Monica Lewinsky has ended a decade of silence on her affair with former President Bill Clinton. She speaks about the humiliation she experienced and how it pushed her to the brink of suicide, and reveals why she is opening up now in an essay in Vanity Fair.
The now 40-year-old former White House intern has spent her adult life in the public eye for reasons she would not have chosen. In case anyone wonders, she makes it clear in her Vanity Fair essay that her fame has not helped her. Even armed with a master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics, she was not able to land a job in her chosen field of communications and branding “because of what potential employers so tactfully referred to as my ‘history.’”
But Monica Lewinsky begins expressing her remorse, saying, “It’s time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress.” She goes on to say, “I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened.”
For those who have forgotten — or were too young at the time to know of the scandal of Presidential proportions — she summarizes, saying, “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position. . . . The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me. And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”
Yet the sudden essay in Vanity Fair after nearly ten years it begs the question, why now? Cynics might think the timing is suspicious; after all, the 2016 Presidential election is not so far away and there is a generation that doesn’t remember Bill Clinton as the impeached president and sees him only hanging out with celebrities and shepherding his Clinton Global Initiative. Some shadowy opponents of a Hillary Clinton Presidential bid? Or for herself is there a book in the works? A reality TV show?
Lewinsky alludes to all of the obviously foreseen fallout from breaking her silence by saying she is going to stop “tiptoeing around my past—and other people’s futures.” She goes on to say, “I am determined to have a different ending to my story. I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)”
As for the impetus to come forward now, she says it was the the well-publicized tragedy of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi who committed suicide in 2010 after video of him kissing another man was made public on the Internet.
This opened old wounds for her mother, she revealed: “She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.”
She says of herself that back in 1998 “thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet
She says that in the aftermath, so many years later she wants “to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”
More excerpts at Vanity Fair here.
She has much more to say and she even responds to Beyonce name-checking her in ‘Partition’ lyrics (“….He popped all my buttons and he ripped my blouse / He Monica Lewinski’d all on my gown…”) She says, ““Thanks, Beyoncé, but if we’re verbing, I think you meant ‘Bill Clinton’d all on my gown,’ not ‘Monica Lewinsky’d.’”
It all goes to underscore just how imbued she and the blue dress and the affair have become in pop culture.