Ms. Hirshman starts her book in the 1970’s, when women began to talk to each other and organize against men who took advantage of their female subordinates. She then moves forward in time highlighting a number of accusations of rape and/or sexual harassment against prominent men and the women who were brave enough to go public with the accusations. The list includes the 1991 Clarence Thomas Hearings and the accusations by Anita Hill, the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton Scandal, and the multiple women claimed that Harvey Weinstein took advantage of them sexually.
Reckoning is a perfect title for this book. While telling the story of these brave and bold women, Ms. Hirshman inspires the reader to stand up for those who cannot stand up for themselves. She also pulls no punches, calling out politicians on both sides of the aisle, women who stay silent and men who continue to perpetuate this heinous act.
I believe that we have to take the following into consideration when passing judgement on President Clinton:
He was not the first and will not be the last public official who is caught having an extramarital affair.
An older male manager taking sexual advantage of a younger female employee is nothing new. Working women throughout history have dealt with this problem for an untold number of generations.
We didn’t have the language or the perspective in 1998 that we have today. The #Metoo movement has shined a necessarily uncomfortable spotlight on the issue of sexual harassment and assault, especially in the workplace.
Unlike other men accused of a similar crime (especially you know who), President Clinton appears from my perspective to be genuinely contrite about his actions.
However, his apologies cannot and will not absolve him of his actions. While his reputation has recovered, the reputations of the women linked to the scandal will forever be tainted. Monica Lewinsky will never lead a normal life. Hillary Clinton perhaps could have perhaps won the 2016 Presidential election, if not for her husband’s past misdeeds.
I don’t know if I will ever completely forgive President Clinton. But at the same time, I appreciate the apology and his support for the #Metoo movement. If there is any silver lining in this story, it is that the #Metoo movement is not going away. It is only getting stronger and will continue to grow until women are treated equal to men.