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If you've been to Timbuktu or thereabouts for the greater part of the last year, perhaps you managed to miss the headline-inducing fling of Mr. Prez and little Miss Monica. But if you've been in the vicinity of an outlet of the American press it would be virtually impossible to have missed the mind-numbing blitz of opinions and details of the sexual happening.
Tell me more, tell me more, coo assorted pundits breathlessly, in their Pink Lady Jackets. How does the media feel about the whole jolly she-bang? Repeated endlessly, these questions have become painfully boring, but it is easy to be horrified by some of the press's efforts for sensationalism. One angle particularly off the mark is the moralistic retelling of young intern cast as naive victim and lead astray into sin by bad older man.
Being on a campus of not quite 3,200 lovely ladies who approximate the Miss Lewinsky profile--for better or for worse, probably for worse--we are in a privileged position to gues about her perspective. So what's the average sensibility of a smart gal, an ambitious teen or twenty-something? I'm not arguing Monica hasn't been a victim, perhaps of the media, of Kenneth Starr, of Linda Tripp, but of Bill?
Let's start off with a quick quiz on the value of the pretty girl in today's culture. An eye-pleasing face and nice set of curves sell anything from electronic equipment to chocolate bars and everything in between. In a consumer-driven world, a decent looking dame is the hottest commodity of them all. You can't avoid knowing the value and power of young femininity, even if it is your very own young femininity. Did Monica recognize this?
How many of us have occasionally tried the time honored flutter of the eyelashes and perhaps a tear or two when waved over by a cop for running a stop sign? Maybe you've played damsel in distress when faced with a flat tire or a particularly heavy suitcase that had to be lugged aways. Nothing drastic, no sleeping one's way to the top, just occasionally shedding mantle of "liberated woman" in order to make the day run a little smoother--strictly minor offenses. Was our ill-fated Monica aware of such powers? I guess yes. Is it naive to presume she was taken advantage of? I guess yes again.
Some might pipe up horrified and say that regardless of Monica's savviness or own skills at manipulation, our bumbling president clearly was in the power position and hence had an advantage and the opportunity to use Miss Intern. There is no denying Clinton has power. Hey, he's the leader of the free world, right? But often in such liaisons there is a perceived misbalance of power.
Power tends to play a large role in determining attractions. Hey, even Kissinger pointed out that power is the greatest aphrodisiac. To a sixteen year-old, captain of the football team may represent pure power. That doesn't mean she can't giggle coyly and use womanly wiles to wrap him around her little finger. Is Monica guilty of such giggles? Maybe, though perhaps in this case giggles have translated into rapt interest into how the country is run. Regardless, power plays a role, and unequal allotments of traditional power don't always imply wrongdoings.
I don't want to suggest that Woman is always the perpetrator of sin, with a wiggle and a bounce. That would be equally naive and a down-right dangerous assertion. But each case is different, and when two consenting people break their commandment of choice, it is insulting to women to label Monica a victim. Just because she is young, female and virtually a secretary doesn't mean she was taken advantage of. She knew what was up--what she wanted and how to get it--as do a fair share of young women. No need to like Miss Lewinsky, or even respect her particularly, but let's not collectively go off the deep end and call her a victim.
Indeed, in the current spirit of confession box speeches, she may as well do some confessing and repentance. "I was silly. I wanted to see if I could get the President. Immature, power trip, ego boost. I have sinned and I apologize to the nation, to Mr. President and his family, and to my mother for making her keep my dirty dress." Next in line is Kenny Starr and then all pollsters and pundits, waiting to purge their souls.
Sarah Jacoby '99 is a history of science concentrator in Mather House.
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