March 23, 2015
In a TED talk on the "price of shame," Monica Lewinsky called for a renewed culture of empathy and compassion. Christians might add grace.
I agree with the conclusions in this article that our culture is too quick to shame, it goes far fast, and the note about scapegoating is also informative. These do not build Christian community.
However, the way the article is framed completely ignores the reality of the situation. The situation was not primarily about a mistake that Monica made. This was a sexual relationship that never should happen. Consent in a sexual relationship implies an equality that was not present in this relationship. Consent is not meaningful in situations when one party has much more power and authority than the other. That's why an adult doesn't have consensual sex with a child; that's child abuse. Nor does a teacher have consensual sex with a student, nor a doctor with one of his or her patients, nor a president with a student intern. And the same is true of a pastor with a member of the congregation. When those boundaries are crossed, it's sexual abuse.
Lewinsky wasn't attempting to address sexual abuse in her talk, so this article responds not to that issue but to Lweinsky's purpose: to illuminate the effects of scapegoating and public shaming. She was only one side of an inappropriate sexual affair, yet she experienced the life altering humiliation. Lweinsky seems less interested in confronting the abuse she experienced in the workplace than (over which she is completely powerless) in confronting and highlighting the much more widely reaching menace of abuse in social and other media. She wants to encourage us to think about the people whom are injured by the shaming. She wants us to see her, the grow. Up woman whom we vilified in the media. Once the firestorm died down, she had to live with the debris.
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