Monica Lewinsky wonders if her story belongs within or adjacent to #MeToo

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I had to sit with this Monica Lewinsky essay for a while to really figure out how I felt about it. Monica Lewinsky wrote an essay for Vanity Fair called “Emerging from ‘the House of Gaslight’ in the Age of #MeTo.” I’ll admit that I sort of rolled my eyes at the idea that Lewinsky would equate or compare her own story to a #MeToo story – she has said repeatedly that her sexual relationship with Bill Clinton was consensual, and that the traumatic experiences she faced came afterwards, with Ken Starr’s investigation. She says as much in the essay, but she also creates an argument about how her traumatic experiences post-affair could be and possibly should be included in the larger #MeToo narratives now, 20 years later (we’re actually coming up on the 20-year anniversary). You can read the full piece here. Some highlights:

The national trauma: …As I find myself reflecting on what happened, I’ve also come to understand how my trauma has been, in a way, a microcosm of a larger, national one. Both clinically and observationally, something fundamental changed in our society in 1998, and it is changing again as we enter the second year of the Trump presidency in a post-Cosby-Ailes-O’Reilly-Weinstein-Spacey-Whoever-Is-Next world. The Starr investigation and the subsequent impeachment trial of Bill Clinton amounted to a crisis that Americans arguably endured collectively—some of us, obviously, more than others. It was a shambolic morass of a scandal that dragged on for 13 months, and many politicians and citizens became collateral damage—along with the nation’s capacity for mercy, measure, and perspective.

Trauma in isolation. Isolation is such a powerful tool to the subjugator. 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 energized 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.

The abuse of power: There are many more women and men whose voices and stories need to be heard before mine. (There are even some people who feel my White House experiences don’t have a place in this movement, as what transpired between Bill Clinton and myself was not sexual assault, although we now recognize that it constituted a gross abuse of power.) And yet, everywhere I have gone for the past few months, I’ve been asked about it. My response has been the same: I am in awe of the sheer courage of the women who have stood up and begun to confront entrenched beliefs and institutions. But as for me, my history, and how I fit in personally? I’m sorry to say I don’t have a definitive answer yet on the meaning of all of the events that led to the 1998 investigation; I am unpacking and reprocessing what happened to me. Over and over and over again.

The House of Gaslight. The reason this is difficult is that I’ve lived for such a long time in the House of Gaslight, clinging to my experiences as they unfolded in my 20s and railing against the untruths that painted me as an unstable stalker and Servicer in Chief. An inability to deviate from the internal script of what I actually experienced left little room for re-evaluation; I cleaved to what I “knew.” So often have I struggled with my own sense of agency versus victimhood. (In 1998, we were living in times in which women’s sexuality was a marker of their agency—“owning desire.” And yet, I felt that if I saw myself as in any way a victim, it would open the door to choruses of: “See, you did merely service him.”)

Defining consent. 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. (Note to the trolls, both Democratic and Republican: none of the above excuses me for my responsibility for what happened. I meet Regret every day.)

[From Vanity Fair]

At no point does she equate what happened to her with the actual #MeToo stories of abuse and worse. And she’s not wrong – it was an abuse of power on Clinton’s part, and Monica was treated poorly by nearly everyone involved. But I still feel… edgy, or uncomfortable with this idea that Monica’s story belongs within or adjacent to the #MeToo Movement. She consented. She thought she was in a relationship with the president. From what I remember, she even pursued him in their first encounters. Does any of that belong within or side-by-side with #MeToo? I really don’t know.

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166 Responses to “Monica Lewinsky wonders if her story belongs within or adjacent to #MeToo”

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  1. Megan says:

    She bragged she was going to DC to “earn her presidential knee pads.” Yes, she was young and naive, and, yes, Clinton absolutely should have kept his trousers hitched, but she doesn’t engender a ton of sympathy from me.

    • a reader says:

      Enough with the slut shaming. Seriously.

      • Betsy says:

        Is it shaming if she herself said it?

      • Lightpurple says:

        You do realize that was a direct quote from Monica Lewinsky, right? And that she said it BEFORE she moved to Washington, right?

      • Jaded says:

        She is not being slut-shamed. She first made a beeline for George Stephanouplos who complained about her inappropriate and flirtatious behaviour so she was transferred to a job as an assistant to Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon. She then set her sights on Clinton, went after him like a heat-seeking missile and let him know in no uncertain terms that she was available. During the course of their affair, Clinton was also having an affair with E! Network host Eleanor Mondale and Monica was furious. I have absolutely no sympathy for her, she had a murky past with men and had a five-year relationship with her married former high school teacher. This is a woman who knew exactly what she was getting into and, yes she did make the comment about “earning her presidential kneepads”.

      • paranormalgirl says:

        It’s not slut shaming if they were her words.

      • Cranberry says:

        I think the one that needs to get serious is you @reader.

    • HH says:

      I think there is room for nuance here between “abuse of power” and that “someone should have known better.” Bill Clinton absolutely should have known better than to get in an affair with an intern (or any affair period). However, there’s no indication that Monica Lewinsky ever wanted to say “no.” Abuse of power means that the lesser party (sorry for that term), has to entertain the consequences of saying “no” and what that means for them. Consensual to me in this case not only means the individual sexual encounters were consensual, but all of the feelings surrounding them were. There’s no indication that Monica did not enjoy the affair. She was young and naive for sure. However, I didn’t get any sense of coercion from what she’s said in the past.

      • lucy2 says:

        I think this is a good way to look at it, regarding the idea of consequences – both good and bad. A career can be put at risk…or promised more. As soon as you get into either of those dynamics, then I definitely think it’s an abuse of power, but otherwise not so much.

      • tracking says:

        Yes, I agree. She was a grown woman, not a child, and exposed her thong to the POTUS as an invitation. She seemed positively delighted with the affair and did not seem to care one way or the other about career advancement at the time, her beef is with the way the press treated her in the aftermath of the affair being made public. The sexism of the press coverage? Yes, there she has a definite point. And do I judge him for getting sexually involved with a much younger woman, and an intern? Yes. But inserting this into #Metoo? Nope.

    • noway says:

      Her type of stories are my one issue with the #metoo movement. Yes it was an abuse of power and Pres. Clinton was wrong. If it happened today Clinton would most likely be thrown out of office unless he pulled a Trump, which honestly Bill Clinton could do and better than Trump so the story would have most likely ended the same way, at least for now.

      However, don’t some women have some responsibility in this. Monica Lewinsky in her testimony and her taped conversations to Linda Tripp went all Sharon Stone on President Clinton, before he ever had any personal relationship with her. She heavily pursued him with brazen nudity and all. Read it sometime if you haven’t. She admitted this. I don’t think I’m slut shaming, because I think she has the right to sexually pursue anyone, perhaps it’s inappropriate on all levels, but still. That’s not the problem, but just because you sexually pursued a superior and they said yes is it still sexual harassment because they hold some power over you. Logically no, but I’m not sure all these stories are unfolding that way.

      • Cranberry says:

        I agree with @HH above. The affair with Lewinsky was not an abuse of power by Pres. Clinton.

        She was very willing, and she even pursued him. It was inappropriate and unprofessional, but not abuse.

    • c8c8c8c8 says:

      Monica already had a history of sleeping with married men by the time she got to Clinton. Yes, she had low self esteem and most certainly relationship issues with her father. But she consented to being a mistress, even if it was coming from a bad place.

      I feel bad for her being a dysfunctional 20-something and for how she was treated by the press. But at the end of the day, what did she think was going to happen? She was absolutely old enough to know how incredibly risky it was to be pursuing Clinton. He didn’t abuse his power with her. He barely had to do anything, considering she was the one who initiated the flirting!!!

      I absolutely believe Monica has had to deal with sexual harassment and abuse before and most certainly after the affair, but by her own account Clinton didn’t do anything she didn’t consent to or encourage.

      • perplexed says:

        “But at the end of the day, what did she think was going to happen? ”

        I think she should have foreseen that his family would be ticked off with her. But I’m not sure if anyone could have foreseen she’d be dragged off to court to testify about the affair. Previous presidents had had affairs, and the press covered up for them. Even if those affairs had been exposed decades later, people usually shrugged. This is the one instance where an affair with a president led to some kind of media explosion. It’s usually at the candidate stage where the media comes after you. After the win, the press tries to cover for you. Maybe with Clinton the same might have happened if not for Ken Starr’s dogged insistence everyone go after him.

  2. Clare says:

    Hmm, I have not read her essay in its entirety so pardon me if I am missing something – but I don’t feel her experience belongs within the #MeToo Why? Because as Kaiser has said, she has repeatedly expressed her consent – of course discussion of whether consent is even possible n that type of power dynamic is needed and valid, but I feel equating two-sided affairs (even those which feature an abuse of power) to the very powerful #MeToo stories that women have shared creates a false equivalence.

    Lewinsky has every right to question, reassess and discuss her experience, but I cant help but feel she has beaten this horse for 20 years and at this point it is politically loaded noose around the neck of any movement it is attached to. And yes, I accept that that assessment is quite unfair to her.

    • Marlene says:

      “…I cant help but feel she has beaten this horse for 20 years…”

      Her first Vanity Fair essay was in in May 2014. She was out of the spotlight for a full decade.

  3. Yellowrocket says:

    I don’t think Monica belongs with the #me too movement exactly but at the same time I feel kind of icky even passing judgement on another woman’s feelings about whether or not she can join in ya know?

    But she was most definitely very badly treated by the media and society at large and slut shamed on an unparalleled level. I listened to her Ted talk and really enjoyed it, it’s worth a listen.

    • Tessy says:

      Thank you for bringing up her Ted Talk. Every one who thinks they need to pass judgment on her should watch it first.

      I have no problem with her experience being part of the movement. Yes she admits that it was consensual, but he was the one who was boss and in the position of power. She’s the one who paid the biggest price and pretty much lost her entire youth through humiliation and bullying.

      • noway says:

        I’ve seen her Ted Talk and I admire her take on bullying. The media and the social mob treated her awful, and President Clinton wasn’t very nice either, but he kind of treated her like most cheating spouses cheat their mistress. Just it was all so public. However, read her own testimony about the affair. She was the active instigator of the affair. Aren’t we belittling her choices by saying you can’t be a sexually aggressive woman and pursue a superior, married or not, because he holds the power. Cause that is what you are doing if you just say he has the power so it is harassment. I’m not sure that’s a place we should cross as I think we lose more than we gain. I do think Lewinsky’s story about living through the crazy Scarlet Letter shaming that still goes on today with all the metoo victims is very appropriate.

  4. Milla says:

    Abuse of power is part of metoo. So i understand her, but i also see how we are still not close to talking about that cos we have too many cases where abuse is clear as a day.

    I always felt sorry for her. He did use her as a sex toy.

    • booRadley says:

      my thoughts exactly. The power dynamic was huge, she was young, influenced by a respected powerful man, she may have convinced herself it was consensual, and has had to discuss it so many times, she probably believes it. But part of the #metoo is that that kind of power imbalance is never consensual, no matter how long it goes on for. And I’ve never really understood why everyone chooses to see her outside of this movement, she is very much inside, and if this had happened today, instead of 20 years ago, we’d all be jumping to her defense without hesitation. and yet she sits outside, because her abuse happened at a time where she was as much to blame as him. Today that wouldn’t happen at all, and that’s a shame.

      • Una says:

        “she may have convinced herself it was consensual, and has had to discuss it so many times, she probably believes it. ”

        No no no no! So not here for further infantilization of women. She consented. She repeatedly said she did. You cannot disregard her statement so it fits in the movement.

      • Leo says:

        “But part of the #metoo is that that kind of power imbalance is never consensual, no matter how long it goes on for.”

        So basically no woman can ever be in a relationship with a man who’s more powerful, richer, more educated than her? Who determines the extent of the power imbalance and how much of it is too much?

      • Jayna says:

        @Una, thank you. I agree.

      • magnoliarose says:

        @Una
        I am tired of infantilizing women too. She was not a child. She was a woman. Talk about her in those terms and how she sees herself. Some pretty young women use that power to get close to powerful or wealthy men or for a quid pro quo relationship. I have seen it, and I have heard the plotting so the woman could get a big contract or a career bump.
        This does not adequately address the power imbalance, but that does not automatically include it in metoo. Did he make her so she could keep her job? Did he bully her or threaten her? No, according to her. It was consensual.
        I think Monica’s situation is another conversation.

      • The dormouse says:

        Yes her experience is on the ‘bad sex spectrum’ and should be included in the discussion of the complicating factors which impact consent and agency. The spectrum includes the Aziz Ansari incident where was no affirmative consent.

        Lewinsky, on the other hand, sought the encounter but grew up in a culture which continually hammers home the lie that making yourself a sex object is a path to being powerful and valued.

      • Lightpurple says:

        Monica Lewinsky plotted to have an affair with Bill Clinton BEFORE she took the job. That was her goal. She admitted that. Yes, there was a huge power imbalance and he should have stayed the Hell away but no, this does NOT put her #MeToo. From the point of a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit, Monica would have absolutely no case. However, in some jurisdictions, her co-workers could if they could show Monica earned an unfair advantage over them.

      • Enough Already says:

        Una
        Thank youuu. Absolving Lewinsky of responsibility is insulting to true victims and sends the message that women absolutely have no agency, that we are only ever affected by men and can not claim an ounce of autonomy.

      • Una says:

        @ Everyone There is an aspect of Lewinsky’s story that CAN be argued to be adjacent to #metoo and it is her treatment by the media and public at large. Even feminist personalities went all in to slut shame and destroy her life.
        @Enough Already I agree with you on self autonomy. Third wave feminism’s treatment of female autonomy and will sometimes aligns a bit too much with patriarchal ideas. It bugs me so much.

      • aenflex says:

        She wanted him. She made it clear. He wanted her. He made it clear. It was a consensual affair. Nothing more.

        If she was treated poorly afterward, it’s probably because she knew he was married and still carried on. He’s just as culpable as her. They both deserve the shame they encountered.

        Not a metoo story.

      • Jaded says:

        See my comment above – Monica Lewinsky had to be transferred to another position in the WH due to her excessive and inappropriate flirting with George Stephanopoulos. It was the 2nd position that put her into closer contact with Clinton, delivering his mail, etc., and she made it blatantly evident that she was available. She even pitched a jealous fit when she found out he was seeing E!Online host Eleanor Mondale. Yes, she was treated poorly afterwards but you reap what you sew.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        I agree with Una. An imbalance of power between two adults doesn’t automatically make sex between them rape or even coercion. You have to look at whether or not the person with the power used or threatened to use that power against the other person if things didn’t go their way. The part of Monica’s story that’s #MeToo adjacent is the way she was treated after the affair.

      • Izzy says:

        Thank you @Una. There was definitely an imbalance of power, and one of the most objectionable things was the way she was used by the president and then thrown to the wolves by the him and everyone else.

        But she absolutely sought out an affair, and was attracted to power. I vividly recall George Stephanopoulos making a stop at my college campus on his book tour after the scandal, and when he was asked about Monica and the affair, he said that while she was treated very unfairly, she was very attracted to power and had actually sought him out before setting her sights on the president.

        It doesn’t excuse any of what happened to her, and President Clinton absolutely knew better. She knew what she was doing too. However, she has paid a very heavy price for two decades; my cousin is a friend of hers, and she can’t get a job anywhere, despite having a very good education and being, by all accounts, quite intelligent. She certainly doesn’t date, because men don’t want to date someone with that notoriety attached. She’s very isolated, and it sounds terribly lonely. That’s a big price to pay for what she did.

      • Darla says:

        Izzy, ugh. Yeah, she paid too high of a price for what she did. It’s really awful.

      • Aurelia says:

        I’m with you magnoliarose, I have worked with a suprisingly HIGH number of women who were totally out about persuing relationships with men at your company who could benefit them. Sad but true. They wanted the shortcut to success. No, they are not of the #metoo movement.

      • magnoliarose says:

        @Aurelia
        I was surprised too because it goes against everything I believe. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t tempted a few times but the moment passed quickly. What I did experience was creepy attention and forced to be kinder to men I didn’t like and use flirtation as a weapon.
        But I knew women who didn’t think it was a problem. It was consensual, and they got huge rewards for it.
        There is a lot to discuss when it comes to that dynamic in our society.

        @Una
        I don’t ascribe to victimization feminism or feminists behaving as patriarchs and feeding into it with competitive feminism. 3rd wave has issues. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Darla says:

      Eleanor Mondale was Walter Mondale’s daughter, and quite beautiful. More age appropriate for Bill too. I don’t believe it was ever confirmed they had an affair, Eleanor knew how to keep her business locked down. But yes, I do remember Monica at least believed they were. Sadly, she died young of brain cancer I believe. Oh well.

  5. Enough Already says:

    Bye Felicia. Pursuing a sexual relationship with a married man isn’t a state of victimhood. That’s like trying to claim insurance money if I burn down my own home. Lewinsky should be ashamed of herself.

    • Zeddy says:

      Yup. Also very infantilizing. She has stated repeatedly that she knew what she was doing. I believe she regrets it, but I don’t believe she can claim this movement.

  6. Annabel says:

    I think a quick way to undermine and discredit #MeToo is to start equating the actions of consenting adults with abuse.

    • magnoliarose says:

      Exactly. That is a whole other subject that can be discussed but not in this context.

    • ElleC says:

      You’ve hit it right on the head. Being publicly shamed for consensual sex =/= sexual assault. Absolutely she’s a victim of misogyny, but so are women who suffer from other forms of gender discrimination in the workplace/society (sexist dress codes, making less for the same work, insurers covering Viagra but not birth control, getting fired during mat leave). It wouldn’t be right for them to claim #MeToo, either.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      “….a quick way to undermine and discredit #MeToo is to start equating the actions of consenting adults with abuse.”

      A-freaking-men, in more ways than one. Seriously. Unfortunately, I think gentle reminders of this are going to have to be a part of this discussion- from this to the “In light of #Metoo, Let’s rethink hook-up culture because women have been out of line since the 60′s” crowd on the right.

  7. Jayna says:

    Ugh.

    I’m only down for half. She didn’t deserve to be used as a political pawn to take down the POTUS and then spit out and a scarlet letter put on her back for far too many years because of the huge political stage with the Republicans trying to impeach Clinton, an affair with,a sitting president, and the seedy elements to the affair. She was sold out by Linda Tripp and used and intimidated by both sides. I feel for her. I really do. Thankfully, she comes from a wealthy family that she could lean on.

    But as to the second part, nah. She was no innocent baby. She wanted to fvck Bill Clinton. Own it and accept his marriage didn’t mean anything to you. He didn’t groom you and then seduce you. He didn’t use his power to intimidate you for sex. You went after it, made yourself noticeable to him, hoping he would respond, knowing his womanizing past made it likely.

    • Kitten says:

      ITA with you and most of the comments on this thread. Despite a past fraught with morally questionable behavior, I do find current Monica Lewinsky to be quite thoughtful and introspective. She’s a decent writer, too–a little bit wordy at times–but not bad at all.
      Ultimately, I didn’t really have a problem with what she said–she didn’t claim the #Metoo movement but hinted at the power disparity issue, which I think is fair. I could be missing something but I didn’t get the impression that she was presenting herself as a victim of Clinton, more the victim of a blood-thirsty public and media.

  8. bonobochick says:

    Her again. *sigh* I don’t see her as a victim overall. Yes, she was brutalize by the press but in her actual situation, she consented and as mentioned, bragged about it. Different scenario from the women and men strong-armed into sexual situations or were raped/sexually assaulted.

    • Megan says:

      Whoever was advising her when the scandal broke had no idea what they were doing. In the midst of an ugly scandal, she was photographed sipping cosmopolitans at DC’s toniest restaurants on a daily basis. She didn’t look like an innocent victim who was taken advantage of by a powerful man, she looked like the cat who ate the canary.

  9. Mumbles says:

    I read the piece once quickly, and will read it a little more closely in a bit. But yes, she’s more adjacent to MeToo than in it. I was struck by the psychobabble of the piece, and I don’t think she’s using the term “gaslight” correctly. She also fills the piece with inspirational quotes and proverbs and it seems unnecessary. Just tell your story.

    I also think she engages in some revisionist history. She posed for cheesy photos in Vanity Fair months after the scandal broke, tried to hawk a handbag line, and hosted a creepy Fox dating show. (It doesn’t seem like she had a lot of sensible people in her life to advise her.) All this is what it is, but she wasn’t hiding from the world, like she tries to imply now.

    That said it is annoying that she’s still a bit of a pariah and Clinton is treated like a rock star. I would say a reckoning is due him.

    • LAK says:

      She accrued a multimillion debt in lawyers fees to ward off Ken Starr and the FBI. Her family wasn’t as wealthy as people assumed. She had no choice but to sell herself (and merchandise) to pay off those bills.

      As for the physchobabble and inspirational quotes, how much therapy do you think you would need to get over the FBI snatching you off a street and holding you hostage in a hotel room (ironically, the watergate!) Without contact with people who know you whilst threatening you with everything unless you give them what they want?

      Not forgetting the worlwide slutshaming she has endured since 1998.

      • Millenial says:

        I tend to think the slut-shaming aspect of her story is more adjacent to the #metoo movement than anything. Two are two sides of the same coin. To her credit, she says people keep asking her and her response is “I don’t know” while also acknowledging the extreme imbalance of power in their relationship.

        I tend to think she was very reckless and stupid, and Bill, being the vastly more experienced adult, should have known better and shut it down.

      • LAK says:

        Millenial: I remember being so disappointed by the preeminent feminist thinkers of the day because they all slut-shamed her. Just about the only famous person who pointed out the power imbalance AND the revolting slut-shaming was Madonna. Go figure.

        Until the #metoo movement, public reaction to Monica remained in the slut-shaming area, this forum included.

        This is the first time she’s piped up and people aren’t automatically and reactively slut-shaming her.

      • magnoliarose says:

        I was too young at the time to digest the whole scandal properly, but I never thought of her as a tart. Perhaps it is generational I am not sure.
        I did think she was horribly treated and used.
        I thought other people victimized her but not Bill Clinton. My parents weren’t Clinton fans. They were Democrats (not anymore as of recently), so perhaps I heard a different take from them. My mother specifically doesn’t like him at all. She blames him for what happened to Monica afterward as far as finances. He went on to make millions, and she was broke.
        But that is more a commentary on society.

      • Lightpurple says:

        And then locked Lindsay Graham in there with you.

      • CynicalCeleste says:

        100% LAK.

      • Megan says:

        @LAK she was interviewed in her mother’s apartment at the Watergate, not the hotel. The Watergate is a large complex that includes a co-op, hotel, shopping center, and offices.

        Monica’s legal bills were compounded by the fact she lied in her deposition, tried to coach Linda Tripp to lie, and hired Plato Cacheris, who was one of the most well known and expensive lawyers in DC.

      • LAK says:

        Megan: Later interviews were conducted at her mother’s apartment, but the first one was in a hotel room. Her mother had no idea she was being interrogated in that hotel room.

        Regardless of why she had legal bills to that level, fact remains that she needed the kind of lawyer that could make Ken Starr (and everyone in the establishment gunning for the Clintons who wanted to use her) go away.

      • AnneC says:

        Well she should be outraged that the republicans in congress (who were all busy having affairs and hiring call girls) turned this into a circus and a personal affair into an impeachable event. What she and Clinton did consensually was none of our business (morally I found it repugnant but they were both adults) but republicans forced her out in the open in hopes of taking down a democratic president. Write essays about their hypocrisy and how they wasted millions of dollars and caused your financial problems.

    • Otaku Fairy says:

      There seems to be a little bit of revisionist history going on with her age when the affair happened too. My first time hearing about Monica Lewinsky was maybe about a year or two before Obama first became president, but didn’t this affair happen in 1997 or so? That would put Monica at 24, not 22.

  10. Jen says:

    There are gender issues within the Lewinsky-Clinton affair worth looking at and talking about-but sexual assault is not one of them. I don’t like this from her, not at all.

    I’m sad to say the other night I overheard a group of men and women, all probably 20s and 30s, discussing whether #metoo has gone “too far.” I hate to think of how this could bolster that.

    • EOA says:

      But she didn’t claim she was sexually assaulted, even in this essay. She said the opposite. What she did point out is that the consent issues were muddied by her age and role, and that isn’t some radical thought. That was being discussed even when it happened.

      • Jen says:

        Not a radical thought, no, but attaching it to #metoo seems more harmful than positive for change as a whole. I believe she regrets the affair, and I believe she was a scapegoat while many have glossed over the entire affair and aftermath with Clinton. Absolutely unfair and sexist.

        Should that be a conversation? Absolutely. Should it be included as part of the #metoo conversation? My opinion is no.

      • Kitten says:

        Yeah I actually thought she did a good job making it clear that she doesn’t think her experience belongs with #Metoo and I think most of us can agree with her.

  11. adastraperaspera says:

    Not really buying what she is selling here. I had an affair with someone who was married and older than me when I was her age. And who was my boss. It didn’t end well. I regret it. Would not attach a #metoo label to my experience. Seems disrespectful of those who are truly victimized.

    • Claire says:

      SO DID I. Exact same scenario. I did think about it a lot after some prompting of friends, wondering if he abused his power, him being the boss, me being the subordinate, but I really don’t think so. I was completely into it. I’d like to think I’m not THAT naive that I fooled myself into thinking I never consented, or couldn’t consent due to the nature of our working relationship.

      • Carey says:

        If your boss slept with you while you were reporting into him, that’s an inherent abuse of power. There’s a reason there are HR codes against it and why universities don’t permit professors to date students who are enrolled in their classes. The threat of quid pro quo and retaliation always looms over those relationships even if it’s never stated by either party. Your boss may never have coerced you or threatened you but he was in a position to hurt your career if he wanted to and that’s why it’s an abuse of power. Do not sleep with a subordinate is like Bossing 101.

      • Claire says:

        I should rephrase. I got a little too jumpy when I saw someone else had had a similar experience. We never slept together, so I’m not sure if that has to happen for something to be considered an affair. Just about everything else happened, but nothing was consummated. Definitely some inappropriate contact.

    • Dixiebells says:

      I agree with @carey. I work at a University and we regularly work on sh policies for employees and faculty. I think Monica Lewinsky made an epic mistake. And she consensually pursued Clinton. It was still on HIM as the person in power (and this is magnified more so than just a garden variety manager or supervisor because he was literally one of the most powerful people in the world) to not engage. When that doesn’t happen the threat of quid pro quo, hostile work environment, retaliation etc is always there due to the power imbalance. You can’t dismiss that from a policy standpoint just because the parties consented and felt good about it. Or else the policy becomes meaningless. Any policy I’ve worked on is about the power discrepancy, not how the parties feel at the end of the relationship. I think it’s valuable for her to bring this up in the context of me too to examine what HIS response should have been in his supervisory position. And yes I think she was an idiot for getting into this. I can also think she was the lesser power in a power imbalanced relationship and that is part of the discussion about sexual harassment in the workplace.

  12. EOA says:

    It sounds to like she is thoughtfully examining what happened to her and good for her. She’s not claiming she had no agency but she’s also recognizing that there were limits on her agency because of her age and experience. That sounds right to me.

    She was savaged by the media during the scandal and IMO she has every right to re-examine the caricature that was created and to reclaim her identity.

  13. LAK says:

    Watching what happened to her in real time was so deeply traumatising to me in terms of the power of the establishment, nevermind the permanent scarlet letter branded on her by the public, that i will forever give her my sympathy where she deserves it or not.

    The image of her being marched into court in leg irons like she was a common criminal is forever branded in my brain.

    #team Monica Lewisky. Always.

    • Jussie says:

      Co-sign.

    • a reader says:

      co signed as well

    • Rapunzel says:

      LAK – You know who I have sympathy for? Chelsea. She had to suffer the indignity of watching this happened to her father. You know who else I feel sorry for? Hillary. Her husband’s indiscretions and her choice to forgive him and keep her life in tact has Been used to vilify her and label her a rape and enablist.

      You know who I don’t feel sorry for? Monica. She knew she was getting involved with a married man. There was a power imbalance but He was not Using that power against her, at least not according to her story. At her age, I knew better than to mess with married men no matter how powerful they were. Painting her as some sort of sympathetic figure just give credence to the lie that Clinton did something Predatory rather than Just adUltErous. It muddies the Me Too waters and infantilizes women as incapable of making choices as adults. Monica was no child.

      I’m not saying we should vilify Monica or act like she’s some sort of sl*t to shame. I actually like her. She made a stupid mistake. I don’t hold it against her. But I also don’t pity her or sympathize with her because of it. She should have known better. And at this point she should know better than to keep talking because that youthful indiscretion is best left in the past.

      In short, Bill is a jackass, Monica was a fool, and Hillary and Chelsea only ones who I feel sorry for.

    • L84Tea says:

      @LAK THIS x 1000!!

    • CynicalCeleste says:

      LAK, I felt and feel the exact same way, thank you for saying this.

    • felixswan2 says:

      @LAK 100% agree. I’m surprised by the lack of support she’s receiving. Yes, she was technically an adult at 22, but also at 22 your prefrontal cortex is not fully developed, and you are still not completely rational and grounded in your decision making. Bill Clinton was 49 years old and was in the most powerful position in the country as the president of the United States! There was a HUGE power differential, and this needs to be included within the #MeToo movement.

    • LAK says:

      Rapunzel: Monica has never played the victim in terms of the affair. Then or now. And i’m not infantilising her by saying she was abused by the establishment AND the public. That is an irrefutable fact.

      I think you forget that she was a hostile witness betrayed and threatened by all the people around her with the exception of her family.

      Sure it was humiliating for Chelsea and Hilary, but they were not snatched off the street by the FBI and held against their will in a hotel room for hours whilst being threatened by the same FBI unless they co-operated.

      They are not the ones who were befriended by so-so-called sympathetic friends (Tripp) who turned around and betrayed them because of a longstanding grudge against the Clintons and Monica was the bait they needed to finally get their revenge.

      They were not led in leg-irons to give testimony to the grand jury as if they were common criminals.

      And after all that, this man (Bill Clinton) that she thought she was in love with and owed allegiance denied her on world-wide television and set his team on her to paint her as a stalker and slut with no morals.

      And in the meantime, Monica had to hire the kind of lawyers that would make Ken Starr and the FBI and entire apparatus of the establishment determined to get Clinton to back off leaving her with debts in the millions.

      And that’s before you get to the decades long slut-shaming by the public at large.

      Everyone’s sympathy was for Chelsea whilst ignoring the ergregious abuse of power against Monica.

      And by the way, no one lets her forget about that youthful indescretion. She’s forever the scarlet woman. Yes, she might pop up once in a while to discuss the effects it’s having or had on her life, but she navigates that life as a scarlet woman because no one will let her forget it. Not just fancy magazines, but regular, everyday people.

      As for Hilary, perhaps you should read George stephanopoulos’s memoir about how she handled Bill’s indescretions during this time, including Monica. If a pro-Clinton person like him, who worked with the Clintons on their campaigns and inside the WH is saying it, who are we to argue?

      • Rapunzel says:

        LAK – Those are all very good points, but ultimately none of that would happen if Monica had just chosen not to sleep with a married man. She made a choice and I’m sorry I don’t sympathize with her for having to face the consequences of that choice.

        Ken Starr and the press were jerks. That’s for sure. And Bill Clinton is a huge a**hole, personally. But Monica is no little girl that needs our pity for having to face the consequences of her own actions.

      • LAK says:

        Rapunzel – People have affairs all the time. Even with the POTUS. They do not deserve to be thrown in metaphoric jail for it and slut-shamed for eternity.

        I guess you’d have no sympathy for Anne Boleyn too.

      • perplexed says:

        “But Monica is no little girl that needs our pity for having to face the consequences of her own actions.”

        I sympathize with Hillary and Chelsea over Monica, but I’ll admit that if Monica had to face consequences, I don’t think they needed to be in a court of law. She should have just faced the normal consequences people in regular life do — the scorn of the wife and the daughter and possibly their friends, not necessarily a bunch of prosecutors. What she did was morally incorrect, but not criminal.

        The media won’t let this story go, so I guess I’m starting to feel sorry for everybody involved, except for the prosecutor (who doesn’t seem to be judged harshly enough).

      • tealily says:

        “What she did was morally incorrect, but not criminal.” Exactly.

      • SoulSPA says:

        I realize this may be an unpopular idea here. From as far as I remember she was was treated harshly by authorities because it was assumed by default she had posed a security threat. Talking about the 90s here. Not only had she actively pursued Clinton but she had boasted about it. What were her real intentions, or what could have happened if hostile powers had known about their affair? Women have been used all throughout history to get close to men in positions of power. That’s a fact. My comment is not about slut-shaming. Not about Clinton’s male and power privilege. A few people knew about the affair. Security concerns were real and good for the FBI to take care of the situation twenty years ago.

      • LAK says:

        Soulspa: That’s not true at all. The authorities didn’t know about Monica nor suspect she existed UNTIL she was moved to the Pentagon and was befriended by Linda Tripp.

        Tripp’s history with the Clintons has been lost in time and her part in the Monica scandal is retold in the most superficial terms.

        Linda Tripp was working in the WH where she claimed to have seen the aftermath of Bill’s encounter with an another intern called Kathleen Wiley. When Linda spoke out, she was smeared and ridiculed and moved along to the Pentagon which she regarded as a demotion.

        When Monica was moved to the Pentagon after Bill broke off their affair, Linda was super interested in her when she discovered that Monica had worked so close to Clinton. She manipulated Monica into revealing details of her time at the WH until eventually Monica revealed her affair with Bill.

        Linda manipulated Monica into revealing more and more about the affair whilst secretly taping those conversations. She encouraged Monica to continue to contact Bill to continue the affair, coaching her at every step. Unbeknownst to Monica, Linda had contacted the FBI and Ken Starr who encouraged her to continue manipulating and taping Monica.

        Eventually Bill relented and met with Monica which resulted in the infamous blue dress. The next day, Monica told Linda about the dress and what she suspected was on it, and was told by Linda to keep it as a momento rather than send it to the drycleaners which was Monica’s intent.

        And after that conversation, Linda immediately contacted Ken Starr to tell him they had the smoking gun and the rest is history.

        When the FBI and Ken Starr took Monica, they assumed she would cave and give them everything they wanted. They confronted her with all the evidence they had gathered including those tapes and the dress. She refused to cooperate and was thus declared a hostile witness before being hawled off to court in leg irons to testify against Bill.

        All this information is was / is publicly available via the court documents which were dumped in their entirety on the internet.

    • Ochohuit says:

      @ LAK Thank you for writing this. I have been thinking about Lewinsky lately, since the height of the #metoo movement. She deserves to be reconsidered. Absolutely, she is part of a conversation about workplace sexual dynamics and power imbalances, whether there can truly be consent when one person has substantially less power than another (money, power, fame, experience, age…) and the ramifications of the relationship for the two parties — with the less powerful person always having more to lose unless the place of employment puts clear guidelines in place with consequences for the person in the more powerful position. In a decent workplace, a CEO would be fired for using an intern for sex (he had no intention of dating her) and I think Clinton should have been. Again, I think we, the American public should reflect on our treatment and analysis of Lewinsky — we should be ashamed of ourselves but we could also learn something. She was attracted to someone and touched him. To be blunt: She gave him a blow job. That is not a crime. Why do we hate her so?

  14. Rapunzel says:

    Regardless of where Lewinsky’s story belongs in terms of #metoo, she really should keep her mouth shut. Her story has been used as a weapon against Hillary for too long. Stop arming the weaponization of your story, Monica.

    • Darla says:

      Yes, she also humiliated and harmed another woman, and that woman was then demonized as a monster for not embracing her husband’s mistress. And that is something to remember too.

    • magnoliarose says:

      No, she shouldn’t be quiet. She has every right to discuss this. SHE didn’t use her story to embarrass Hilary Clinton.
      Blame Bill for embarrassing his wife. Not Monica who was 23. She’s not Hester Prynne for goodness sake.
      Hillary chose to stay married to philandering Bill. His cheating was known before Monica even got to DC which is why she knew she could entice him.
      Monica paid the highest price in this and it wasn’t very fair.

      • Darla says:

        I’d like to see a little more introspection on her own part. She also had an affair with her married professor prior to this one. She by her own words, went to DC determined to sleep with the married President. So, I stand by my words that she did harm another woman, and that woman has been savaged for decades for not embracing and protecting Lewinsky. She should first own that, and then talk about herself. I hope she has gotten much needed therapy and is no longer obsessed with older, married men.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Magnoliarose- I never said Monica was Hester P. Or that she should be branded with the Scarlet letter. Nor did I say she’s responsible for the right-wing smear job on Hillary.

        Of course Bill is the number one culprit. But 23 is old enough to know better. I stand by that. At 23 I had a masters degree And was teaching at a California State University. Her age is no excuse for Her mistake.

        But that’s not my point anyways. My point was Monica’s Story only serves to remind folks of her mistake. It actually sears to continue her victimization (if she is a victim) because people use her Story against her and against Hillary and Chelsea. As a woman in her 40s she should know Retelling her story is only grist for more pain for her. It’s incredibly sad That she doesn’t recognize she’d be better off moving on.

      • tealily says:

        I don’t know, Darla, isn’t this entire piece introspection? How are you going to see more if she keeps her mouth shut?

      • magnoliarose says:

        A 23-year-old would not be able to navigate the politics of DC or begin to understand the games. This wasn’t getting sexy with a professor. She was not nearly sophisticated enough to know what she was getting herself into in the long run. It was consensual, and she was naive, but all of it was wrong.
        By telling her to go away and own up to her actions that IS like branding her with a scarlet letter. It is assessing too much moral responsibility on her when ultimately she was the most victimized by the time this episode was over. She is still paying the price for being used as a political pawn by no fault of her own.

        I felt sorry for Chelsea too. But her father is responsible for that. If he had been a faithful husband, his daughter would not have suffered. Married men cheat not only on their wives but on their families too. Their lives are disrupted by it, and they suffer emotionally. If he hadn’t been with Monica, it would have been someone else.

        He was closing in on 50. He was far more intelligent, powerful and worldly than Monica by a long shot. He should have known better. He knew what the stakes were and he knew his behavior was a political problem since they trotted out Gennifer Flowers. They were battering him with it when he was the governor of Arkansas.

        Just because he aligns politically with the center-left doesn’t mean he gets special allowances. He still did it after he left office so WHO is the real problem? His behavior chased his wife’s campaign, and it was other women that were used during the debate to hurt Hillary, not Monica. Republicans made this a continuing scandal, and he handed them the weapon.

      • Darla says:

        That’s true Magnolia. There’s no way she could have known or had reason to know what was going to happen. I recall that she teased Clinton about FDR and Lucy Mercer. That’s where her head was at, not in the vicious vipers nest she was actually operating in. But with that given, I personally don’t think that even Clinton himself suspected just how crazy it would get. At that time every President had cheated, and it was well known. Well, except maybe Reagan. But anyway, even his immediate predecessor, HW, had a long time mistress, also named Jennifer, and the WH press corps were well aware of it. They wrote little insider jokes about it that only they and their cohorts got, like “jennifer has served under HW in a variety of positions”. Real quote. I lived through this and remember so much of it. Anyway, I think he still had reason to believe that as President, unlike as Governor, his affairs would be off-limits.

        The 90′s were crazy. The anti-Clinton witch hunts, and they were witch hunts, you had to live through to really believe.

        And also, I haven’t done a good job of explaining my feelings in this thread. I think because I am still very raw over what was done to HRC. I am longtime admirer of hers. Unlike the younger women who weren’t there, and who voted for her as an, eh. This broke my heart. So, I am with her. But I have never, ever, called Monica a name, and I feel a tremendous amount of empathy for her.

    • BostonStrong says:

      If BILL CLINTON had kept it in his pants, then there would be no story to hurt Hilary! So sick of the woman always being blamed for having an affair with a married man!!!! The married man is responsible for HIS actions and the hurt and pain that HE causes his family!!!!

      • Darla says:

        They’re both to blame, IMO. I do agree he holds more blame, but I do not count Monica blameless, I’m sorry. She was an adult, and this was her second affair with a married man. How does that make a person blameless? Do women have no agency? Are they not responsible for their own actions at all?

      • BostonStrong says:

        @Darla…Monica may have had a bad character, but, I do blame Bill, solely, for hurting his family. He made a choice! He could have said “NO”. I’ll never forget seeing Hillary on the Today show after the affair came out. My heart broke for her…

      • Darla says:

        Boston, I actually feel sorry for everyone involved BUT Bill. I am not unsympathetic to Monica, and certainly not to Hillary.

      • BostonStrong says:

        @Rapunzel….so you really don’t care if Monica was treated like a criminal and the scarlet women all these years, and if she does or doesn’t have a right to claim #metoo…you just want her to keep her mouth shut so that she doesn’t hurt your political party! Wow…that is really sad…

    • Chauncey says:

      Yeah no. Monica doesn’t have to ‘keep her mouth shut’. You may not agree with her actions but as a woman she has every right to tell her story just like every other woman who feels she has a story to tell. Hillary is perfectly capable of defending her stance to stand by Bill all these years. I’m the biggest Hilary supporter there is but she choose to stay married to him, she knew WELL before Monica that Bill had a history of sketchy philandering and her actions prove she had no issues with it. If she did she would have divorced him, period. Let’s face it Hillary and Bill had a symbiotic relationship. Monica was what, 21 or 22 when this happened? Yes she may SAY it was consensual and she sought him out and romanticized it but let’s face it, we give Bill a pass on this gross display of abuse of power. If it were say, Harvey Weinstein, and a 21/22 year old intern comes forth and says ‘Yeah, I was in a consensual relationship with Harvey, he never forced himself on me, we had oral sex etc., but it was my choice and I was ok with it because I was in awe of his power in the industry etc and I thought maybe we’d be together and he’d leave his wife for me etc.’ we would ALL feel differently. It would be ‘Harvey abused his power as CEO over this innocent intern who was vulnerable’, ‘She may have thought it was consensual but he was lording his power over her and leading her on psychologically’, ‘He took advantage of an innocent 22 year old’ etc. etc. We need to look VERY carefully at why some women’s stories are held in a different light versus others. I love the legacy Bill Clinton built as a politician and what he did for our country. That has nothing to do with my opinion that he’s not a good person in how he treats women and should be given side eye. If Monica feels years later, in hindsight, that as an adult she sees things differently now then that is her prerogative.

      • Rapunzel says:

        Chauncey- I just wish she’d stop feeding the beast, you know. Just seems like grist for the right-wing nut jobs. That’s really my only problem.

      • Darla says:

        She was 23. I didn’t say she has to keep her mouth shut. I think she should take into account the harm she caused another woman before looking for sympathy. If it were me, I would not be talking, but whatever. That’s fine.

      • Kitten says:

        @ Rapunzel-But I think her speaking out just confirms what everyone on the Left has said since the beginning but what many on the Right intentionally forget: it WAS consensual. I’m not sure she can say it too many times, TBH.

        I don’t know…I like her. I think she made some terrible mistakes and I do agree with LAK that she paid a price for it. I’m not crying for Monica, but like LAK, I remember very clearly how badly she was dragged through the mud: the stained dress, her weight, etc…she became a walking punchline. It was difficult to watch any woman go through that. Of course I feel worst for Hils and Chelsea but I have sympathy for Monica, despite her poor decision-making skills. She seems to have grown a lot…I’m actually surprised people aren’t more receptive to what she’s saying here.

      • Otaku Fairy says:

        It’s really not about protecting the legacy of Bill Clinton- at least not for everybody. There have been other women over the years who have had different #MeToo stories about him, so refusing to infantilize Monica doesn’t mean pretending everything’s aboveboard with Bill.
        If a 22-year-old intern came out admitting that she had a consensual affair with Weinstein like this, I’d say the same thing, but probably think it was not the best time for her to be talking about the affair.

    • perplexed says:

      I think people keep asking her questions. Writing an article is probably the best way for her to answer those questions without having her words and tone twisted (although I do think that’s still happening to some extent).

      She probably doesn’t want to do another television interview, but writing something down is probably the easiest way to answer the questions journalists are seeking from her. Perhaps she also doesn’t want other people co-opting her story. I’ve seen journalists in recent months write about Bill Clinton and how they feel he abused his power (despite the fact that Trump is sitting in the Oval Office right now), and maybe she feels wrath should be directed at Ken Starr rather than Clinton.

  15. ElleC says:

    I’m sad about how she was mistreated in the aftermath of an affair with a powerful married man. And certainly it reflects broader issues of misogyny that she was so tarred and scapegoated. Those are issues worthy of discussion and our compassion, without equating the trauma of being shamed for regrettable consensual sex with the trauma of sexual harassment and assault. They’re not the same and it confuses both issues to suggest they are.

  16. Luvpuppy says:

    Monica wa a willing participant with Clinton and actively pursued him. Clinton and she have felt the repercussions of their illicit behavior. I have no sympathy or empathy for either one of them. Monica should not be a part of #me too movement. It would water down the movement and focus attention on her her . Monica is the past and that is where she should stay. The focus is on the present and how the movement can be beneficial for all women in the workforce.

  17. Montréalaise says:

    She was extremely foolish and made some really bad decisions – but a lot of people in their early twenties make stupid decisions, yet the world forgives them and allows them to move on from that. Not in her case.

  18. Darla says:

    Phew. this is a tough one to unpack. I won’t even attempt it. I personally always thought she had serious father issues, as Clinton was not her first older married man, and at such a young age. And she was treated terribly by the culture and the media. Other than that…it’d be a lot of work to unpack all of this, and I just don’t care enough. It was a long time ago. She paid a ridiculously high price, and I am sorry for her for that.

  19. Juls says:

    The way I read it, she doesn’t know where she fits into the conversation. She recognizes that her experiences were not as tramatic as assault victims because she was a consenting adult. She’s saying that the feelings of being isolated and being gas-lighted are where she fits into the narrative. 20 years later, this defines her in the public sphere. She is still isolated IMO and will never be able to live it down. And the entire world questioned her story, her motives, her feelings, her level of consent, etc. She states that she clung to her truth, or tried to, as the entire world dissected her life and her story. She probably did live through agony, seeing so many falsehoods reported and she really had no recourse. And it still, clearly, affects her life today. Who among us would want our choices at 22 to be haunting us in our forties, never to die and let us move on? I’m not trying to defend the choices she made. I’m just trying to imagine myself in her shoes. How would I handle 2 decades of being famous for knocking knees with the president? I don’t know. I wouldn’t want it to define the rest of my life. She seems strong, mature, and articulate.

  20. Talie says:

    She got screwed by the media, for sure, and her close friend who sold her out. Hell, even the now-lauded Jake Tapper took her out on a date in the 90s and sold her out to jump start his career!

    But no, this was no MeToo story. This was an adultery gone horribly wrong.

  21. Frosty says:

    Not metoo. It was an abuse of power, in my opinion, only in workplace sexual harassment terms, where only a “superior” is able to take advantage of their position. Monica’s always been problematic for me, because by her own testimony she pursued the relationship just as much, if not more, as he did. It was an ordinary adultery in extraordinary circumstances.

    Her testimony is illuminates who and where she was at that time. I felt for her because clearly she was young and foolish and in love, and she hoped he would leave Hillary for her. She still really needs to keep Hillary’s name out of her mouth.

  22. Savasana says:

    I’m going to view this with Monica as my intern daughter in her 20s. She is enamored with this much older man and lacks experience. She is lonely and he shows her attention. The attention turns to gaslighting. NOTHING WORSE. He leads her to believe he has feelings for her and she is special in his life. He gives her access. She is provided ‘keys’ to his inner sanctuary and given intimate knowledge of his life. She house sits while he’s out of town and babysits the much beloved dog. He starts to make her think she’s crazy. He starts to reveal that she’s one of a dozen. He pushes her away. She cuts him off with no contact and he consistently does all he can to suck her back into his web including gifts and poetry. He’s a collector. She REALLY DOES NOT UNDERSTAND.

    She’s in horrible pain. Her mother (me) and brother see this normally super strong young woman breaking down. We beg her to apply the ‘no contact rule’. He continually comes to her job while she’s on shift as a bartender while she’s in grad school. He gives her notes but makes out with another girl in front of her. Turns out he has a ‘regular girlfriend (sucker)’ when he brings in the bar only when she was s working. More bullsheet…more bullsheet…he screws my daughters best friend who also works at the bar. It destroys their friendship, and the best friend is fired from the bar where she’s worked for 4 years. until…

    Yes, very inappropriately her mother (me) stops into the juice bar in town where his ‘regular girlfriend’ works and tells her in front of all co-workers. Your so-called boyfriend is screwing everyone including my daughter and her best friend at the bar he keeps bringing you to. Then I go to his house, inform him that I did so, and promise him I will find him wherever he is and tell everyone what he is and that one of his conquests in another state is pregnant. AND that I will sick the cops on him because turns out he transports weed across state lines. He f*cked off. #manyGirlstoo

    The end.

    • Zapp Brannigan says:

      ” stops into the juice bar in town where his ‘regular girlfriend’ works and tells her in front of all co-workers” good call on humiliating and hurting the innocent party in her place of employment. It is always a great idea to make the innocent partner bare the brunt of the cheaters bad actions, and before you come back with “momma bear” bull what you did was not out of concern for leading the innocent partner into the light and out of the dark about her boyfriends actions, it was an act of revenge/spite because your daughter was hurt, you just did not care that you hurt someone else’s daughter.

      • Darla says:

        Yeah, this is a really awful story. You pinpointed exactly why Zapp.

      • Zapp Brannigan says:

        Thank you Darla, I have been in that position and sometimes think I am hyper sensitive to tales of infidelity. There are not enough words to describe how awful it is in that moment when you find out, I can’t imagine what it would be like to have someone bawling it at you in work.

      • Anna says:

        problem is, the moderator left out my reply which showed she ended up happier and better for knowing, no matter how inappropriate my actions

    • Erinn says:

      I would diiieeee if my mother did that.

  23. Merritt says:

    While I think abuse of power is part of the greater conversation with sexual misconduct, consensual relationships should not be part of #metoo.

  24. a reader says:

    It’s really long past time to leave Monica alone. No more slut shaming (yep, directing this as the first comment). She was young and naive and didn’t know any better, and even though she says it was a consensual affair the power imbalance was striking and Clinton should’ve shut that down, period.

  25. perplexed says:

    I think she admits she doesn’t know whether her story belongs with #MeToo. Maybe she wrote the article because people keep asking her about it.

  26. Igotbiglipsandicannotlie says:

    In my opinion, she is not a part of the #metoo movement. I definitely feel like she got way more blame than she deserved but she wanted the affair with Bill to happen. She pursued, she consented. I don’t think she deserved all the slut-shaming etc. that came with it though.

  27. reverie says:

    Wait. What. We are including instances of sexual regret as part of the #metoo? Or at least within it’s sphere of conversation?

    This is why the world never changes.

    • perplexed says:

      She said she doesn’t excuse herself of responsibility.

      I think her regret comes from how she was treated afterwards. She’s defined by this relationship for the rest of her life, whether she likes it or not. Had no one ever found out about it, she would have just gone on with her life. So I don’t think she regrets the relationship itself, but the resulting consequences. I think she’s basically saying she was traumatized by the prosecution and the public, not by the man himself.

      All of her anger seems to be at Ken Starr, not Bill Clinton.

  28. littlemissnaughty says:

    Well sh*t. Now an ill-advised affair with a much older, wildly powerful man is automatically #metoo-adjacent? For 20 years she’s been adamant (and still is, apparently) that she wanted the affair. And now she’s reconsidering … well, what, exactly? The question whether she could truly consent at all? She seems to think so. And not. WHAT?

    What he did was wrong. He used his position to charm the skirt off an intern without regard for her, the office, his wife, daughter, or his party. He left a trail of destruction. I don’t blame her for doing what she did. The media was viscious, the entire thing ugly as hell. But ill-advised is not #metoo-adjacent.

  29. Betsy says:

    It’s not even #metoo adjacent. Nothing, save the aftermath, was outside her consent. There was a gross power imbalance, but she went into this with her eyes open and her mind made up. I really do feel bad for her Linda Tripp and the RWNJ brigade-led dragging her through the streets, but none of this was against her will. That’s not #metoo, that’s growing up (albeit in an unfortunately bright light). She was in her early 20s, not her late teens.

  30. Andreia says:

    I could be wrong, but wasn’t a big part the #metoo movement about the abuse of power…. I recall many of the stories told have been stories of men in power expecting sexual favors or how women felt they had no choice. I appreciate the fact that she said she was a willing participate. It would be easier for her to say she wasn’t and point the finger at Clinton. But there was an abuse power. His age, experience and power compared to hers… If you removed the names involved and just heard the story i believe more people would be in agreement.

  31. a reader says:

    these comments are pretty disgusting. so judgemental, so holier than thou, tearing down a woman who was publicly humiliated for her youthful decisions.

    wow, what a stellar community of commenters.

    • MrsBanjo says:

      100% this. 20 years on and she’s still being slut-shamed. These comments are vile. And I wonder how many people actually read her essay. She doesn’t say she’s an assault victim. She’s speaking specifically about the aftermath, while including a discussion about power dynamics.

      It’s amazing. She was treated horrifically following this, 20 years later she still is, while Bill Clinton has barely a scratch on him.

    • LAK says:

      …..tearing down a woman who continues to be publicly humiliated for her youthful decisions….fixed it for you.

    • Kitten says:

      I would never call cheating with a married PRESIDENT a “youthful indiscretion”. I mean, that’s a grossly cavalier way to describe what she did. Her actions didn’t occur in a vacuum: her selfish behavior caused great harm to Hillary and Chelsea as well.

      And while I don’t disagree with everything you’ve said, there’s a reason why people jumped on your initial comment and the infantilizing language you used to describe Monica. She was a 22 year old WOMAN who pursued a married man and not just any married man, but arguably the most well-known and powerful man in the world. SHE is saying that she knew exactly what she was doing and that it wasn’t coerced or a mistake.

      Come on now.

      You can feel sympathy for how the media treated her at the time (I do too, believe me) but there is no need to rewrite history. Monica has always said it was consensual, intentional and premeditated: something she had planned since before she became an intern. You need to believe her and recognize her agency instead of projecting a made-up narrative onto her.

      • Betsy says:

        This! She wasn’t a teenager, she was in her early 20s. No, people in their early 20s don’t always make the best decisions, but my goodness, she premeditated an affair. It wasn’t a split second decision she made. One of the consequences of consensual sexual activity is owning the results. It’s abominable that the machine went after her, but this is partially on her. That’s not slut shaming. That’s factual.

  32. perplexed says:

    She might be re-contemplating her situation because people keep asking her about it. Maybe that’s where the “wondering” part comes in — people won’t stop asking her how she assesses her situation.

    But after she e-contemplates her situation, I don’t think she considers herself part of #MeToo.

    The article starts off dissing Ken Starr. I think that’s the dude she really hates.

  33. Jaded says:

    Monica’s parents’ acrimonious separation and divorce during 1987 and 1988 had a significant effect on her and I think she developed a serious personality disorder as a result:

    “Histrionic personality disorder (HPD) is defined by the American Psychiatric Association as a personality disorder characterized by a pattern of excessive attention-seeking emotions, usually beginning in early adulthood, including inappropriately seductive behavior and an excessive need for approval.”

    That would explain her overly flirtatious and inappropriately seductive behaviour with both George Stephanopoulos, then Clinton. George had her transferred to another position to get her out of his hair, which coincidentally put her in closer contact with Clinton. I feel sorry for her in that a disorder of this type wrecks not only the sufferer’s life but others around her – family, friends, co-workers, etc. I’ve been through a situation like that with someone and it’s like being in a hurricane. You have to immediately step away from them and have no contact. Clinton’s d*ck did the talking with her and it led him to near impeachment, ruined her family financially, and left her a sad joke of a human being after Ken Starr chewed her up and spat her out. She should not link what happened to her with the #metoo movement, and own the fact that her inappropriate behaviour coupled with Clinton’s wandering d*ck issues became the perfect storm.

    • Darla says:

      I didn’t know any of this about Stephanopoulos, and I haven’t read his memoir. What an idiot he is, he certainly knew about Bill’s wandering zipper problem, and he has this young woman transferred into closer contact with Clinton because she is too inappropriately flirtatious with him. Genius!

      Well, anyway, at least he was single. If he had been interested, 90′s history would read quite differently, isn’t that something? But he’s a twerp and I bet never went for a woman more than 101 pounds.

    • perplexed says:

      This question might be off-topic, but is it possible to be cure of this type of personality disorder? She seems more balanced and self-aware now.

      • Jaded1014 says:

        Yes it is but it takes years of intense therapy. In essence you have to teach the part of your brain that governs mature decision-making which stops developing due to childhood/ teenage trauma and fear of abandonment. It’s the last part of the brain to fully mature, sometime in your early twenties, which accounts for all the dumb decisions kids and teenagers make until they learn to comprehend the consequences of their behaviour. I’m sure she has had the appropriate therapies to help her learn to cope with her disorder.

  34. dumbledork says:

    It’s kind of amazing the mental gymnastics that some go through to give both Clinton’s a pass; Bill for his assaults and Hilary for her slut-shaming and defense of her husband to the detriment of the multitude of women who came forward with their stories. While I don’t believe Monica’s story falls within the metoo movement, she is definitely a victim of two people more powerful, and old enough to know better. They painted her as a stalker and a psycho, and he got away with little more than a slap on the wrist. He was in the wrong, yet he continued to profit from his speeches, and she went into hiding.

    • perplexed says:

      Does Monica feel she was a victim of….Hillary? I don’t get that sense.

      I get the impression she abhors Ken Starr for what he did to her.

    • Betsy says:

      Good grief. Bill didn’t assault anyone. And in this one instance in which Hillary was the cheated upon spouse, who was talking with her friends? Yeah, I’m going to let her bad mouthing of the other woman be.

      • LearningtheSystem says:

        “One instance?” Do you think he only cheated one time?

      • Betsy says:

        Do you know of other instances [i]in which Hillary has been pilloried for speaking negatively about Bill’s affair partners?[/i] Because this is the only instance for which I have heard her criticized for speaking negatively about the AP.

    • magnoliarose says:

      There were a lot of adults responsible. The entire GOP to begin with, Linda Tripp, media vultures, right-wing pundits and talk radio, Bill Clinton…but not Hillary.
      Women who choose to sleep with married men have blood on their hands, but they aren’t the ones who are ultimately responsible for the cheater.
      Monica isn’t innocent; she is not a metoo story.
      But she is a worthy story and another part of dynamics between men, women, and power that should be an important topic of discussion.

  35. Shannon says:

    It was very much a #metoo moment, absolutely. She was straight up thrown under the bus in a way that would not have happened if the tables were turned and she was a man with power.

    • LearningtheSystem says:

      But, would she have been known to any of us if the man in question hadn’t been in power? The only reason she was relevant was because of the man. She was collateral damage absolutely (significantly), but she wasn’t the real target at the time – merely the tool used to get to the real target. I don’t think it would have mattered if she had been a man and the facts slightly different. Anyone in a position to bring something against the powerful man would have been used. Is that a factor in considering if it is #metoo?

  36. Gabrielle says:

    If there had been no Monica, would Hilary be president? Would there be no Trump backlash and no #metoo? Just curious.

    • magnoliarose says:

      I am sure it is all connected on a deeper level but I don’t know. I wasn’t old enough to put the arch together and really know what it was like to be an adult at that time. I haven’t read enough about it to know the answers.
      Hmmm interesting though.

  37. Olenna says:

    No, Monica. You need to sit this one out.

  38. Ms says:

    IMO, she was absolutely sexually exploited by the press. I find it quite #metoo adjacent.

  39. mel says:

    I think maybe there is an argument for adjacency to #Metoo. There is the aspect of “he said-she said”, where the more powerful male tried pull the usual “she’s lying” card. Embarrassing proof had to be publicly trotted out, at which point she was believed but also despised. And despite the fact that it was he who cheated on his wife and perjured himself, he remained president, and then statesmen, while she became pariah and punchline for 20 years. So no, I don’t really want to see a #Metoo from her (and she really didn’t claim one), but I now belatedly give her compassion as someone who also made a dumb choice in the throes of 22 and unfairly bore the brunt of the fallout. Fortunately for me it didn’t play out in the public sphere.

    • perplexed says:

      I think she was willing to deny an affair had happened if knowledge of that dress hadn’t happened (I think?). I don’t know if it was the usual he-said/she-said. She was a hostile witness. I don’t think she wanted to admit to anything, but everyone dragged her to court and she couldn’t lie under oath (I’m wondering what would have happened if she had perjured herself).

  40. Riley says:

    I don’t know if her story belongs adjacent to the #metoo stories, but I do and always will feel sorry for her. She did something really stupid when she was young and her whole life has been defined by it. Clinton got a pat on the back. Long term, besides being the brunt of a few jokes, it didn’t hurt him at all. Neither did the hundreds of other infidelities he committed.

    A BJ @22 now defines her life. I’d hate for my whole life to be defined by something stupid I did at 22. Not many people’s lives could stand up to that kind of scrutiny, mine included.

  41. Suzanne says:

    Wow…trying to get to the bottom of this list of responses…was eye brow raising! Must be all these folks watched that special on FOX News Channel last night all about her scandal.
    I got thru the first part but shut it off…
    I think she needs to keep herself behind the curtain and live her life privately. She already is famous and not for a good reason. He’s a pig…we know that. She was a poor kid who got taken up with a powerful man…but we all know how he denied her…when push came to shove.

  42. Anare says:

    I agree that she was treated horribly after that affair was exposed, however I do not agree that she was victimized by Clinton. Yes he was older, in a position of power. But he didn’t use his power to groom her or coerce her or threaten her in any way. She wanted the intimacy as much as he did. Yes she was young. Many of us did things in our youth that we think better of 20 years later. I know I did and I’m grateful none of it is front page news.

  43. TuxCat5 says:

    No. Now get lost, Monica.

  44. Professor Highbrow says:

    I believe her.

  45. Mabs A'Mabbin says:

    Just because she was young and in a consensual relationship with someone she shouldn’t have been smoking cigars with does not make her a victim. She wasn’t. She wanted the prez, she got the prez along with all the consequences. End of story.

  46. Karen says:

    No, her story doesn’t belong in MeToo at all. She wanted that dick, she got it. She got what she wanted and she actively pursued what she wanted. Women should also hold responsibility for their choices and actions ffs.