- Danny Moloshok/Reuters
- Monica Lewinsky wrote in a new essay for Vanity Fair that the #MeToo movement has caused her to question whether her affair with former President Bill Clinton was consensual.
- “The idea of consent might well be rendered moot,” she wrote of her relationship with Clinton, which she called a “gross abuse of power.”
- Lewinsky credits the movement with helping her understand her own experience through a new lens and with the support of many other women.
Monica Lewinsky, whose name saturated the American media 20 years ago when her sexual relationship with former President Bill Clinton became public, wrote in a new essay for Vanity Fair, saying the #MeToo movement has made reconsider her affair with Clinton.
“I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent,” Lewinsky wrote. “Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege. (Full stop).”
Just four years ago, in another Vanity Fair essay, Lewinsky wrote that her affair with Clinton had been consensual. (“Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position,” she wrote then). But now, she says, the #MeToo movement has altered her perspective on her own situation.
She argued that because she was a 22-year-old White House intern and Clinton was one of the most powerful men in the world at the time, “the idea of consent might well be rendered moot.”
“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, calling the relationship “a gross abuse of power.” “I’m beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot.”
Lewinsky, who revealed her diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the ordeal, added that if the affair had happened today, because of the growing chorus of women who are speaking about their own experiences with abuse as part of the #MeToo movement, she would have felt less isolated than she did 20 years ago.
“By and large I had been alone. So. Very. Alone. Publicly Alone – abandoned most of all by the key figure in the crisis, who actually knew me well and intimately,” she wrote. “That I had made mistakes, on that we can all agree. But swimming in that sea of Aloneness was terrifying.”