Monica Lewinsky says there was an 'inappropriate abuse of authority' in her relationship with Bill Clinton
Monica Lewinsky is re-evaluating her relationship with former President Bill Clinton in the wake of the #MeToo movement, acknowledging in a Vanity Fair essay that her new understanding of power dynamics is making her question what she once believed was consent. "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 writes.
Lewinsky believed as recently as 2014: "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." Lewinsky explains now that in the wake of stories about Harvey Weinstein and other men abusing their positions of power over women: "I'm beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot."
She goes on:
But it's also complicated. Very, very complicated. The dictionary definition of "consent"? "To give permission for something to happen." And yet what did the "something" mean in this instance, given the power dynamics, his position, and my age? Was the "something" just about crossing a line of sexual (and later emotional) intimacy? (An intimacy I wanted — with a 22-year-old's limited understanding of the consequences.) He was my boss. He was the most powerful man on the planet. He was 27 years my senior, with enough life experience to know better. He was, at the time, at the pinnacle of his career, while I was in my first job out of college. [Vanity Fair]
Lewinsky adds that her re-evaluation is ongoing, but "I know one thing for certain," she said: "Part of what has allowed me to shift is knowing I'm not alone anymore." Read her entire essay at Vanity Fair.