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My life is incredibly busy…and incredibly boring as well. Don’t get me wrong: boring is good. I suppose that, when I say “boring”, I mean conventional. Again, “conventional” works for me. There is, however, something that bugs me since the DSK affair (see here).
My question is: when did it become acceptable for powerful men to be stupid?
There are numerous examples: look at DSK, a known womaniser now accused of assault against a maid in Manhattan. Even his (gorgeous and intelligent) wife seems to excuse his numerous indiscretions, as apparently “it is important for politicians to be able to seduce”. Give me a break.
To make matters worse, another French politician, George Tron, had to resign for alleged assaults towards two members of his staff. It was well known, in informed circles, that he was a foot fetishist (I didn’t even know such a thing existed. Ignorance is bliss).
It has been said that all of this is because French women have put up with such behaviours for so long without saying anything, and I have read lots of negative comments about how French feminism is weak and has, in fact, let this happen. Come on, sisters, that’s too easy an explanation.
Let’s have a look elsewhere: we have Arnie and his love child ( with the housekeeper- can you imagine what his wife must be going through? No wonder she said “hasta la vista baby” and, in my view, he deserves to be taken to the cleaners ). Then, John Edwards fathered a child out of wedlock while his (brilliant and beautiful) wife was sick with cancer and denied everything for a couple of years. The list is endless…
In short, I don’t believe that such attitudes have anything to do with nationalities. I think it has to do with power and the implied assumption that powerful people can get away with anything, it is somehow excused because of what they “give” to society. I will go even further: in some circles, debauchery is seen as “cool”. Reading the “Sunday Times” this morning proved it to me again: the philosopher Freddie Ayer has lots of extra-marital affairs and her stepdaughter Gully Wells describes the very special parties that went on in her youth. Personally, I believe her. This self-proclaimed intelligentsia believes that what society expects from them is “bourgeois” and that rules are made to be broken. Or they are above the law because they are after a greater good…Acting like petulant teenagers somehow flatters their oversized ego and seems to be part of the package deal.
Don’t get me wrong: I am not a paragon of virtue, and I am all about supporting our hard-earned freedom. We all make mistakes, and I have yet to meet someone perfect. I just believe that life is too short to hurt people with such twisted attitudes. Because, inevitably, people get hurt. And if people are hurt, isn’t it better to be honest?…
So why do we sometimes overlook what powerful men do? They obviously have a right to a private life. But is it right to accept that great economists, promising politicians or philosophers behave in appalling ways? Where do we draw the line? Well, for starters: no-one is above the law. And what happened to leading by exemplarity?

Muriel – A French Yummy Mummy In London
  • I am glad MuMu you never put your foot in it! Look what happened to Fergie after her toe job!

  • That was so spot on that nothing I say could add to it. Good post! And hear, hear!
    ~cath
    @jonesbabie on Twitter

  • Muriel, you totally rock! I think this is the best post you have ever written. WAY TO GO!! I’m in your corner.

  • I love the ‘petulant teenagers’ one,
    yes its so incisive, & DSK has given so much
    away by his stupidity and teenage ‘petulance’
    Great Read

  • I have to say I don’t even read those articles about all these philandering “powerful” men – it’s not worth my time. People who do not respect other people, other people’s marriages, etc. are not worth my time.

  • I so agree with the comment you make about behaving like petulant teenagers. Self centred and unable to comprehend the emotions of others they have failed to progress from that teenage state or maybe their success is due to this hard headed selfishness

  • I suppose we could all benefit from holding ourselves to higher standards. Leadership included.

  • Anonymous

    Hey, Muriel, I just tried to post a comment and stinky blogger won’t let me sign in and use my ID to comment.
    It’s Stacey from wearnailpolish. 🙂
    Have a good night.
    (just didn’t want anyone to confuse me with that mean anonymous I saw the other day. 🙂

  • Let’s face it – men can be pigs, but so can women. Men can be stupid, but so can women – e,g., Mme. DSK. We, however, may be more prone to it, but the double standards come in all sorts of varieties.

  • You’re spot on about ‘power’ being the variable in all this. I read recently that powerful women also have the same tendencies for ‘indiscretion’ and the studies show that it’s not gender but power that predisposes people to such behaviours. I guess powerful ppl just really think they can get away with it and sadly, also think they deserve it (the debauchery I mean). Sad but true. Although it doesn’t mean we should just accept it, as you had pointed out.

  • Anonymous

    Fantastic Post! I find it disheartening that as a people we would allow someones power and influence exclude them from behaving like a decent human being. Its gross! And darn I can’t post as me…this is Jennifer from Serendipity’s Library.

  • Spot on about it being about a sense of power or feelings of superiority rather than nationality.

    I too read that comment from DSK’s wife about the importance of politicians being able to seduce, in a French magazine on the TGV yesterday. I nearly choked on my croissant! The front page article, interestingly, was all about whether the French press had been complicit in protecting him from unpleasant exposure up to this point.

  • I was raised not to look up to celebrities in any arena — entertainment, politics, etc. So, I’m rarely surprised or disappointed by people in power, Muriel. I look at the behavior I respect and aspire to do the same or better. But, I’ll admit it would be nice to have the people who claim to be so moral walk the walk.

  • Criminal behavior (rape, child molestation, etc.) is one thing – and shouldn’t be tolerated by anyone.

    That said, I do not care or need to know the sordid details of any prominent figure’s sex life. It is not only the miscreant (male or female) who is hurting the innocent spouse or children, but the public which craves this titillation and the media that panders to it. Whatever became of discretion?

  • @ DC- you are right, I had forgotten about Fergie…maybe we should put her in touch with M. Tron…
    @Cath – thanks, and welcome…
    @Elizabeth – thanks!
    @Nisha – hi there! Glad you like my blog!
    @LJB – I couldn’t help it, I had to follow the DSK affair. I think I was in shock!

  • @ Nazima/WorkingLondonMummy – can’t you prescribe them something as a doctor? It would be nice, wouldn’t it?
    @ (Florida) girl – you are right. That said, I don’t understand how DSK was allowed to become a leader…
    @Stacey – silly, silly blogger!
    @ Thom – you are right. Women can be as bad. They are just less likely to be in a position of power…
    @ Joy – I hate to be judgemental but I can’t stand such behaviours. What’s wrong with me?

  • @Jennifer – sorry for blogger…what’s wrong with some people in places of power?
    @Deborah – be careful: soon your view of France will not be the same….
    @Kenya – it would be nice, wouldn’t it?
    @Holly – I normally don’t care about people’s private life. But I have to admit that the DSK affair shocked me…

  • Hear hear! If anything they should held to a higher standard since they are supposed to be leaders.

  • Hmm.. I don’t think powerful people commit stupidities/infidelity more often than unknowns. I think we just don’t hear about the unknowns when they do the nasty deeds.

    And having such indiscretions reported in the news more widely doesn’t imply society has come to accept them. It simply means the media have gotten more brazen since, perhaps, Watergate, about yanking people off pedestals.

    What do you think?