#MeToo gives Lewin­sky fresh view of scan­dal

The Timaru Herald - - WORLD -

UNITED STATES: Monica Lewin­sky says the #MeToo move­ment has forced her to re­think whether she was able to con­sent to a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with Bill Clin­ton amid the power dy­nam­ics of a US pres­i­dent and a 20-some­thing in­tern.

In a Van­ity Fair ar­ti­cle, Lewin­sky said she was in awe of women who con­fronted pow­er­ful men but said she was still work­ing through the events that made her a house­hold name 20 years ago.

It had led her to re­alise that the path to the Clin­ton af­fair was ‘‘lit­tered with abuse of au­thor­ity’’, she added.

‘‘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,’’ she wrote.

‘‘I’m be­gin­ning to en­ter­tain the no­tion that in such a cir­cum­stance the idea of con­sent might well be ren­dered moot.’’

Lewin­sky’s af­fair with Clin­ton be­came pub­lic dur­ing the 1998 in­ves­ti­ga­tion led by in­de­pen­dent coun­sel Ken Starr. The story of their Oval Of­fice trysts and a blue dress made her fod­der for tabloids and the punch­line of many jokes. Clin­ton was im­peached for ly­ing un­der oath about their re­la­tion­ship but was ac­quit­ted by the Se­nate and avoided re­moval from of­fice.

For Lewin­sky, the re­sult was a life­time of run­ning from re­porters as her per­sonal life was re­vealed to the world. Her mother was forced to tes­tify against her be­fore a fed­eral grand jury, and she was di­ag­nosed with post-trau­matic stress dis­or­der.

In the ar­ti­cle, she de­scribed how she was re­con­sid­er­ing her past de­pic­tions of the af­fair, which she had al­ways in­sisted had been con­sen­sual.

‘‘I now see how prob­lem­atic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a ques­tion of con­sent,’’ she wrote. ‘‘In­stead, the road that led there was lit­tered with in­ap­pro­pri­ate abuse of au­thor­ity, sta­tion and priv­i­lege.’’

She at­trib­uted her new take to the wave of #MeToo protests and the ac­counts of nu­mer­ous women of the abuse they suf­fered at the hands of pow­er­ful men.

‘‘They are speak­ing vol­umes against the per­ni­cious con­spir­a­cies of si­lence that have long pro­tected pow­er­ful men when it comes to sex­ual as­sault, sex­ual ha­rass­ment, and abuse of power,’’ she wrote.

For a time, Lewin­sky used her celebrity sta­tus to pur­sue com­mer­cial op­por­tu­ni­ties – de­sign­ing hand­bags, and work­ing as a spokes­woman for a diet plan. But she left the pub­lic gaze to pur­sue a mas­ter’s de­gree in psy­chol­ogy be­fore re­turn­ing to the pub­lic eye in 2014, to speak out against cy­ber­bul­ly­ing.

Since then, the worlds of Amer­i­can pol­i­tics, en­ter­tain­ment and me­dia have been rocked by a cat­a­logue of sex­ual ha­rass­ment and abuse al­le­ga­tions, which be­gan when sto­ries emerged about Hol­ly­wood pro­ducer Har­vey We­in­stein.

Lewin­sky said she hoped the new ac­tivism and a re­shap­ing of pub­lic life meant per­pe­tra­tors would no longer be able to use iso­la­tion as a weapon against women.

She said she had suf­fered years of on­line abuse, but was en­cour­aged that women could now find a place among sup­port­ers and sym­pa­this­ers on so­cial me­dia.

– Tele­graph Group

Monica Lewin­sky

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