Today, the world’s most famous White House intern spoke out about cyber bullying, calling herself patient zero, the first person to endure world-wide cyber bullying. You can see excerpts of her speech on CNN.com. To me, the most compelling thing about her talk wasn’t the part about bullying. It was hearing the mature voice of a thirty-eight-year-old woman describing an imbalance of power in a sexual dynamic.
Any woman who dodged an rite-of-passage bullet in her youth and avoided falling under the spell of a wise, mentoring older man, won’t understand what I’m about to tell you. Monica Lewinsky had no ability to say no. The age, income and power disparity between the recent college graduate and the fifty-two-year old leader of the free world was just too unfair. I don’t believe that all is fair in love and war. And Miss. Lewinsky was treated unfairly. She didn’t stand a chance in the face of coercion by a man more than twice her age whom no one said no to. Even if she hadn’t clouded the advances by her boss with feelings of love, I doubt that she would have been about to say no in the face of the social pressure to say yes.
Here’s what goes through a 22-year-old’s mind when her boss singles her out as his prized sex toy:
• Will I lose this internship if I say no?
• Does he really love me?
• This is the most exciting thing to happen to me in my entire life!
• He loves my body so I must be lovable.
• He told me his marriage is over. Why would he lie to me?
Sadly, Monica learned that the number one lie that men tell women is “I love you” to obtain sex. And short of that, there are many other lies men use to manipulate. When peer men play the game with peer women and she gets a broken heart, we may be incensed. But when a professional manipulator pulls one over on a young woman, that’s called a crime.
Does Monica Lewisky hold any responsibility at all? Of course she does. But be careful about throwing a stone before you consider the emotional, social and political shackles he held her in. Her share of the blame sure doesn’t deserve more than a decade of cyber bullying. Glad you got through it Ms. Lewinsky.
Here’s a video every 22-year-old woman can use: