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Image / Editorial

Hillary Clinton won’t discuss her Monica Lewinsky comments, but that’s not the point


by Jennifer McShane
28th Oct 2018

Every time I go to type the words ‘Hillary Clinton’ and ‘Monica Lewinsky’ I get angry. I get angry because Hilary Clinton will forever be pitted against Monica Lewinsky, while the media at large decides to very carefully omit almost any references to the man that almost solidly ruined the life of a young woman and lied to his then-wife – and the entire world – about what really happened.

I get angry because, though I very much longed Clinton to be the first female president of the United States, when it comes to discussing her comments on Lewinsky, her views still remain warped, especially in an era where powerful men are being forced to answer to their accusers.

Monica Lewinsky was just 22-years-old when she worked as an unpaid White House intern in summer 1995 when her affair with Bill Clinton, the then-49-year-old president of the United States, began.

As a result, much of her young adult life was ruined. Lewinsky was investigated in 1998 by an independent prosecutor, Ken Starr who, according to a first-person interview with Vanity Fair, “[was] accompanied by a group of F.B.I. agents [that] had hustled me into a hotel room near the Pentagon and informed me that unless I cooperated with them I could face 27 years in prison.”

That Lewinsky made a very big mistake is without question; she has said she deeply regrets it. Clinton was investigated and impeached. But today, he is still lauded as a charismatic public figure, despite the fact that the scandal was one of several instances where the former president was accused of inappropriate sexual conduct.

The Starr investigation as it was known, turned Lewinsky’s “24-year-old life into a living hell.” She said she was bullied to the point of feeling suicidal.

On the other side, Hillary’s life was also pulled out from under her. She appeared sombre and stone-faced as her husband admitted to his affair (The Good Wife’s early seasons were said to be hugely influenced by her), publically – as well as privately – having to deal with the pain and humiliation of the fallout.

It’s no surprise that after 20 years, she is reluctant to discuss that period of her life, but that’s not the issue. Her recent comments poorly reflect a woman who insists she remains dedicated to uplifting women to ensure that “no voice stifled or ignored any longer.” Founder of the #MeToo movement Tanya Burke has called her words “tragic.”

 

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“She was an adult.”

Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky was consensual but nonetheless a clear abuse of professional and sexual power – yet Hillary Clinton’s denial of this is alarming

Clinton is making headlines for her latest response to controversial remarks about the scandal: that her husband’s affair with Lewinsky was not an abuse of power because the former White House intern, who was 22 years old at the time, “was an adult.”

She made the remarks earlier this month on CBS, when asked, in retrospect, if Bill should have resigned in the wake of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. “Absolutely not,” Clinton responded.

When pressed on whether she thought the scandal was an abuse of power on Bill’s end, Hillary was adamant: “No, no… she was an adult.”

In an interview this weekend, Clinton repeatedly dodged questions on her comments, saying she doesn’t want to “relitigate everything [she’s] said for 20 years.”

Clinton’s relationship with Lewinsky was consensual but nonetheless a clear abuse of professional and sexual power – yet Hillary Clinton’s denial of this is alarming. And with #MeToo making waves as a movement, Hillary’s statements are, at best, dated.

Clinton stressed that her husband’s scandal was a “really painful difficult time in my life,” – that everyone is agreed on – and that she “[feels] very sorry for what [Lewinsky] went through.”

“I understand how 20 years later, a lot of decisions are being reconsidered or being looked at again from different points of view… I believe strongly that this moment is especially critical for women’s voices about their experiences to be taken seriously … [but] I’m not going to relitigate everything I’ve said for 20 years.”

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