Monica’s Story by Andrew Morton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Bookshelves: #MeToo, in-the-news, feminism, politics, memoir, non-fiction, women
I was a gazillion months pregnant when this story was breaking, miserable and desperate for my labor to just start already, if for no other reason than to get away from the endless news coverage of what was, to general knowledge at the time, nothing more than a blow job. I mean, come on. The baby who finally decided to arrive has now reached legal drinking age and with #MeToo, maybe I should start getting caught up on stuff.
I am a fan of Monica Lewinsky. Not for her enormous, awful, unforeseeably life-wrenching choices at the tender age of 22, but for her ownership of those choices and the grace with which she has handled the unprecedented amount of public shaming and scorn. Ken Starr should be ashamed of himself. Linda Tripp will go down in history as the worst friend of all time. I’m still not sure about the bona fides of Andrew Morton, but Monica’s tale, told from her own point of view fresh from the au·to-da-fé, is engaging. Her experience behind the scenes was horrific and that she survived it with spirit and class is inspiring.
I do have some issues with recent claims of abuse of power. Just because Bill Clinton, a flawed human being like the rest of us, was the President of the United States, is he expected to be responsible for other people’s choices in interpersonal relationships? Yes, he was a philanderer and a cheater and generally a scumbag when it comes to women. That’s not the point. I doubt there’s a woman on this planet who hasn’t fallen hard for the bad boy, the player, the boss, the wife beater, the good-for-nothing, the married guy. That it wasn’t a good choice doesn’t invalidate the fact that it was, by her own admission, her choice. Is he supposed to think she can’t possibly mean yes, because he’s the president? Those making a sexual move have an obligation to assume no means no, absolutely. At no time should anyone ever presume that no means yes. But at what point is anybody expected to assume that yes means no? Any time one person is “superior” to the other? Two people are seldom absolute equals, especially in our misogynistic society. If we use relative power as the only possible yardstick for consent, no one is ever going to get laid again.
My point is this: Women have the power and the right to say yes as well as no. Stop infantilizing Monica, and I’d like it if she stopped infantilizing herself as well. In her own (very excellent) 2015 TED talk she said it herself, that she fell in love with her boss. I still like you, Monica, and I’m sure you have as much right to talk about #MeToo as anyone else, but please, no bandwagoning.
And my other, tangential, point is: Stop criticizing Hillary for staying in her marriage. If there’s any woman reading this who has never stayed with a man when every other woman on the planet thought she should have kicked him to the curb, then I’ll eat my left suede boot. It’s Hillary’s life, Hillary’s marriage, Hillary’s decision, and Hillary’s business. People need to give it a rest.
Worth the read, even after all this time.
Now let’s lighten up with the Buzzcocks, because we’ve all fallen in love with someone we shouldn’t have. We’re human that way.