Twenty years after Monica Lewinksy was thrust into the spotlight for her affair with then-President Bill Clinton, the one-time White House intern says the #MeToo movement has changed the way she considers the nature of her relationship with the ex-commander-in-chief.
In a new essay for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky explains that as recently as four years ago, she remained steadfast in her conviction that the relationship was consensual—going so far as to write an earlier essay in Vanity Fair that said as much. She argued in that piece that the “abuse” came later, when she was “made a scapegoat in order to protect [Clinton’s] powerful position.”
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But the emergence of sexual misconduct allegations against the likes of Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement have given Lewinsky a “new lens” through which to view the events, leading her to question whether the relationship was consensual given the power dynamics at play.
I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop.)
Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern. I’m beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot. (Although power imbalances—and the ability to abuse them—do exist even when the sex has been consensual.)
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Ultimately, however, Lewinsky admits that the whole situation, which she regrets “every day,” is “very, very complicated” and her re-evaluation is not yet complete. Nevertheless, she expresses gratitude for the “heroines” of #MeToo and Time’s Up who have let her know that she is no longer alone.