Monica Lewinsky has spelled it right out. She deeply regrets what happened between herself and President Clinton. In an interview with Vanity Fair, to appear on newsstands later this week, the former White House intern breaks her long silence over her affair with the former President of the United States. “Its time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” Lewinsky has declared.
Monica Lewinsky is now a 40-year-old woman. She feels it is time to stop “tiptoeing around the past” and to open up about her experiences, so that she may be able to help others in their “darkest moments of humiliation.” She is quite adamant that the relationship was one between two consenting adults. However, it was what happened in the aftermath that cast her as the scapegoat, in order to protect Clinton’s power and prestige. After President Clinton was impeached, the scandal followed everyone involved for many years.
She has kept so quiet that rumors have circulated that she must have been paid off; presumably by the Clintons. She insists that was not so. She turned down offers worth tens of millions of dollars because they did not “feel like the right thing to do.” Her life was permanently sent off track, but not, she insists, because of a boss who took advantage of her. The consensual affair harmed her most in the end as she was the one without the power.
Lewinsky was, she believes, arguably the “most humiliated person in the world” in 1998, when the news broke, and this was aided and abetted by the newly emerging internet. Thus, it was a global humiliation; monstrously hard for any young woman to try to deal with.
She speaks movingly in the interview of how her own mother kept vigil by her bedside, terrified she would take her own life. She could not keep her suicidal daughter out of her sight. As Monica Lewinsky puts it now, she thought she might be “literally humiliated to death.” She did not, in fact, ever attempt suicide, but had strong temptations, especially during the time of the investigations.
When Tyler Clementi, 18, did commit suicide in 2010, it brought it all back for the Lewinsky family–“The shame, the scorn, and the fear.” Monica found this to be a turning point where her own suffering “took on a different meaning.” She thought she may be able to give some meaning to her past by helping others in the same predicament. By speaking out, she reasoned, she could give help to fellow victims of both humiliation and harassment.
Lewinsky has found it difficult to build a new life and career. Although she went on to the prestigious London School of Economics (LSE), where she earned a masters in social psychology, she then drifted for many years between different cities. She wanted to work in the charity sector with an emphasis on branding and communication, but she found that her “history” dogged her chances. Prospective employers were either wary of her, or wanted to take her on for all the wrong reasons: as an attendee at press events to pull in all the wrong sort of attention.
Time to reflect has granted Ms. Lewinsky a degree of good humor about the events that so shaped her life. When she heard that First Lady Hillary Clinton had referred to her as that “narcissitic loony tune” she felt, “well, if that’s the worst thing she can say…” Likewise, she is moved to correct Beyoncé on the lyrics to her hit song Partition, which mentions “Monica Lewinsky’d all on my gown.” To be verbally accurate, says Monica, it should be “Bill Clinton’d all on my gown.” Pretty icky, but a fair point.
She maintained a long and dignified silence, but now Monica Lewinsky thinks the time has come to tell her side of the story that so rocked the political world, and ruined hers; a happening that she still deeply regrets.
By Kate Henderson