— Trigger and Content Warning —
Like with the “Friendship Breakup” series, over the next few weeks, I’ll be answering commonly asked questions surrounding, specifically, Dr Ford and the entire fiasco that we just watched.
As this topic is of a sensitive nature, and many of you may have questions or stories you’d like to share or have answered, please feel free to drop a message in my Facebook inbox or DM me on my Instagram, @thingscarlaloves. You do not have to share your story in the comment section (or anywhere else) if you do not feel comfortable.
As always, there will be a list of helpline services added, if you need help. I strongly urge that you confide in someone you trust in order to help you heal.
I will explain further, but straight off the bat: Hillary Clinton is fucking wrong. Yes, Bill Clinton abused his power and whether or not Monica Lewinsky consented is irrelevant because Bill Clinton was the President of the United States and Monica Lewinsky was a twenty-two-year-old intern.
That meant that Monica Lewinsky could never truly to consent.
Allow me to explain in a way that doesn’t involve rich people, famous people, or celebrities.
I’ve been a teacher for seven years.
When I first started teaching, I was still twenty-one. I didn’t turn twenty-two until the last day of my first year of teaching.
This is a picture of me at an event at the school I was teaching at in my first year:
As you can see, I clearly look young. In fact, on a school excursion, one of the instructors mistook me for a student.
And a large portion of the students I taught were eighteen.
That’s not an awful lot an age difference, especially since (in Australia), I could bump into students in literal bars (drinking age is eighteen) and I wouldn’t necessarily know. Not as a dodgy defence, but sometimes people look older, and sometimes people look younger.
I taught my students. I was privy to some of their deepest, darkest secrets and desires. I mentored them. I gave them feedback and helped them with their work. I listened if they needed someone to turn to. I was a shoulder to cry on, a person designed to protect them, and comfort them.
And if you think an eighteen-year-old doesn’t need that, you’re mistaken. They do, so before anyone makes any bad rape jokes, fuck off please.
With certain students, we have to know certain information. (For example, life-threatening allergies is a good one.)
That means that there’s the potential that I don’t just know what a student’s told me, but I also have access to their private information. As a teacher, if a student is going through something at home, I am not privy to that information (just in case some of you are wondering). We’re simply told that there are extenuating circumstances and to be mindful, and then there’s a referred point of contact with someone (counsellor, or someone in leadership) who is aware of the situation that we can direct the student to if needed.
However, that being said, if I really wanted to, think about the information I could get.
Think of the information I could obtain teaching, talking to students, to classmates, to family.
Then imagine I use all that information I’ve collected to manipulate you. Maybe I’m delusional and I’ve convinced myself I really love this person, so it’s somehow okay (it’s not), but I want them to see me as something else.
And, as the result of my position of power, the person could never really truly consent because I’m also the teacher.
Think of all the teachers who do do the things above – and worse – with their students.
It clearly happens often.
And often, especially with older students, they often think or believe that they are in love – but later feel betrayed, lied and manipulated because they have been.
After imaging all of that and knowing that teachers and students still have relationships (and this uncomfortable trope is often portrayed romantically, like in Pretty Little Liars), do you honestly believe that Bill Clinton had no form of power over Monica Lewinsky?
Bill Clinton, President and Charismatic Leader?
You really think I know more about my students than Clinton did before hiring Monica?
Can you imagine what it would be like to work for someone you idolised? Dream job type deal, with dream job type boss?
And then that boss, one of the richest and most influential men in the entire world, takes an interest in you?
At twenty-two, when most of us are still going through our awkward phase?
Above: Me, at twenty-two. This photo was taken over a short teaching break by a close friend.
I don’t know what Monica Lewinsky felt then, although I do know how she feels (particularly about the press) now (well, to some degree).
But I don’t need to know to imagine.
I know what I was like at twenty-two: A hopeless romantic, silly, fun, goofy.
Below: Standard teaching outfit, typical of something I’d wear.
I dreamed of meeting someone amazing and strong and smart and funny and passionate and completely and totally head-over-heels in love with me.
And I do know that I, at times, got uncomfortable attention from people in more senior positions than I was.
In particular, in my first and second years of teaching, I had a particularly forceful boss. In some ways, fortunately for me, he had a girlfriend and I was able to deflect a lot of his attention back to her without flat-out rejecting my boss (I’m leaving it at ‘boss’ because there’s so many leaders in teaching it makes it very difficult for anyone to know who I’m referencing).
His attention made me feel claustrophobic, and at times frightened. Some of the people I’d worked with had noticed, and whether they were aware because it’d happened to them or whether they assumed it was just a few flirty hallway meetings (not flirty on my part), instead of realising it was consistent harassment because he had my mobile number.
He was popular. Incredibly well-liked – by both colleagues and other leaders.
And I was a first year, on a contract, and not well-liked.
The pressure I felt was incredibly enormous. Everyone seemed dismissive of what they were aware of, and I didn’t want to rock the boat and risk losing my job.
I didn’t know if people would believe me if I said that I was struggling to straight-out reject him (my responses were always something along the lines of, ‘Oh, that’s so nice of you to say, but you have a girlfriend and I don’t feel comfortable with you talking to me this way’) because I was afraid because everyone liked him.
He was great. And perfect. And his girlfriend was so, so, so lucky.
Monica was only a year older than me when she met the President.
Now try telling me with a straight face that there isn’t a serious misuse of power there.
In Emergencies: 000
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
MensLine Australia: 1300 78 99 78
— Sources —
Bachelor of Education: English and History
Diploma in Criminology and Profiling
Diploma in Forensic Science
Background in law and psychology
Teacher 7+ years
Background in special needs, learning support – other specific teaching fields that required hands-on development.
NB: This is a declaration of the background of my personal knowledge, collected over the years via a professional form of education and development. Some of these take the form of actual degrees and others come in the form of necessary professional development. When doing your own, you should always try and verify the person’s credibility. My credibility, nor anyone else’s, is not with their education. Everyone has biases and no one is infallible. I am deliberately including some of my background education to highlight this, because you should be questioning information you are receiving.