What We Can Learn from Monica Lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky zoomed to the world’s center stage in 1998, when it was revealed that she had a sexual dalliance with the President of the United States. Anyone would have crumbled under such scrutiny, and Lewinsky was no exception. In an article with Vanity Fair in May 2014, she finally opened up to describe what it was like in the days following the revelations of her affair with President Clinton. Lewinsky is now 40 years old, but she has a wisdom that goes well beyond her years — and why wouldn’t she? Only 21 at the time all of the sordid mess began, she was barely old enough to drink, much less make responsible decisions in the face of such power, influence and lust.

Source: Fox News

Source: Fox News

What can we learn from Monica Lewinsky today? Plenty, it turns out.

The first and foremost issue that struck me upon reading the Vanity Fair article was Lewinsky’s assertion that she was humiliated on a world-wide scale with the help of the internet. During those days, the internet was still in its infancy, but it allowed news to travel much faster than ever. Besides that, it allowed millions of citizens to chime in on things that they wanted to speak about — and allowed them to do it anonymously. As we all know, anonymity can bring out the worst in people, and that’s definitely what happened when the 21-year-old woman was bandied about for all the world to comment on.

But there is also the double standard that still exists today. Though she was certainly not the only guilty party — and, some would say, was certainly less at fault than her married lover — she was the one who wound up getting the short end of the stick. She might as well have worn a scarlet letter, or been tossed out of her own country, shunned by all those who had no problem with throwing the first stone. Now that the dust has settled, it has become clear where everyone in the situation stands. Clinton is revered in most circles, commands hundreds of thousands of dollars for speaking engagements, and is seen as a celebrity.

Lewinsky, on the other hand, can’t even find a job, despite her obvious smarts and master’s degree.

Besides that, he was her boss, and he clearly took advantage of his position of power to entice her, seduce her, and later, to throw her to the wolves. Where was the condemnation for that? When the most powerful man in the world can get away with it, is it any wonder that abuses by bosses continue to be widespread?

What we can learn from Lewinsky is this:

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone, no matter their age or their rank, can step out of line. But until the wrongdoers are treated equally, until a man is equally condemned and handed his own scarlet letter, women will continue to be the ones on the losing end. It is vitally important that we begin to treat issues with the gravity they deserve on both sides. When the other woman is condemned, make sure the man is too. When someone in a position of power uses that inappropriately, fire him or her — man or woman, clerk or secretary, boss or President of the United States. No one should be immune to paying the price.

As for the rest of us…let us be careful of what we say. Don’t attack and don’t judge. Don’t hide behind anonymous names to do harm to those who can’t defend themselves, or at the very least, can’t tell their own side of the story. Lewinsky was humiliated, yes — but those who should have been humiliated just as thoroughly include the President, those who went after all the sordid details, and those useless trolls who had something to say while hiding behind an anonymous name.

We all make mistakes. Let’s just be grateful that our mistakes aren’t held up for all the world to see.

 

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