October 22, 2014
Once the most hated 22-year-old in America, Monica Lewinsky endured 16 years of scorn and disgust by many who see her as a goal getter that nearly destroyed the “happy home” built by Bill and Hillary Clinton. She became the untouchable to employers and a subject of humiliation and negative media attention. Her only sin was having a relationship with then President Bill Clinton.
Now in her 40s, Lewinsky has reinvented herself as an advocate for victims of cyber-bullying. Her new mission, to end cyber-bullying and help victims of the shameful game, survive the bad effects of social media attack. Perhaps, American media now agree that Lewinsky deserves a break after more than a decade of unwarranted media scrutiny.
It is an understatement to say Lewinsky does not feel a connection with those caught up in online scandals that forever changed their lives. For 16 years, the former White House intern was humiliated by the media and shamed by the public for falling in love with her boss, who happened to be the President of the United States.
Since the scandal that nearly destroyed Lewinsky’s life, President Clinton continues to have a successful outcome. His wife Hillary ran for President and became U.S. Secretary of State in the Obama administration, while Chelsea their daughter landed a job with NBC and still eyeing a future role with the Clinton Global Initiative.
The story is far from being the case for Lewinsky, who jumped from job to job as a result of her tarnished reputation and the public’ misunderstanding of her position as a victim in a society, where men maintain dominance, while women are relegated as sexual objects. Her haters believe she seduced the President and therefore, must bear the blames, while the man responsible for her downfall, remain a highly regarded authority.
Just like other victims of sexual violence by men who become objects of ridicule via the social media, Lewinsky is a victim of a patriarchal system that sexualizes and objectifies women in ways unimaginable. A world where men treat women’s body as property they own and must use, as they desire without questions asked.
In colleges nationwide women are victims of rape and sexual violence perpetrated by men. Many have had their nude photos unknowingly taken and posted on the Internet by men they trust, while some had to deal with social embarrassment and are labeled as whores, when they should be considered victims of a system that blames women for dressing in certain ways that “attracts men,” but glorifies the perpetrator of sexual violence.
It is indisputable the entrenched power imbalances along lines like gender, race and class allow rape to be accepted when perpetrated by men. Many rape incidents go unreported out of fear doing so, might cause public outrage and lead to serious consequences for the establishment. There are colleges where rapist athletes usually men, go scot-free and see no day in court because the college values its reputation than the agony suffered by the victim who is usually a woman.
In the face of this violence, the society demand that the victims usually women, sacrifice their freedom and adjust their behavior so the perpetrator of rape can be satisfied. The power structure and inequality that rates men higher than women, help further sexual violence and makes it impossible to combat sexual dominance of the most vulnerable in the society.
Ironically, there are women who blame Lewinsky for going out with the President. Perhaps, they do so out of jealousy but what such people forget is that she was a vulnerable 22-year-old courted by the most powerful leader in the world. The question, what would you do if you were a 22-year-old asked for a date by the President? If your answer is abrupt rejection then, kudos but the fact is, many would go along out of fear of the unknown about what the outcome could be.
The fact that Lewinsky was not a victim of rape does not make her less of a victim. She is a victim of bullying because for 16 years, her image got tarnished via the Internet and the news media for doing what every woman susceptible to abuse would do. She got caught up in a world where men retain absolute power and make women sexual slaves to be used and discarded as the objects of mockery.
The Lewinsky scandal is part of American history that will remain for decades. However, the history can be shaped only when the society begins to abandon the culture of blaming the victim. The idea that sexual power is intrinsic to men’s nature is misguided and has no place in a civilized environment.
Sexual freedom can only be achieved with mutual agreement between a man and a woman to engage in the act of sex, but in a society where women take the blames for men’s mistakes, the circle of institutionalized sexual discrimination is far from over.
Adeyemi Oshunrinade [E. JD] is the author of ‘Wills Law and Contests,’ ‘Constitutional Law-First Amendment,’ ‘Criminal Law-Homicide’ and ‘SAVING LOVE’ available at http://www.amazon.com/author/adeyemioshunrinade. Follow on Twitter @san0670.