The XX Factor

Why DSK’s Wife Stays     

Photo by JESSICA RINALDI/AFP/Getty Images

In this week’s New York Magazine, Vanessa Grigoriadis has a fascinating take on why Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s wife, the independently wealthy former TV personality Anne Sinclair, would stand by her husband after he was accused of rape by New York City hotel maid Nafissatou Diallo. For Sinclair, her support of her notoriously unfaithful, allegedly criminal spouse boils down to political ambition and Jewish identity. Her family money comes from art dealing, and during World War II, Sinclair’s forebears almost lost everything to the Nazis. They got their cache of incredibly valuable 19th and 20th century paintings back, ultimately, but the history left a mark on Sinclair, who was born in 1948:

According to friends, she always wanted to prove that, more than 75 years after Léon Blum became France’s first Jewish prime minister, the French would again be willing to elect a Jew. Such a thing was worth the sacrifice, because it would make for une formidable revanche sur l’histoire—a revenge on history.

Grigoriadis compares Sinclair to Hillary Clinton—another politically ambitious spouse who closed ranks around her husband after a divisive sex scandal. If the harsh judgment placed on Clinton and Elizabeth Edwards are any indication, as a culture, we don’t like hearing about women who stand by their husbands because of success or score-settling. It bursts the fantasy that marriage should only be about love—something so many people hold dear. No one ever knows what goes on behind the scenes in a marriage; for Sinclair, her dream of a Jewish head of France seems like as reasonable a justification as any to stay with something that is likely causing her a lot of pain.