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In Vanity Fair essay, Monica Lewinsky has a #MeToo reckoning

The Boston Globe logo The Boston Globe 2/26/2018 By Dylan McGuinness

Monica Lewinsky attended the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France, in 2015. © Lionel Cironneau/Associated Press/File Monica Lewinsky attended the Cannes Lions International Advertising Festival in Cannes, France, in 2015. Twenty years after her life became embroiled in President Bill Clinton’s impeachment hearings, Monica Lewinsky has penned an essay in Vanity Fair about her experiences grappling with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, how the #MeToo movement has changed her view of what happened in 1998, and a recent chance encounter with Ken Starr.

Lewinsky revealed in the essay, which was published online Sunday evening, that she ran into Starr, the special prosecutor who led the investigation into her and Clinton’s relationship, while dining with her family at a Manhattan restaurant this past Christmas Eve. The pair had never previously met, she said.

“How do I know him? Where have I seen him?” Lewinsky recalled thinking when she first saw the former prosecutor. Two decades of therapy gave her the courage, she wrote, to approach him instead of fleeing the restaurant.

“I found myself shaking his hand even as I struggled to decipher the warmth he evinced,” Lewinsky wrote, adding that Starr touched her arm and elbow several times, making her uncomfortable. She eventually said to him: “Though I wish I had made different choices back then. . . I wish that you and your office had made different choices, too.”

She was paving the way for an apology, she wrote. He said instead, “I know. It was unfortunate.”

The essay also offers Lewinsky’s efforts to reexamine the events of 1998 in light of the #MeToo movement.

Lewinsky compares the scandal to a collective trauma for the broader country: “Until recently (thank you, Harvey Weinstein), historians hadn’t really had the perspective to fully process and acknowledge that year of shame and spectacle,” she wrote.

While she has maintained her relationship with Clinton was consensual, Lewinsky wrote the movement has forced her to reexamine the power dynamics at play between a president and an intern: “I’m beginning to entertain the notion that in such a circumstance the idea of consent might well be considered moot.”

Lewinksy also said she was brought to tears after reading a message from a woman involved in the #MeToo movement, whose identity she did not reveal, that said, “I’m so sorry you were so alone.”

“I don’t believe I would have felt so isolated had it all happened today,” Lewinsky wrote. “Virtually anyone can share her or his #MeToo story and be instantly welcomed into a tribe.”

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