Monica Lewinsky goes #MeToo and just doesn't get it
Monica Lewinsky is back again, in yet another new and improved incarnation (what is this, her eighth?), this time seeking relevance as part of the #MeToo movement. Before this one, she made comebacks as a champion for privacy, a champion against cyber-bullying, and a champion for impartial jurors, and probably some other stuff, as well as a comeback for selling handbags. Each comeback brought a big claim of being newer, better, and Over It...and well, she's doing it now. She's written a long piece for Vanity Fair attempting to say she was the first #MeToo recipient.
It rings hollow, given that she initiated her own sexual dalliances with then-president Bill Clinton, and then couldn't keep her mouth shut about them to others, and as that got around, she worsened her woes by lying about it to the prosecutors to protect Clinton, when she should have just told the truth and gotten it over with. Somehow, by Lewinsky's logic, that string of personal stupidities goes into the same category as actress Rose McGowan being spied on, threatened, and career-ruined totally against her will by the monstrously powerful Harvey Weinstein of Hollywood. Actually, she has nothing in common with #MeToo. She's arguably a reason why so many abuses went on.
Insecure as ever, she remains obsessed with presenting herself as still pretty in photos (in some of her previous comebacks, she posed glamorously for photographers, as she did in this one) – apparently still traumatized by the New York Post dubbing her the Portly Pepperpot. She's also anxious to convince us she's smart, using great big William F. Buckley-sized words (epigenetic? pentimento?) in her new Vanity Fair piece, longing to live down her reputation as a ditzy strumpet first time we met her.
Her argument that she's in the #MeToo club pretty much can be summed up with this:
That I had made mistakes, on that we can all agree. But swimming in that sea of Aloneness was terrifying.
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. If the Internet was a bête noire to me in 1998, its stepchild – social media – has been a savior for millions of women today (notwithstanding all the cyberbullying, online harassment, doxing, and slut-shaming). Virtually anyone can share her or his #MeToo story and be instantly welcomed into a tribe. In addition, the democratizing potential of the Internet to open up support networks and penetrate what used to be closed circles of power is something that was unavailable to me back then. Power, in that case, remained in the hands of the president and his minions, the Congress, the prosecutors, and the press.
Oh, really? As if the prosecutor, the president, the Congress, and the press were all on one side, the side of power, and she didn't have social media to tell her it was all OK? This sounds wretched.
What Lewinsky doesn't get is that Bill Clinton is a leftist. And left-wingers of all stripes go out of their way to defend leftists in power, no matter what they do. If Clinton took advantage of a 20-something intern, it was worth smearing the intern rather than getting rid of the guy, with the risk of handing power to a Republican. The press, the Democrats, the feminists, and others were all into defending Clinton and throwing their principles out the window, declaring "it's just about sex" in their bid to undermine Special Prosecutor Ken Starr's job to get to the bottom of it. That she tried to defend Clinton in her own way, by lying to protect him, is what left her isolated. A social media group full of other leftists wouldn't have been likely to have called for Clinton to pay for his abuses of power because Lewinsky was on it.
Seriously, she doesn't get this. She thinks lefties would have stuck up for her as a "victim" (which she wasn't) if it could cost them the presidency? It's just not the way leftists are wired. They will stick up for a left-wing president no matter what he does – and smear anyone who gets in his way, which is exactly what they did.
Monica Lewinsky, TV Mingle Media, CC0 2.0.
Her first claim, in her Vanity Fair piece, that the Clinton-Lewinsky scandal changed America offers a clue as to why this is so, why sex harassment could go on so long in Hollywood, the press, and politics. She writes:
Certainly, the events of that year did not constitute a war or a terrorist attack or a financial recession. They didn't constitute a natural catastrophe or a medical pandemic or what experts refer to as "Big T" traumas. But something had shifted nonetheless. And even after the Senate voted in 1999 to acquit President Clinton on two articles of impeachment, we could not escape the sense of upheaval and partisan division that lingered, settled in, and stayed.
As a society, we went through this together. And ever since, the scandal has had an epigenetic quality, as if our cultural DNA has slowly been altered to ensure its longevity. If you can believe it, there has been at least one significant reference in the press to that unfortunate spell in our history every day for the past 20 years. Every. Single. Day.
What she means is something quite simple – a lot simpler than a sentence that requires the use of the word "epigenetic."
Bill Clinton and his impunity lowered the bar.
And yes, society did change. Abuses of power did happen here and there, frequently with Democratic pols, but they also spread rapidly to the celebrity world and the media and became the norm. The idea was that leftists in power were to be protected at all cost, lest a Republican take power. With Republicans pretty well scrubbed from those worlds, the door was open to sex harassment just by default. Because it was "just about sex."
What caused that? The lowered bar of Bill Clinton. Who helped lower the bar, defending him, lying for him, getting herself into legal trouble because she still was in love with him? Monica Lewinsky. Now she says she's part of the #MeToo movement – newer and better than ever in her latest comeback.