A former Radcliffe College student claiming to have been John F. Kennedy's mistress before he became president is speaking about the alleged affair they had when she was 20 years old.
In a new retrospective piece published in Airmail News, Diana de Vegh recalled how the attraction led to flirting and eventually the affair. She was a junior at the women’s liberal arts college and Kennedy was on the campaign trail when they first met.
De Vegh recounted being taken by the then-Senator from Massachusetts and "vying for his attention, as soon as I saw him."
As things progressed, de Vegh noted how their "connection was tapping into a vein of possibility." She was "giddy" at the idea but her "movie-star-crush" left her unable to consider the situation objectively. Instead, she lived with the "happy inability to consider the facts"— that Kennedy was married and that she was being made inconspicuous at events in order to not draw attention. Only later did she see the truth, de Vegh explained.
"I didn’t realize then that I’d simply been netted, separated from the other students, who might have offered some emotional ballast in this situation."
De Vegh went on to write about the moment when things changed between herself and Kennedy, at his Boston apartment, and how their attraction reportedly became more.
"In this apartment, something different. He was leaning toward me, with such a sincere gaze," she recounted. "Yes, I knew how he felt about me. How could I doubt this moment of such profound connection? This was love, for sure. And … now, it was sex, for sure."
Looking back at the moment, de Vegh highlighted the topics of consent, choice, and abuse.
"Does it have to be abuse if an older man enchants a younger woman? What if this particular young woman longed to be enchanted? I was past the age of consent. Could it, should it, have occurred to him that at twice my age there might be a power differential?" she wrote.
"That at least chronologically he was a functioning adult and presumably capable of making a more thoughtful choice? That respect for his family, his religion, the honor of his position, might suggest a path of self-respect as opposed to the rut of self-indulgence? For a Great Man, he was still in the throes of the male mythology of his time: see pretty young woman, have pretty young woman."
De Vegh, who is now a psychotherapist in New York, wrote that it took her years to recover from her reported relationship with Kennedy, which ended abruptly, and even longer to break her silence.
"#MeToo has provided a specific context for needed re-evaluation," she continued. "Then there is the broader context of a world still obsessed with stargazing. Inequality and idealization as the component parts of celebrity glamour. The hovering promise: This, too, could be yours.”
Now de Vegh hopes that by telling her story she will help other young women.
"I listen to be of service, to help people see and understand themselves in all the ways I was once too frightened to do," she wrote.
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