Monica Lewinsky may very well have been treated differently had she waited twenty years to tell her #MeToo story. The affair that she had with then-President Bill Clinton was a scandal that rocked the nation and led to a federal investigation and impeachment of the president. Clinton was acquitted of perjury and basically walked away unscathed. But Lewinsky said that she suffered greatly and sees the relationship in a completely different context now.

Lewinsky told Vanity Fair all about it

The former White House intern penned an essay for Vanity Fair where she explored the balance of power between her and Clinton.

And in light of the present-day conversations about the role that power and the perception of it plays in cases of sexual harassment and sexual assault, Lewinsky wonders now if saying "no" was a real option for her.

While Lewinsky is inspired by women who have been brave enough to come forward and tell their #MeToo stories, she still doesn't know if or how she fits into today's movements. The narrative has stirred up a lot of memories of the events leading up to the 1998 federal hearings and she is seeing her experience in a different light.

Hurled into the spotlight

This May marks the 20-year anniversary of the federal probe conducted by prosecutor Ken Starr which thrust Lewinsky into the national and international spotlights.

According to her Vanity Fair article, she was subsequently branded a stalker, a home-wrecker, and an opportunist whose personal life was placed under a microscope and sold as tabloid fodder. Suffering that kind of public scrutiny at 24 years old overwhelmed Lewinsky. She had her friends and family to support her, but Clinton seemed to leave the young woman holding the bag.

The now 44-year-old woman ponders how consent is defined in a relationship with an older, more experienced man who just so happened to be the leader of the free world. According to Lewinsky, Clinton was at the "pinnacle of his career" while she was just getting started working her first job out of college as a White House intern.

She has many regrets and takes responsibility for her role in the affair, but did she ever have any real power?

What is consent?

Lewinsky has thought a lot about what it means to consent. An article in USA Today pointed out that Lewinsky took a different position in 2014 when she wrote in Vanity Fair that her relationship was consensual. But in her latest essay in the same publication, she considered a dictionary definition which described consent as giving permission. To her, that implies that she would have needed to have power and control. But did she?

Admittedly, Lewinsky wanted to be in an intimate relationship with Clinton. But he was her boss and sat in the most powerful seat on the planet.

Because Clinton was 27 years older than she was and had more life experience, he should have known better than to pursue a relationship with her.

The trauma continues

According to her Vanity Fair story, Monica Lewinsky suffers with post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the ordeal. In an interview with The Guardian, she talked about shame and how close she came to committing suicide. The effects of the scandal and scrutiny are far-reaching.

However, she is grateful that the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements provide a safe haven for women who face sexual harassment and sexual assault to stand up for themselves. She is constantly reminded of her strength over the years and the hope she had that justice would be served.

That time, she believes, is now.