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I remember feeling a mix of repulsion and awe when the affair between Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton was first made public in 1998 Lewinsky was treated like a mere object, a beret and blue dress and she remained silent while becoming our modern day version of Hester Prynne. Between the SNL parodies, infamous Barbara Walters interview, and misguided purse collection she somehow disappeared but remained a footnote of what happens when good girls play too close to fire. 

Monica has recently emerged from the ashes and is giving her first candid interview to Vanity Fair about the affair and coping after such a traumatic experience, After reading the snippets of her interview, she still seems likable, intelligent, and a bit more poised, It’s hard not to feel squeamish when hearing her speak about having suicidal thoughts and how difficult it’s been post affair. In many ways “we” helped to discredit her and have kept her shackled to a poor judgment call she made many years ago. Over the last few days, I’ve had many conversations with my girlfriends about Monica and we’ve debated if she’s being unfairly punished for the affair when so many are still winking at Bill’s serial philandering. I wonder how many of us would fare if we were still being publicly shamed for what we did in our youth? Maybe because the “hook up” culture is so normalized now, I can’t help but think that if the affair had happened today, she would have bounced back stronger. 

As sensationalized as her story has been, I love the reason that she decided to tell her story on her own terms. Lewinsky writes that following Tyler Clementi’s tragedy “my own suffering took on a different meaning. Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation”. I stand behind her in her quest to be a sounding board for those who have suffered at the hands of the media, family or friends and are trying desperately to gain control of their voice. Monica isn’t a saint, but she won’t be the first to fall in love with a married man or the last. She deserves to be heard, and I’m all ears. 

 

Do you plan on reading her article in Vanity Fair? It hits stands tomorrow and I’ll do a follow up post once I’ve read it? 

Do you think that social media platforms help foster a culture of cheating? Who do you hold more resposible in an affair? The married person or the person they cheated with? 

 

 

 

 

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