It has been 20 years since the investigation into Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky’s extramarital affair. In the time of the #MeToo movement, Lewinsky is reevaluating the issue of consent and how power played a role in her relations with the former president.
In a written exclusive for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky has shifted her view on the consensual nature of her relationship with Clinton. She has now realized that the bond “constituted a gross abuse of power.” This sentiment is a drastic change from the views she expressed in the publication year four years ago.
“Sure my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship,” Lewinsky penned in 2014. “Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”
In the last two decades, Lewinsky has learned and matured enough to see how the power dynamic played a role in the affair. “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 is now also well aware of how the implications of trauma may have affected her naive viewpoint. She credited the #MeToo movement and the growing consciousness of society’s take on sexual misconduct with helping change her mind.
On the #MeToo movement Lewinsky wrote, “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.”
“I — we — owe a huge debt of gratitude to the #MeToo and Time’s Up heroines,” she wrote. “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.”
Lewinsky now categorizes her past relations with Clinton as full of “inappropriate abuse of authority, station, and privilege.”