20 years ago, shocking news began to emerge that President Bill Clinton, one the most well-known men in the world at the time, was having an affair with a young White House intern named Monica Lewinsky. These shocking allegations were unearthed by Ken Starr, who at the time was an independent counsel assigned to investigate the White House. Clinton was eventually impeached after lying under oath about the relationship, but was later acquitted his previous punishments.
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While Clinton’s presidency may have ended years ago, the scandal that defined the later years his time in fice has persisted within the public eye, accentuating various punchlines in the process. However, Lewinsky has publicly revealed that she suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result the seemingly unending media coverage surrounding her tryst with the former commander in chief.
In the wake the #MeToo movement that has swept the world and brought integral attention to a covert phenomenon plaguing many industries, Lewinsky has begun to reevaluate her position within the affair. While their relationship was consensual, Lewinsky notes how Clinton’s status and power made it a little difficult for her to reject his advances (seeing as how she was an intern in her early 20s when the two first became intimate with one another.) In an essay published in Vanity Fair, Lewinsky admits that “I now see how problematic it was that the two us even got to a place where there was a question consent. Instead, the road that led there was littered with inappropriate abuse authority, station, and privilege.”
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Lewinsky also reveals how a key figure in the #MeToo movement had apologized to her as early as last year for enduring such a public scandal without any support. She notes how “by and large I had been alone. So. Very. Alone. Publicly Alone—abandoned most all by the key figure in the crisis, who actually knew me well and intimately. That I had made mistakes, on that we can all agree. But swimming in that sea Aloneness was terrifying.”
Lewinsky ultimately believes that her rise to ubiquity in 1998 shed light on a scenario that has become quite persistent in 2018; the image the once-powerful man who has become disgraced because his indecencies. She writes that “both clinically and observationally, something fundamental changed in our society in 1998, and it is changing again as we enter the second year the Trump presidency in a post-Cosby-Ailes-O’Reilly-Weinstein-Spacey-Whoever-Is-Next world. The Starr investigation and the subsequent impeachment trial Bill Clinton amounted to a crisis that Americans arguably endured collectively—some us, obviously, more than others. It was a shambolic morass 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.”