Still, the accusations, which have landed the suave Strauss-Kahn in a cell in New York's notorious Rikers Island, his million-dollar bail offer denied, have hit a raw nerve here. There is an uneasy sense that France has been exposed, and that the French tradition of complicity in the sexual secrets of the rich, famous, and powerful has been laid out for all to see.
As such, there seems to be some soul-searching going on. Did the pervasive culture here, which regards philandering as merely part of a long French tradition, allow a dangerous blind eye to be turned to rumors of Strauss-Kahn’s previously predatory behavior toward women? That's what some French editorials are asking, as women come out of the woodwork with unappealing tales about the prominent politician. His behavior, ventured the newspaper Le Figaro, would probably have spelled the end of a career in many another country.
Typically, philandering or even sexual aggressiveness is rarely raised in the press. In a country where the affairs of the powerful are treated with a shrug, or even a nod of approval, it is all simply a tale of titillating tattle, amounting, politically, to nothing.
“Almost all French male politicians are compulsive womanizers,” wrote Christophe Dubois and Christophe Deloire in their 2006 book on the personal lives of leading politicians, "Sexus Politicus." “Far from being a flaw, to cast yourself in the role of seducer is without doubt an important quality in our political life.”