I'd always wondered what had become of her. Where she was. What she was doing. If she was married. If she had kids. If she was happy. In essence, I'd been thinking about how hard it must have been for her to move on. To go on. To try to live a normal life.
Photo credit: Vanity Fair
In the article, she clarifies what she stated back in the 90s. That her affair with then President of the United States Bill Clinton was a consensual relationship, but that yes, he did take advantage of her. There was a tremendous abuse of power at play. Her being a 22-year-old fresh-faced intern, and him being a 50-something President.
Imagine that girl, burdened with self-esteem and self-worth issues, battling a weight problem, and suddenly catching the eye of the most powerful man in the world. Whoa!
These days, when you mention Monica Lewinsky, people seem to think only about the affair itself. When in reality, although she was clearly taken advantage of, that was the least of her problems. The real damage was done in the aftermath. The witch hunt and the campaign to destroy her credibility that left her mother with the fear that she ''would be literally humiliated to death''.
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During her time at the White House from 1995 to 1997, Monica admitted to having 9 sexual interactions with the President. All of those encounters being of oral nature. No intercourse ever took place, according to both parties.
Lewinsky's name then came up in a sexual harassment case against Clinton, that of Paula Jones, who alleged he had been inappropriate with her during his time as governor of Arkansas. Monica's denial of any wrongdoing in her affidavit in that case came back to haunt her once the news of her own scandal broke. Because she had technically committed perjury by lying in the Jones case.
By that point, Monica was working at the Pentagon, having been relocated because some of the President's aides thought she had grown ''too close" to him. At the Pentagon, she confided in her coworker and new friend Linda Tripp. Who then taped her phone conversations with Monica, in the hopes of setting her up!
With the information on the Tripp tapes, the FBI and a prosecution team (led by Kenneth Starr, who was already investigating the President on other charges) then seized Monica and held her captive for 12 hours in a room at the Ritz-Carlton during which they questioned her about the affair. Scaring her with the threat of 27 years in prison due to her perjuring herself in the Paula Jones case.
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Kenneth Starr and his team used Monica as a way to get at the President when their other investigation yielded no results. Subsequently, the President and his team had to discredit Monica in the press in a way to counterattack the claims from the Starr team.
Monica was caught in the middle, essentially getting smeared from both sides. And according to her, those false claims stuck in the public's perception, because they came from people in positions of power. No matter what she did or what she said, people would always believe the lies that were said about her.
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Regardless of what you think of her for sleeping with a married man. She in no way deserved to be made a scapegoat in a dangerous, high-level political game. That ended in the impeachment of the President, no less.
In 1999, Monica's Story was told by famed biography writer Andrew Morton in the aptly titled Monica's Story. The book reads like a political thriller. The grand nature of the affair and its repercussions are astounding. The high level of seriousness the whole thing was dealt with coupled with the very naive feelings expressed by Monica at the time make for a fascinating read.
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Sadly, it's in no way shocking to learn that she's had a very difficult time finding a job. Even though she has a Master's Degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics. Employers just can't get over her ''history''. (Bill & Hillary are doing fine, though).
She says in Vanity Fair that she'd like ''to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums". She was inspired to go this route after hearing the Tyler Clementi story.
I think that's great. If anyone can be a poster girl for humiliation and harassment it's Monica Lewinsky. It's time for her to step out of the shadows and put her story to good use.
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If you forgot the details or just want to learn more about Monica's ordeal, I recommend the amazing documentary Monica in Black and White. You can also get Monica's Story used for about 5$ on Amazon.com, or 1$ on eBay. Trust me, it's worth a read!
Vanity Fair's June issue is out May 13th.