister, or the Americans as their President.
They do things differently in France. His sexual proclivities have barely been mentioned in the French Press. Their stringent privacy laws have precluded the kind of forensic examination to which he would have been subjected had he been a leading English or American politician.
The French political class -- or, more precisely, the male French political class -- accuse us of Anglo-Saxon sexual repression. They like to portray themselves as a nation of great lovers. Mr Strauss-Kahn, who is about as attractive as an overweight all-in wrestler, looks to me much less like a feline romantic seducer than a sexual predator.
And yet, until the day before yesterday, this man was on course to be the Socialist candidate, and probable victor, in next year's Presidential elections. As the mainstream French Press has not so far taken any interest in his sexual exploits, it is a reasonable assumption that they would not have been mentioned during the campaign -- had it not been for the rape charge.
French newspapers accept the existence of a kind of vacuum in which their politicians cannot merely conceal their sexual shenanigans by virtue of privacy laws but other sorts of misbehaviour. …