NOW Monica Lewinsky Says She Was Abused And Sexually Harassed

 

I called it!

Remember in December when I had this exchange on NPR during a panel about sexual harassment and political figures in the early states of #MeToo?

ME : A hostile work environment means that the recipient of this has to feel hostility. They don’t like it. So, for example, if somebody – I have a hypothetical that I’m sure has happened, where someone is grabbed by Donald Trump back when he’s a celebrity, and she comes home. And she’s kissed, and she tells her roommate, “That was cool! Donald Trump kissed me.” And then when everybody she knows detests Donald Trump, she suddenly says …”I was harassed.”

BUTLER: COME ON!

HOST MICHEL MARTIN: OK. Yeah, I think we’re going to go to a different…All right. All right, Jack, you’ve had your say on that. And I think there are a lot of people who would want to argue with – I’m going to let Paul speak his piece on this. What do you say to that?

But the professor didn’t go beyond his interjected cheap shot, and went on to his own agenda, leaving the impression that my exposition on the strangeness of sexual harassment law was off-the-wall. It wasn’t, though. I was 100% correct, and NPR listeners, thanks to a grandstanding law professor whom I suspect wasn’t up on sexual harassment (he’s a criminal law professor who concentrates on race issues), were left less-informed than when they tuned in.

My point was and is valid: nothing stops an object of sexual attention in questionable propriety and taste from treating it as welcome at the time, then choosing, months, years or decades later, when there are non-ethical motivations to vilify or harm her one-time suitor, to withdraw her consent and “welcome,” and claim, retroactively, that she was harassed and abused.

This is exactly what Monica Lewinsky has done.

From the moment the scandal broke, Lewinsky  insisted that her relationship with President Bill Clinton was fully consensual and welcome despite the disparity in their position and age. This assisted the defense of the President’s unethical conduct “To Lewinsky’s credit, she never portrayed herself as any kind of victim of Clinton’s advances,” Jeffrey Toobin wrote in his 2000 book, “A Vast Conspiracy: The Real Story of the Sex Scandal That Nearly Brought Down a President.” Later, in a much-ballyhooed  piece for Vanity Fair in 2014, Lewinsky again asserted that she felt abused by special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, but not by sexy Bill. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: It was a consensual relationship.”

Suddenly, however, Monica woke up “woke.”  In a new Vanity Fair essay, she writes, “Now, at 44, I’m beginning . . . to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a President and a White House intern…in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be rendered moot.” She now believes the affair was “a gross abuse of power,” and is claiming her “#MeToo badge as a victim.

Had I chosen Bill Clinton as my example rather than Donald Trump—I admit, on NPR I was reluctant to be that provocative—this would have been my hypothetical come true.

Legally, Lewinsky was not sexually harassed, and no, she cannot fairly turn it into sexual harassment now to get another 15 minutes of fame. However Clinton had such power over her as her employer and President—the hypothetical I raised on NPR did not involve the workplace—that it was not a consensual relationship, and Clinton did engage in an abusive relationship based on his misuse of power and position.

Convenient retroactive decisions that what once were welcome sexual advances are welcome no longer after a decade or two has marked the #MeToo witch hunt from the start, with Al Franken being the most obvious victim. It’s no surprise that Monica Lewinsky figured out which way the metaphorical wind was blowing.

_______________________

Pointer and Facts: New York Daily News

25 Comments

Filed under Ethics Train Wrecks, Gender and Sex, Government & Politics, Journalism & Media, Law & Law Enforcement

25 responses to “NOW Monica Lewinsky Says She Was Abused And Sexually Harassed

  1. Son of Maimonides

    I agree, completely. I’m curious. however, this situation is different:
    https://ethicsalarms.com/2014/10/21/ethics-quiz-a-sexual-assault-by-the-president/

    The woman clearly didn’t feel harassed at the time, they weren’t coworkers, and aside from being “the leader of the free world” she was under no obligation of acquiesce to his request.

    • Ooooh! Good catch! “aside from being “the leader of the free world” she was under no obligation of acquiesce to his request”= “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how di you like the play?” If the womam felt it was unwelcome, this would be per se harassment. In any event, it is abuse of power and third party harassment.

      • Son of Maimonides

        “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how di you like the play?”

        Point taken, but that’s a little unfair. “Leader of the Free World” is a title and, as the disrespect of our current Commander-in-Chief demonstrates, there’s little harm for the average private citizen to snub or even tell-off the President — especially when it comes to physical touch.

        “In any event, it is abuse of power and third party harassment.”

        Abuse of power seems like a stretch, but okay. Even so, I still don’t see how it can be called “harassment” based on the above criteria. She clearly delighted in the experience and her boyfriend likewise. If she were to write a tell-all book in she described how “icky it felt to have his paws all over me while he verbally abused my partner” would that be any more or less unethical than Ms. Lewisnky?

      • JP

        “When you’re famous you can grab them by the …”

    • Chris

      Somehow I totally missed that story.

      I don’t think Obama’s request was appropriate…but it also was not remotely sexual. It was a light kiss on the cheek. Look at the body language. It’s done in the most friendly, platonic manner imaginable. I really think that needs to be taken into consideration when determining whether something is or isn’t sexual harassment. If I tell a female colleague “You’re looking good” in a friendly, casual tone of voice, it is not sexual harassment. If I tell her the same thing while leering at her and using a Joey Tribbiani voice, that can be sexual harassment. While a kiss of any kind would not be appropriate, I still think it would be an absurd reach to describe this particular kiss as “sexual” anything.

  2. Steve-O-in-NJ

    Swallow the leader…

  3. Too harsh on Lewinsky. She has not filed a lawsuit so the issue of whether or not it was a “hostile working environment” is irrelevant. And she has not changed her factual story.

    As you acknowledge, she was the victim of a massive abuse of power. Kudos to her for saying it. She came from a fiercely Democrat-partisan family and community who revered Clinton (that is why she worked at the White House). She no doubt said “yes” at the time as most 20-year old interns in her shoes would have if “asked” by the most powerful man on the Planet.

    So she finally expressed outrage towards Bill when the Clintons’ power is waning, and/or her statement is more palatable to the news media. She would have been a profile in courage had she said these things earlier. But she is speaking truth and there is no reason to assume she is motivated by “another fifteen minutes of fame.” I rather think she has had enough of that.

  4. Carcarwhite

    I’m horrified at many of my gender who are crying for equal rights and then act like little whiny babies.

    We want equality but we can’t pay 15 a month for our own birth control. We want equal this and equal that then we use (some of us) the flavor of the week to plead our victim case. Hurting our fellow citizens male and female because of this.

    I was kissed by Eddie Van Halen back stage in the 80’s on the lips, a few times. He was tipsy and happy and took a selfie of us before seflies were selfies and I’ve actually had friends on the left tell my I should my story lol. And I was ENABLING THIS BEHAVIOR by not going forward! Lol.

    I was giddy, a fan, and I’m not going to embarrass myself or other women by jumping on this RIDICULOUS bandwagon.

    I have hung out with enough famous ppl to know not only to women like getting the attention but I’ve seem them throw them selves at powerful men in every place the are. From pastors to actors, women want attention from successful men (sometimes) and to deny this is lying.

    Yes, our interpretation often is dependent on the man doing the advances or even giving a complement. If we like him, “yay” if not… look out… we now sadly have a movement capable of ruining perfectly normal people with no ill intent.

    It really is embarrassing. And it’s wrong.

    • What you say there should be a Comment Of The Day, in my opinion.

      • luckyesteeyoreman

        And not just because you also obviously appreciate(d?) Van Halen.

        • Carcarwhite

          I have a photo lol. Was such a great experience. He let me watch him practice too and was very fun and kind.

          Of course since he kissed me on the lips 4 times uninvited… means he’s not really anything but a predator and my life is forever ruined! I just didn’t know til the #metoo movement enlightened me.

          • luckyesteeyoreman

            You’ve got a GOLD MINE in that “victimhood” of yours! [wink]
            Couldn’t resist – I just like the song, even if the video is mostly (in my opinion) goofy, and it’s mostly keyboarding (which is done well!), and not the hottest VH guitar-ing (but that is done plenty well, too)…

            RIGHT NOW is EVERYTHING! [wink]

            • luckyesteeyoreman

              My music tastes are eclectic – especially when dancing is involved!
              How I wish I could do 1/1000, even 1/1,000,000, of these moves!

            • Carcarwhite

              The sad thing is…. many of my now left male friends on this bandwagon forgot how they acted towards their groupies…. and could EASILY be taken down. If I or others were to cry “abuse” at some of the things they did/said.

              Maybe inappropriate… sure. I was too naieve to even get I was being “harassed” (by today’s definition. )

              And now… I think it’s part of men being men… and just not a big deal. Girls have their fair share of saying stuff to guys which if we want equal rights… we should be ashamed of ourselves.

              Instead we’re applauded for what we’d call men pigs and predators for doing.

              Ugh. I like being a woman and my dad always told me I could do anything I wanted. Men have been great in giving me opportunities and not sure why… maybe because I never felt in competition and it was for the mutual love of the craft. (Usually music)

              Anyway… I feel bad for white males atm. It’s like open season.

              Hang in there and know thee are some women who see the madness and will and do stand up for you all. (Men of any color)

              We’re all in thus together and need each other.

    • OH COME ON!

      (Kidding)

      Comment of the Day, and a brave one, unfortunately.

  5. Do you have a link to that bit? I couldn’t seem to find it.

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