The shame sticks to you like tar
April 18, 2016 12:38 PM   Subscribe

Jon Ronson, writing for The Guardian's Web We Want series (previously) profiles Monica Lewinsky. “She said to me, ‘Whenever power is involved, there always has to be a competing narrative. And you have no narrative.’ It was true. I had mistakenly thought that if I retreated from public life the narrative would dissipate. But instead it ran away from me even more.”
posted by zeusianfog (59 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
 
This woman got chewed up and spit out because of a bad judgment call at 22. Everyone associated with this 'scandal' (on both sides) looks like a duplicitous hypocritical craven asshole.

Except her. She was just a young woman who made a bad call with a powerful charismatic man and had her life destroyed as a result. All the other assholes just kept on trucking; their lives barely perturbed the by the destruction they wrought.

That just isn't fair.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:02 PM on April 18, 2016 [124 favorites]


I am close to Lewinsky's age, which now puts me close to the age Linda Tripp was back then. This shook me to the core then (my charismatic president being a jerk, the media flaying of the woman my age, the betrayals and lies) and I really can't speak objectively of it now.

I have coworkers in their early 20s and I could never, ever betray their trust like Tripp betrayed Lewinsky's. I thought I'd understand Tripp's side better when I got older but ... no.

And Bill Clinton continued/continues to soar as Monica Lewinsky was vilified, like Justin Timberlake continued/continues to soar after the Superbowl when Janet Jackson was vilified, and the people who post revenge-porny pics of their exes linger in oblivion while those womens' images live online forever more...

But for what it's worth, she looks great and I wish her happiness and peace and a group of good friends who have her back.
posted by kimberussell at 1:04 PM on April 18, 2016 [32 favorites]


To clarify:

Henry Hyde: In a September 1998 article, Salon.com reported that Hyde had carried on an affair with a married woman named Cherie Snodgrass during the 1960s, a story the Congressman later acknowledged was true.

Newt Gingrich: while he was pushing for Clinton’s impeachment, he was engaged in an affair with a Congressional aide. “There were times when I was praying and when I felt I was doing things that were wrong. But I was still doing them,” Gingrich said in 2007. He later said the situation was “complex and, obviously, I wasn’t doing things to be proud of.”

Bob Livingston: the day of the House vote on the articles of impeachment against Clinton, he suddenly resigned after Hustler Magazine publisher Larry Flynt threatened to release details about what he described as four extramarital affairs by Livingston.

Dennis Hastert: indicted on charges that he illegally structured $1.7 million in payments to an individual in an attempt to cover up prior misconduct. According to reports, the payments were allegedly intended to “conceal sexual abuse against a former male student he knew during his days as a teacher in Yorkville, Ill.” The LA Times also reported that “investigators also spoke with a second man who raised similar allegations that corroborated what the former student said.”

Fuck those guys.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:06 PM on April 18, 2016 [70 favorites]


“Mike Daisey carried on,” I say. “He said, ‘I’d never had the opportunity to be the object of hate before. The hard part isn’t the hate. It’s the object.’”

This is a really choice quote. It kind of symbolizes the frustration I have about how Jon Ronson's research into internet mob shaming almost immediately began being co-opted by internet pot-stirrers as a shield from any criticism or disagreement--by framing it as being "shamed." This highlights the distinction really well. You aren't just hated--you're also dehumanized. No one was speaking to Monica Lewinsky when she was the focus of the world media. No one was asking about how she arrived at her choices, or if she was okay, or what she would do differently. They were using her existence as a political football or a punchline or a stern morality lesson. It's a huge embarrassment that we, as a society, let everyone off the hook for dehumanizing her.
posted by almostmanda at 1:08 PM on April 18, 2016 [34 favorites]


It just irritates me so much that Bill Clinton is rich and comparatively respected while she has been virtually unemployable her whole life until very recently. I really think a lot of it is about the contempt that sexual women are held in - yes, it was a lousy decision to make, but the whole snickering-and-pointing aspect is insanely misogynist, because it's predicated on making fun of her for specific sexual acts, and it's predicated on the idea that those sexual acts are things that many women do and that many men expect, but that it's still somehow okay to shame a woman who does them. It's both mandatory to do those things in a sexual relationship and deeply shameful. It's shameful that she had sex, but it's not shameful that he had sex, even though he was the one who was actually cheating.

I mean, the whole scandal was a ridiculous Republican put-up job, but it worked because of the shaming of women for having sex.
posted by Frowner at 1:10 PM on April 18, 2016 [76 favorites]


I was 13 or 14 when the scandal erupted and fully bought into the pillorying of Monica at the time. It wasn't until I grew up that I realized just how fucked up the whole situation was - a powerful male politician preying upon younger female subordinates - and that no, it wasn't just a textbook affair with lol semen stains~. In retrospect I'm horrified at what we put this poor woman through. And she was only 21! My 13-year-old self thought she was old. No, no she wasn't.

Bill Clinton ain't shit.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 1:11 PM on April 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


And I've got to say, the whole "being bullied as a girl about my weight" part just kills me.

I also remember a lot of hatred of her when all this happened because she "wasn't pretty enough", "how could he do that with her", etc etc. At the time, I found it confusing and upsetting because I thought she was absolutely lovely, but now I realize that any woman would have been "not pretty enough", because somehow any sexually active women are both irresistible and not pretty enough, no matter what they look like.

Just a horrible thing all around. I used to google her every few years, because - and this is pretty ridiculous - I used to worry about how she was going to make a living, because being from a merely rich family isn't the same as being independently wealthy.
posted by Frowner at 1:16 PM on April 18, 2016 [25 favorites]


I highly recommend Monica in Black and White if it's still available for viewing anywhere.
posted by archimago at 1:18 PM on April 18, 2016


Yeah, I've made this comment previously, but I can't believe how our society has treated her. When it happened, I was in middle school - I remember hearing about the Starr report (and of course, its most titillating details made their way onto the schoolyard) - then, all I really understood was that a bunch of Grown Ups, including the president, had done some shocking things together.

Now that I'm older than Monica was, when I think about it I feel shocked only that we could have treated that young woman so badly. I made my own share of bad choices at her age because of power differentials infinitesimally smaller than the one between the President of the United States of America and a 22-year old. Christ.
posted by Aubergine at 1:20 PM on April 18, 2016 [12 favorites]


I was in fifth grade when this all went down - I've probably mentioned before that it's how I learned what oral sex was (and I thought the other kids were making it up, because why would anyone ever do THAT?).

I was talking to my similar-age coworker the other day, and we both realized - neither one of us really had any idea how YOUNG Monica Lewinsky was. Maybe we knew her age on paper, but to a kid, anyone over 18 is an adult and that's that. It's only been recently, in my late 20s, that I've realized how holy-shit-young 22 is.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:36 PM on April 18, 2016 [10 favorites]


Man, I wish somebody other than Ronson had written this, because he can't resist going into his whole 'misogyny is not the problem' trip. But overall it's a good profile, and it's still absolutely stunning to me, as others have said, how awful Monica Lewinsky has been treated.
posted by koeselitz at 1:37 PM on April 18, 2016 [18 favorites]


I tell Lewinsky that I think the problem with focusing all the attention on misogynists and racists is that it’s bound to legitimise certain types of bullying. I’ve seen men try to speak up about their online abuse only to be met with a barrage of “stop whining” and “check your privilege”.

Men will 'what about the men' anywhere, won't they?
posted by asockpuppet at 1:42 PM on April 18, 2016 [47 favorites]


I'm about thirteen years older than Monica Lewinsky and lived in DC at the time the whole shitstorm occurred. That age gap--close enough to relate to ML, distant enough to have some perspective on Past Me-- meant that I knew perfectly well that I could not, with certainty, say that at 22 I would have resisted the potent mix of attraction, power, affirmation, etc. that led to the whole mess. That was not a popular perspective to voice, and it received a lot of indignant denials from my peers (especially women), but it's true.

I, too, followed her career and its various eddies hoping that she would emerge in a good place. I'm so happy to see her making a difference in the world, owning her story and exploring its implications to help others.
posted by carmicha at 1:43 PM on April 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


Whenever people start going on about how great Beyoncé's feminism is, the second thing that pops into my mind is how she uses Monica Lewinski as jokey shorthand for ejaculating on someone.

(The first thing that I think is about how she invited her sad rap dad husband to continue his struggle to remain relevant by clumsily inserting a verse comparing his skills to one of the most infamous cases of spousal abuse in American history, but that's another matter entirely.)
posted by Parasite Unseen at 1:44 PM on April 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


Boy, what a tough woman. I can't think of many people who could have survived as well. Most would have crumbled. And it would have been understandable. I wish the best for her.
posted by 2N2222 at 1:45 PM on April 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


I have to admit, even as a fan of Ronson's writing, I was a little nervous of how easily the discussion of public shaming could go wrong. I've been pleased to see that, along with the other pieces he's written, I thought the victim came across as a person as opposed to the object they'd been made out to be. For Lewinski specifically, I was shocked to hear the impact that it's had on her life in terms of employability, relationships and self. And I'm really glad to hear that she's finding ways to deal with all of those things now. She did nothing to deserve the misogyny, partisanship and shaming that she received.
posted by Jakey at 1:47 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I remember at the time (I am about Lewinsky's age) thinking that I had somehow slipped into a pocket universe due to how everyone I respected was busily trying to deflect any responsibility off Clinton by heaping all the shame and vilification onto her. I really felt like fuck all of those guys, Clinton and his defenders and the House GOP, a pox on both of their houses. And I'm pretty sure I heard Gloria Steinem on the radio giving a gold Feminist Get Out of Jail Free card to Bill Clinton because the most powerful man in the world trying to get with a woman half his age who works for him and then throwing her under the bus is totally not creepy and abusive and gaslighty at all, it's just consenting adults, nothing to judge unfavorably here, everyone move on. I was dumbfounded.
posted by soren_lorensen at 1:47 PM on April 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


I say I can't get hyped about a Hilary Clinton presidency because of her record on the Iraq War (and this is true), but if I'm being honestly, it's her record on Lewinsky and the other women the Clinton team tar-and-feathered that I really have the hardest time getting over. Like others in the thread, I'm approximately Lewinsky's age, I'd also volunteered for the Clinton campaign before I could actually vote, and this plus Clinton running on DOMA in the South in '96 nearly turned me off of political action that involved campaigning forever.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 1:48 PM on April 18, 2016 [15 favorites]


It just irritates me so much that Bill Clinton is rich and comparatively respected.

I don't think anyone respects him, even among Democrats.
posted by Beholder at 1:59 PM on April 18, 2016


She was just a young woman who made a bad call with a powerful charismatic man and had her life destroyed as a result.

WHICH HAS BEEN HAPPENING FOR CENTURIES. Like, what kind of mental gymnastics are required to beat Monica down over what happened? Always know the knives can come out.
posted by rhizome at 2:10 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


Linda Tripp went to my high school, ashamed to say, and my mother knew her mother who was a pain in the butt on the school board. My mother was a teacher. Linda's mother is still a pain in the butt at town meetings. I tried to read the article, it was too much "poor little rich girl" and I gave up. The whole Clinton/Lewinski thing was an ugly mess, everyone guilty, nobody innocent and nothing to do with running the country as so many former presidents had mistresses and it was kept quiet and life went on.
posted by mermayd at 2:13 PM on April 18, 2016


um what?

A 22 year old gets involved with her employer, literally the most powerful man on earth, and you think it's all the same on all sides?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:18 PM on April 18, 2016 [43 favorites]


"...meant that I knew perfectly well that I could not, with certainty, say that at 22 I would have resisted the potent mix of attraction, power, affirmation, etc. that led to the whole mess..."

I am flummoxed that even in this thread there's a theme of focusing on the rightness of her choice. I'll concede that getting sexually involved in your workplace with someone in authority, and with someone who is married, is a risky thing and arguably unwise. But in the context of this whole thing as a scandal, Lewinski's choice was about as blameless as could be. There is something very fucked-up that the narrative is still somehow about her choices and what she did or didn't do.

I was 33 at the time and a big Clinton supporter -- his election was a watershed moment for me, as someone who came of age right when Reagan was elected and then there were twelve more years of GOP administrations. But my first and enduring response was that Clinton's choice was a form of sexual harassment. I actually have a very vivid, specific memory of where I was standing and how angry I was at Bill Clinton. In 1998, and still today, I think that any situation where a person in authority in a workplace has sex with some under their authority, directly or indirectly, it's at minimum ethically wrong. I never saw anything wrong with Lewinski and was appalled at the blame and stigma that attached to her and the people making excuses for Clinton.

However, after about a month, and Ken Starr, the context became this unbelievable witch hunt against Clinton that we now know was also horrible hypocritical. I didn't think that Clinton should have been impeached, given that this sort of thing is widespread in DC and almost no one else I knew took it as seriously as I did, and so it was just clear that this was opportunistic and offensively hypocritical politics and it became very difficult for me, in that atmosphere, to discuss my concerns about Clinton's behavior.

For me, at the time and now, the one person who was blameless in this was Lewinski and just reading in the article some of the things said about her -- like Leno's joke -- makes me want to spit with anger. That all this censure and shame accrued to Lewinski is kind of a beacon to the misogyny in our culture.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:18 PM on April 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


I was barely a teenager when this came about and knew nothing, Jon Snow, about anything. And even a few months ago when I was the recipient of one of my retired dad's email forwards that was literally still joking about this (email forwards never die!), I didn't stop to rethink about this whole thing.

Until today. Wow. That poor young woman. I mean, the President of the USA, someone who is so charismatic and powerful, flirts with you, a young know-little intern, and then you get hit by this BUS of slut shaming for the next 20 years.

But I never even thought to reframe what I had heard in the school yard (and more than likely repeated). Never ever.

I gotta do better. I deleted that terrible email forward, and will do again. But maybe next time I need to push back a little more. Nobody deserves to be treated like Ms. Lewinsky was (and is).
posted by jillithd at 2:18 PM on April 18, 2016 [9 favorites]


Lewinski's choice was about as blameless as could be.

You can say that again. The situation in general is about as common as speeding tickets.
posted by rhizome at 2:22 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I tell Lewinsky that I think the problem with focusing all the attention on misogynists and racists is that it’s bound to legitimise certain types of bullying. I’ve seen men try to speak up about their online abuse only to be met with a barrage of “stop whining” and “check your privilege”. The sentimental view is that men tend to recover from online bullying just fine, whereas women are crushed; but psychologists will tell you there are bigger differences between individuals than gender when it comes to overcoming abuse.

What if I told you it was possible to try and gain momentum for support of male victims without trying to detract from the effects misogyny in the same breathe?
posted by FirstMateKate at 2:25 PM on April 18, 2016 [25 favorites]


Can one agree that she was treated inexcusably shittily back then (and from time to time in the ongoing discourse) without necessarily accepting the assumption embedded in her narrative about her present, which, from what I've seen, is that she has been wrongfully denied her rightful upper-middle-class policy/publicity sinecure or whatever it is she thinks she's entitled to despite not really having accomplished all that much? Honestly, I went into the first profile I read about her prepared to be much more sympathetic about her current situation, and when it comes to what will probably be the lifelong pain of having your youthful misbehavior a permanent running joke/shame, I really am, but not so much when it comes to her career.
posted by praemunire at 2:42 PM on April 18, 2016


or whatever it is she thinks she's entitled to despite not really having accomplished all that much?

Ask yourself the next question: why hasn't she accomplished as much as one might expect?
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 2:44 PM on April 18, 2016 [43 favorites]


For me, the career piece was much more "here is someone who has not been able to get any job at all, from working retail to a professional job following on a professional degree". That's what triggers all my empathy-anxiety. If it were "Lewinsky's hopes of a high-ranking diplomatic career were derailed; she is now a teacher of grant-writing", that would feel different to me. But it would still be irritating, because the sole reason for derailing her upper-classitude would be hatred of women and women's sexuality. Similarly, I don't care for the grossly misogynist cartoons that were produced by some on the left about Margaret Thatcher, despite my deep and burning hatred for Thatcher; she didn't deserve sexual mockery from people who didn't like her politics.
posted by Frowner at 2:48 PM on April 18, 2016 [24 favorites]


After quoting me, Ivan Fyodorowich wrote:

I am flummoxed that even in this thread there's a theme of focusing on the rightness of her choice. I'll concede that getting sexually involved in your workplace with someone in authority, and with someone who is married, is a risky thing and arguably unwise. But in the context of this whole thing as a scandal, Lewinski's choice was about as blameless as could be.

Perhaps I expressed myself poorly, but I completely agree with you and did contemporaneously as well. The Sexual Preditor-in-Chief was completely to blame.
posted by carmicha at 3:25 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


... is that she has been wrongfully denied her rightful upper-middle-class policy/publicity sinecure or whatever it is she thinks she's entitled to despite not really having accomplished all that much?

This poor woman never had a chance to accomplish anything after the media and politicians were done with her. Her life was ruined. Ruined.
posted by futz at 3:38 PM on April 18, 2016 [19 favorites]


A few things that I feel like get lost in the haze of time when we talk about the Clinton impeachment that bugged college-aged (at the time) me:

1. You were an uptight prude if you weren't cool with the Monica/blow job jokes that were everywhere on late night tv, like why else would you object to such jokes other than hating sex?

2. OMG feminists who support Bill Clinton's presidency what do you have to say for yourselves now, huh? When will you condemn his actions, you hypocrites!

3. I was not cool with any of Bill Clinton's behavior with respect to this, but I feel like Linda Tripp's preying upon and subsequent betrayal of Monica Lewinsky and the way Kenneth Starr and the Republicans took a 22 year old woman grilled her on her sex life because they had spent years grasping at shreds of something to take down Clinton was beyond immoral. There is a chance that had Linda Tripp not convinced her to keep the blue dress that Monica Lewinsky would have escaped back into obscurity after denying the relationship. Instead those assholes forced her to testify or face perjury.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 3:51 PM on April 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


And I guess my issue with Jon Ronson is that I think that Monica Lewinsky actually is a good example of someone who was illegitimately shamed. But I also think he uses the same language to talk about people who maybe just faced reasonable consequences for bad public behavior. I don't really think that what happened to Mike Daisey is the same as what happened to Monica Lewinsky. If you're a public figure who fucks up publicly, that's going to be embarrassing. It's not really the same as having your blowjobs be the subject of Congressional investigation.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:31 PM on April 18, 2016 [24 favorites]


Ask yourself the next question: why hasn't she accomplished as much as one might expect?

I don't know. She didn't get her internship on the basis of superstar genius (it was via her wealthy family's connections), and while she's clearly not an idiot, neither do the interviews/profiles that I've seen reveal a tremendously compelling intellect. Within five miles of my apartment are literally thousands of Lewinskys, young women with all the advantages their parents' money can provide but actual talent not yet clear. Not all of them go on to great careers in "creative communication" or "branding" (her description of her career aspirations post-scandal). A lot of smarter and harder-working young women without those same advantages don't, either, and they also don't get to live their lives "splitting their time between New York and London," living in the West Village, going to parties with Graydon Carter, etc.

Lewinsky lived through a personal cataclysm no one should have had to endure because our sitting president couldn't behave with a modicum of decorum in his very seat of office. It was grossly unjust, and over the years I've only gotten more angry at Clinton over it. I don't even blame her for the things she did to cash in afterwards (which tend to be rather glossed over in current reports; handbags are vaguely respectable enough, Jenny Craig isn't). But there's just that bit of frustrated upper-middle-class white girl entitlement showing through that makes me balk a little at the way she talks about her present.
posted by praemunire at 4:33 PM on April 18, 2016 [7 favorites]


handbags are vaguely respectable enough, Jenny Craig isn't

Stop. Stooooooooooooop.
posted by psoas at 4:53 PM on April 18, 2016 [34 favorites]


To be fair, I'm pretty sure nobody gets a White House internship without connections, so that kind of reads as "No True Scotsman" logic. I'd probably try to refocus on how the power that brought her down operates, rather than implying that someone with fewer advantages would not have been subject to the fucked up opportunity costs that help this exploitation occur.
posted by rhizome at 4:58 PM on April 18, 2016


[Couple of comments deleted. Maybe let's move on from whether Lewinsky talks about her situation in a way that endears her on a personal level; seems like that's just a fight brewing over not much.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 5:04 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I never thought thoroughly enough about Lewinsky until her TED talk, and I never would have come across it if I hadn't started reading Brene Brown and read about fear of shame and the way people use shame to control and hurt others, sometimes just to feel better about themselves.

I feel bad for accepting the horrible stereotype others bandied around about her. All the shame was on her. She had to feel so much pain because Clinton took advantage of a young, naive woman. he gets treated like he wasn't even there, or that he couldn't help it. Didn't he even say so much? That he did it because he had the option? She was only 21.

I was crazy infatuated w/an older and more experienced guy (I believed I was in love at the time but I didn't know him at all and i was in a real fever) at 21 and he was so very much the wrong guy to get involved with and I can only get now how so very, very naive I was about his intentions and POV now, remembering the things he said and did. And boy, maybe I can chalk it up as a lesson, but Lewinsky had no idea what she had gotten herself into. And Clinton got a pass, other men and women let him get on with his life because "boys will be boys" and "guys need sex and will have it with anyone" like men are helpless and stupid when it comes to sex. How the hell did he not know better? Clinton was way older than my older man---huge age difference between him and Monica. And he was so much older than Lewinsky. Guy was nearly 50 yrs old!

I'm about ten yrs younger than her and kind of wish I could apologize to Lewinsky for not considering her pain, for not correcting anybody when they made jokes about her. I feel badly for her. She didn't deserve to be treated so badly by everybody.
posted by discopolo at 5:43 PM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


The fact that Bill Clinton had sexual relationships outside his marriage is a matter between Bill Clinton, his wife and the others involved. It is none of our business. Nor does the existence of those relationships make him a sexual predator. What we know of his relationships with Ms. Rodham, Ms Flowers and Ms. Lewinski would seem to show a pattern of consensual sex acts with willing partners.
posted by humanfont at 6:22 PM on April 18, 2016


Nor does the existence of those relationships make him a sexual predator.

No, the incredible power differential between the President of the United States of America and an intern on his staff does.

would seem to show a pattern of consensual sex acts with willing partners.

There's a really solid question to be asked about whether consent is possible when the person one is consenting to have sex with is the most powerful person on the planet. And your boss.

Plus there's a lot of accounts of non-consensual, as in not even what some people think is a grey area, encounters. I cannot remember details.

The thing about consent is that it needs to be a) enthusiastic, and b) not coerced. When there's such an enormous difference in power, b kinda goes out the window.
posted by feckless fecal fear mongering at 6:27 PM on April 18, 2016 [24 favorites]


There's a reason why some universities explicitly forbid relationships between professors and undergraduates.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 6:33 PM on April 18, 2016 [5 favorites]


I'm approximately Lewinsky's age and at the time I definitely thought: never pursue your boss/teacher, that will only lead to trouble. I mean I still think that, but now I also think: don't fuck the interns/your students no matter how strongly they come on to you, you are the adult here. I also totally understand why both of them tried to publicly deny it. As is evident, she had a lot more to lose than he did. Which is why you just don't fuck you interns or students because you are the one with the power.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 7:48 PM on April 18, 2016 [3 favorites]


My current concern for Monica is that she will be used again by the Republicans. The timing of her reappearance just makes me feel a little off about her.

I do agree she was beat to hell by the world at the time, and when Hillary is questioned about Monica, Hillary comes across as a cold hearted bitch, which makes me dislike her even more. She really really needs to develop some compassion for the 22 year old Monica.

But why is Monica surfacing now? Is it just to fuck with Hillary's campaign?
posted by cairnoflore at 8:04 PM on April 18, 2016 [2 favorites]


Policies drafted by university lawyers to protect against lawsuits are not necessarily based on circumstances or the messiness of human romantic entanglements.
posted by humanfont at 8:36 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


They're based on the fact that sexual relationships within the context of large institutional power imbalances are implicitly exploitative. I'm not really interested in anyone's "messy human relationships" attempt to rationalize this fact away.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 8:43 PM on April 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


Well, (a) Monica's taking back her own narrative, and (b) the word "Clinton" coming up in campaigning lately will inevitably happen.

Frowner, I've been worried about her too. How the hell do you survive if you can't get ANY kind of job, even a volunteer job? Also, is she getting paid for anything now? I gather from this thread her parents have money, which is probably a godsend because otherwise she might be dead.
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:07 PM on April 18, 2016 [1 favorite]


I really do think we're doing Lewinsky a disservice by rehashing the same old arguments we've been having since 1998. What I got from this piece is that she wants, more than anything else, to be considered as a person unto herself. Yes, she realizes the scandal stuff will always be a part of her, but she's chosen to envelop that and move on to the second act of her life. Her devotion to the anti-bullying cause is quite admirable, and I think she's doing some really great work out there. So, cheers to Monica! I'm glad she's out there doing what she's doing.
posted by panama joe at 9:45 PM on April 18, 2016 [4 favorites]


She's not "surfacing now", she's been talking about anti-bullying efforts for a while. And I do hope Clinton has to answer for it. Either, and or both, should offer her sincere apologies. They won't, but they should. They vilified her in public and contributed to her downfall, and the fact that neither of them have ever shown even the slightest bit of remorse sort of proves what sort of people they are. Let nothing, or no one, stand in the way of their ambition.

Hillary has gone full bore, guns blazing at every single one of Bill's known affairs, calling them liars and attention whores etc., and she's never once come out and said "My husband is an asshole who can't keep his dick in his pants, and I am truly sorry for the things I have said, and the actions I have taken, using the power of my position, to harm these women." And she won't, because I don't think she does regret it, I think she would do it again in a heartbeat if it meant protecting her power.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 9:58 PM on April 18, 2016 [13 favorites]


The thing is, unlike the rest of us, every single potential employer will consider her sexual adventures from a lifetime ago. Who else is subjected to such scrutiny? I reckon even porn stars get to move on from what they did 20 years ago. I have long had sympathy for Monica. She was clearly an intelligent and capable woman - she was just young, and i have personally have fucked men i would be embarrassed to be connected with, long after the age of 21. My daughter (23) is navigating a break up, and I'm tolerant of her making the mistakes people make when they make a mistake the first (few) time (s). But Monica had no privacy, no tolerance from the media, and it never changed. I think she is rather marvellous, that despite the way the world closed its doors to her, she kept on trying, working, growing. Now is the time for some forward-thinking company to take her on, to recognise her innate dignity and strength and resilience. Good onya, Monica. I hope one day you will be a political force in your own right. You understand discrimination in a very personal way. You are an inspiration.
posted by b33j at 5:08 AM on April 19, 2016 [7 favorites]


But why is Monica surfacing now? Is it just to fuck with Hillary's campaign?

If Monica was intent on taking center stage and deep-sixing Hillary's campaign, there are many, many Mirror Universe Media sources who would be lining up at her door for her commentary. Far from it:

“What’s your nightmare scenario?” I ask her.

“The truth is I’m exhausted,” she says. “So I’m worried I may misspeak, and that thing will become the headline and the cycle will start all over again.”


I tend to agree with the late Molly Ivins that the Southern male politician in his natural state is, as likely as not, "a shameless pussyhound." The examples of the trend are legion, and include a sizable percentage (as noted previously) of those who sought impeachment over l'affaire Lewinsky. IOKIYAR, of course. (It's Okay If You're A Republican.)
posted by delfin at 6:39 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


One thing that did jump out at me from her description of the affair that really creeps me out: She describes it as "I told him that I had a crush on him and then he invited me to the back room". That's....working awfully fast, even in a basically consensual situation. I just think back on myself at 21 (like Lewinsky, I was bullied pretty horribly over my appearance and it really marked me) and my ideal relationship didn't go from "I have a crush on you" to "let's have sex right now" in sixty seconds.

Also, frankly, now that I am a full-grown middle-aged adult, I cannot even imagine the depths of depravity it would take for me to encourage a young person who was dependent on me for her career to make a really, really bad decision simply because I thought it would be fun. It's not the sex that's depraved, it's the absolute failure of a grown-up to look out for a young person for whom he was responsible.
posted by Frowner at 7:13 AM on April 19, 2016 [17 favorites]


But why is Monica surfacing now? Is it just to fuck with Hillary's campaign?

I hope you meant, "Why is the media paying attention to and publishing interviews with Lewinsky now?" And yes, it probably has to do with Clinton's campaign.
posted by straight at 10:12 AM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I did a MeFi search last night and she comes up in one way or another, for better or worse, just about every six months around here since just about forever. The 2002 post about her is probably worth comparing against the press she gets as a barometer of conventional wisdom.
posted by rhizome at 1:48 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jesus, that 2002 thread is terrible and many of those comments are infuriating.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 2:40 PM on April 19, 2016 [6 favorites]


Goddamn, Metafilter used to be so mean
posted by asockpuppet at 5:31 PM on April 19, 2016 [1 favorite]


2002, fresh of a hard wave of layoffs.
posted by rhizome at 6:25 PM on April 19, 2016


One thing that did jump out at me from her description of the affair that really creeps me out: She describes it as "I told him that I had a crush on him and then he invited me to the back room". That's....working awfully fast, even in a basically consensual situation.

That was so very upsetting, frowner. It's upsetting to read. He was nearly 50 yrs old. That he said that makes me believe that there must have been more interns who have never said anything.

I'd made a silly "he's so hot" comment as an 18 yr old about my late forties science lab instructor because I was just being high spirited and silly. He was attractive but, I didn't mean anything by it. I definitely didn't want sex with him or even attention from him. And At that age, in that particular period that wasn't even all that long ago, I wasn't as aware of how guys were about sex. I had a much more romantic idea of everything. I didn't know any of the stuff that I would have known if the Internet had been as mainstream back then as it is now. And I'm talking as someone who is nearly a decade younger than Monica Lewinsky.

The Lewinsky encounters with Clinton remind me of Lee's encounters with Cross Sugarman in Curtis Sittenfeld's Prep. And I think a lot of women found those descriptions sadly familiar. But the majority of us didn't get into an impossible situation with a guy who was nearby 50 & also the most powerful man in the world.
posted by discopolo at 7:07 PM on April 19, 2016 [2 favorites]


Jesus, that 2002 thread is painful. I'd forgotten mefi could get like that back in the day.
posted by SecretAgentSockpuppet at 1:06 PM on April 20, 2016 [3 favorites]


From September 1998: Salon's coverage of Henry Hyde's hypocrisy, and "Why we ran the Henry Hyde story".
Two weeks ago, Salon editor David Talbot received a phone call from a 72-year-old retiree in Aventura, Fla., named Norm Sommer....
Among the various publications he contacted in a futile effort to air the story were the Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe and Miami Herald. He finally turned to Salon, he said, when he heard the Web magazine mentioned on a TV talk show.
I remember when that was an example of the importance and power of the Web, that it was a home for new media that wasn't beholden to whatever forces kept the old mainstream news outlets from exposing truths. But also at that same moment, in 1998, the jerks in comment sections at Segfault and Slashdot were making coarse jokes about Natalie Portman, which I admit I did not see at the time as harbingers of the online misogyny & bullying of today...
posted by brainwane at 9:05 AM on April 24, 2016


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