The Monica Interview

The following is Verity's response to various deprecating comments that were made about Monica Lewinsky after her television interview with Barbara Walters. It was suggested that Monica's behaviour with President Clinton was comparable to that of prostitution. It was suggested by some that she should not be spared any sympathy. It was suggested that she wasn't apologetic enough to Chelsea and Hillary Clinton for what they had suffered. She was spared little mercy in comparison to the relatively forgiving feedback received in earlier threads about Bill Clinton's behaviour.

Okay, so I haven't seen the interview, but I have an opinion that I haven't seen voiced yet in all the months that this whole thing has been discussed here.

I'll say at the outset that I don't expect the men in the room to agree with me on this one... and I apologise if that sounds sexist, but my premise for that thought is that men can never really understand what it is like to be a young woman in today's world - a man's world.

I'd also like to preface the following comments by stating that anything I mention is not intended to sound anti male, more really intending to describe the female experience.

Picture this scene:

Young girl starts a job in a big firm. As part of her job she has to interact with the CEO on a regular basis. There is an amazing energy about this man. He's dynamic. He's exciting. He's experienced. He's mature. Somehow the people around him just do what he says when he says it. Some of them are afraid of him. Most of them respect him. Some of them really look up to him.

The girl in this story feels much of the above - she respects him, looks up to him, probably fears him, even finds him overwhelming. There is something about him that draws her to him, maybe something in his personality that she would like to see in herself. (After all, isn't that usually why we find a person attractive, be it either a physical or a mental thing?)

She wants to get closer to whatever it is that draws her to him. She wants to be a part of, to share that special something he has. She wants to spend more time with that part of him that is most attractive to her.

Okay, you can get your minds out of the gutter now. :-)

She wants him to notice her, to send some of his boundless energy in her direction. Because it is his use of energy that she is drawn to - when she is around him she feels energised and she can see that everyone else - both male and female - get the same buzz from being in the presence of this man. She wants more of that. She doesn't know why. She's not even aware really that this is her motivation. She just knows that he has something of which she needs more.

Note: The same situation could be gender-reversed; I have simply used this particular set up because in most cases, men are the ones in the position of power.

So anyway, this girl flirts with the Big Boss Man in an attempt to catch his attention and in the hope that she will then gain more opportunities to be around him. Over time this works fine for her - she is getting what she wanted just in the knowledge that he has noticed her existence... but after a time she wants more - and not much later, she finds herself physically drawn to him.

A young girl in current society is taught a lot of conflicting messages. She is taught that she has to catch herself a good man. She's also taught that she has to find herself a good career. She's also taught that once she has a good man she has to have babies and be a good mother. She's also taught that she should maintain her career. She's also taught that to get a good man she needs to show him that she has brains and is independent. She's also taught that men want sex first and foremost and if she wants a man she must expect that he will need to be "serviced". She's also taught to not give in to the wiles of men. She's also taught that she must give in to the desires of men if she is to achieve all she has been taught that she must achieve to have a successful life. She's also taught that men are necessary for her to achieve her life's targets.

She's also taught - even if only in subtle ways - that to get what she wants in life, she must flirt and be sexual. She must smile a white smile. She must wear short skirts to show off her legs. She should show a little cleavage - but not too much, or be called a slut! But if it's not enough, she's not going to succeed. She must however, at all times throughout this flirtatious trip through adulthood, remain demure and fresh.

In short, she must be seen at all times to be innocent, professional, subtle, sensual, clever, witty, sexual, physically proportioned, naive, experienced, intelligent, courageous, autonomous, playful, free, subdued, subordinate, demure, caring, tough... the list of conflicts here is endless. To pull it off must be quite an art, and require much experience, skill and ...well, to be honest, I'm not sure that I've ever met a women who fits the bill here.

I believe that this conflicting training we receive makes it extremely difficult for younger, inexperienced women to survive unscathed in a world where they are regularly exposed to men in powerful roles. I cannot say if it is the same for younger men with powerful women in leadership roles - but only because I am not (and have never been! :-) ) a young man, so I don't wish to try to speak on their behalf.

Did I say that she is taught that she must get a man? Just in case I didn't drive that home enough - she is told that she must get a man. Ultimately this is the goal - she is nothing if she doesn't find herself a man. She is told that she must work at it. She shouldn't just assume a man is going to want the likes of her. She must prove that she is worthy. So she paints her fingernails and lips. She wears eye make up to enhance those features. She spreads moisturisers over her skin in an attempt to maintain her youthful elasticity. She wears bras to hide the ever-creeping sag in her bust. She dons the soft, luxurious blouses and skirts that emphasise her hips and waist. She goes to a lot of trouble to catch her a man - because she is taught that this is pretty much her primary purpose.

Women are trained to believe that their value is measured in the type of man that they are able to attract - or inevitably in their ability to attract one at all. They are trained to believe that unless a man wants them, they are worthless. They are trained to believe that while all that career stuff is important, the ultimate goal is to get a man. It is possible to overcome this training, but it usually takes many years of hard work, experience and heart ache.

So, to summarise:

Any person in a position of power naturally has a propensity to attract people of the opposite gender.

If that person also happens to be willing to take what appears to be sitting on a silver platter awaiting them, then they are, without a doubt - a predator.

While Monica went into the situation with her eyes open and flirted etc, she was so very young and inexperienced, she didn't stand a chance in the company of a such a dynamic man as Bill Clinton. This is not say that she is helpless because she is a woman, but that she was defenseless because of lack of experience and awareness.

I know for sure if I had been placed in her situation when I was her age, I probably would have slept with him as well. I also probably would have told a couple of my close friends, who probably really couldn't have been trusted with a secret even if they'd been paid to, although I don't expect that they would have used the secret to hurt me. I would have felt guilty about it, but I probably would have slept with him anyway.

I wouldn't do it now, but I would have done it when I was that age. The need to be accepted, and the incredible excitement and flattery that would go with being desired by such an important man would have seduced me very quickly and probably very easily.

It's not to say that it would have been a wise choice, but I challenge you to say that you could never have been swept off your feet at such a young age.

I believe that in such a situation, the man in power is a predator, taking advantage of the innocence of the younger woman, preying on her desire to be accepted because it makes him feel better about himself if he knows he is wanted. The big difference here is that he can "feel better about himself" by choosing to be flattered by her flirtatious behaviour. This behaviour in and of itself is proof of her desires. He doesn't need to have sex with her to prove the point further. And to do such a thing, from a position of power, is nothing short of predatorial and exploitative. This is true no matter whether the "Boss" is a man or a woman.

One more thing:

The other question that keeps coming back into my head is - why should Monica feel responsible for the shit that Bill pulled on his family? He is the one that made the vows to them, not Monica. Okay, we would hope that she would feel some guilt and remorse about the outcomes of the situation, but why should she be dragged into their family problems?

Why should Monica apologise to Chelsea? Since when was it her job to be responsible for Chelsea's welfare and happiness? When did she sign up for that?

It pays to remember that Bill's relationship with Monica was, after all, probably simply a symptom of a dysfunctional family situation. I am amazed at the lack of forgiveness shown towards Ms Lewinsky as opposed to the prevailing forgiveness expressed towards Good Ole Bill (who was, after all, the one who had actually made vows and signed on the dotted line) in previous threads.

Is she more guilty because she's the "other woman"? If so, wby?

I suppose the main thing I am trying to say is - let's try to be a little more open minded and a little less judgemental, because none of us can ever know the full circumstances of a person's situation, so we really have noright to judge their actions.

© copyright, 1999, Verity Warn
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