Famous journalist, TV personality, and author Anne Sinclair officially started her new job today as editorial director of the French version of the Huffington Post. Sinclair, of course, also happens to be married to Dominique Strauss-Kahn, who was the world’s most well-known rape defendant until the charges against him were dismissed and continues to be a major news story as he faces additional scandals. At a press conference today, Sinclair said that her site will not have any particular political viewpoint but will “give people space to talk.” The site’s founder, Arianna Huffington, said that Sinclair’s triumph over adversity “gives hope and courage to every other woman,” and that DSK might even become a guest blogger.
Sinclair has faced criticism from people who doubt her ability to be neutral and wonder how her site would cover news about her husband. One even said that Sinclair “is no longer a journalist. Ever since she compared the DSK affair to the Dreyfus affair, she is an interested party.” This is an interesting question, but ultimately I don’t think that Sinclair’s support of Strauss-Kahn should disqualify her from a job in journalism. First of all, do her critics think that if she threw her husband under the bus, that would make her neutral about his case? That wouldn’t make sense; no matter how she chose to react to her husband’s scandals, the fact that she is his wife means that she is affected by his legal struggles to some extent. If Sinclair’s critics take their reasoning to its logical end, the only conclusion they could come to is that anyone who has any relationship with a person in the news, or has expressed an opinion about any event in the news, is disqualified from being a journalist. That would disqualify almost everyone in the world. It’s perfectly reasonable for someone who is partial about a particular subject in the news to have a career in journalism but simply avoid covering that particular subject. This is what, for example, WCBV TV reporter Gail Huff does with respect to her husband, Senator Scott Brown, and what Sinclair says she will do with her husband: “It goes without saying that we will cover all news topics that come up whatever they might be. I’m not saying I would write the article but it will be covered and in the most professional manner possible.”
Additionally, as she has since she decided to stick with DSK, Sinclair faces criticism from so-called feminists who are in reality not feminists at all. People have referred to her as “undignified,” “shockingly weak,” “very very sad,” a “doormat,” a “terrible role model,” “an embarrassment,” and a “depressed woman with no respect for herself” who is “under submission.” They speak constantly of DSK’s “victims,” and what he “has done to other women.” They describe the prostitutes that DSK allegedly slept with as “vulnerable young women run controlled [sic] by pimps.” Most offensively, some even write that Sinclair “needs an appointment with a psychiatrist.”
In addition to the fact that it is wrong to disrespect the presumption of innocence, hideously offensive to claim that someone is mentally ill for making different choices than you, and bizarre to call someone weak and cowardly for defending an unpopular individual against an attacking mob, these comments are simply anti-feminist. It is anti-feminist, for example, to demand that all woman have the same standards and value the same things in a husband. It is anti-feminist to assume that in rape cases, women always tell the truth and men always lie. It is anti-feminist to treat sex, unless proven to be non-consensual, as something that men “do to” women. It is anti-feminist to treat women as inherently vulnerable and in need of protection, to assume that prostitutes are controlled by pimps, and to assume that Sinclair is weak, submissive, and controlled by DSK instead of being an autonomous and independent person.
In actuality, Sinclair and DSK are a couple that feminists should approve of. Instead of her staying home and being financially dependent on him, she is the wealthier one, and both are intellectual equals who have their own identities, their own lives, and (until DSK’s was unjustly destroyed) their own highly successful careers. Anne Sinclair is brave, independent, strong, intelligent, and feminist. People who make comments like the ones above are sad, undignified, and weak.
Because of her courage and her very impressive resume, Sinclair more than deserves this job. Congratulations, Anne, and the best of luck in your new endeavor.
To mark her comeback, Sinclair gave an interview to the French version of Elle magazine, in which she explained a little bit more about her ordeal, her idea of feminism, and why she supports her husband. Some of the best quotes:
- “To be an object of speculation, of permanent harassment to know what is happening in my home, has something about it that is Orwellian, totalitarian.”
- “There are trashy newspapers in the U.S., like everywhere, and violations of privacy. But, in regard to the big media, the press is demanding, precise, and hardworking.”
- On her presidential ambitions, or lack thereof, for DSK: “I wasn’t keen on the idea of candidacy. Power? I’ve seen it too close up to find it fascinating. As for the role of First Lady, it doesn’t exist in France. All that leaves me totally cold.”
- On her new job: “It brings me great pleasure to resume my career, in the euphoria of participating in something new! … I think that I can still bring something to this field. What makes me nervous is the launch of a journal, that it wouldn’t be ready in time, the stress, all that. But my return to the spotlight, as you say, it already happened, no? … But it’s true that the professional spotlight is always more pleasant.”
- On people who say that she should leave DSK: “Well then, leave your husband if you want to want to leave him. That’s your problem.”
- On accusations that she is condoning violence against women: “It’s unacceptable because there was no violence. If there had been, the prosecutors would have pressed charges. They didn’t. Violence horrifies me – verbal violence too.”
- “I, too, felt a great violence when certain self-proclaimed feminists unleashed themselves on me. I am a feminist, I always have been; I always will be. I have been part of all of the battles, on abortion, on equality at work, on the dignity of women here and elsewhere, on the role of women in public life. I think I have done at least as much as packs of ‘feminists’ for the advancement of women in men’s fields.”
- “Unconditional support does not exist. One supports if one has decided to support. Nobody knows what happens in the intimacy of couples, and I deny anyone the right to judge mine. I feel free in my judgments, my actions, I decide about my life in all independence. I am neither a saint nor a victim; I am a free woman.”