Monica Lewinsky has recently published a tell-all essay in Vanity Fair, wherein she has reflected on being thrust into the spotlight during Bill Clinton’s presidency in 1998. She writes that, if it had all happened today in the #MeToo moment, she might not have felt so alone.
“Isolation is such a powerful tool to the subjugator,” Lewinsky wrote. “And yet, I don’t believe I would have felt so isolated had it all happened today. One of the most inspiring aspects of this newly energised movement is the sheer number of women who have spoken up in support of one another. And the volume in numbers has translated into volume of public voice. Historically, he who shapes the story (and it is so often a he) creates ‘the truth.’ But this collective rise in decibel level has provided a resonance for women’s narratives.”
Twenty years after the details of her private life were made public in the Starr report, Lewinsky is trying to find her place in the #MeToo movement, noting that some people don’t feel her experiences with Bill Clinton fit because it “was not sexual assault, although we now recognise that it constituted a gross abuse of power.” As the stories accumulate, the women’s experiences are more often heard and, more importantly, believed — something Lewinsky didn’t get to enjoy back then.
Lewinsky has apparently been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) triggered by “the ordeal of having been publicly outed and ostracised back then.” But she added that the #MeToo campaign has provided her a new lens through which to reevaluate her experience with Clinton and the trauma it caused her in her early 20s.
“Given my PTSD and my understanding of trauma, it’s very likely that my thinking would not necessarily be changing at this time, had it not been for the #MeToo movement — not only because of the new lens it has provided but also because of how it has offered new avenues toward the safety that comes from solidarity,” Lewinsky 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. I’m beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot.”
(The featured image at the top shows Monica Lewinsky at the time scandal involving US President Bill Clinton)