In an essay published in Vanity Fair, Monica Lewinsky reflects on being thrust into the spotlight in 1998, and 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 writes. "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."
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 recognize that it constituted a gross abuse of power." As more women's stories accumulate, their experiences are more often heard and, more importantly, believed — something Lewinsky didn't feel from the public in 1998.
Lewinsky reveals that she's since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder triggered by "the ordeal of having been publicly outed and ostracized back then." But adds that the #MeToo movement has provided her a new lens through which to reevaluate her experience, and the trauma of being publicly ostracized in her early 2os.
"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 writes. "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."
You can read the rest of Lewinsky's essay in Vanity Fair.
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