Fact: I was 14 when the scandal of Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton, former president of the United States of America, broke loose. All I understood was that the married president had an affair with an intern. He was impeached and she was publicly humiliated and shunned from society. I am not going to discuss what Monica Lewinsky did in her twenties, because honestly, it is not anyone’s place to judge.
Speaking of judging, all hell broke loose when Monica Lewinsky reappeared with a public speech at the Forbes 30 Under 30 Forum this week.
Websites, TVs, Bloggers, Social Media Networks were suddenly filled with two teams fighting against each other, one team supporting her courage to come out and speak of her ordeal and the other reminding her of her life as a “president’s whore”, some even called her unpatriotic and a “Spy”. Turns out, for most of the population, something that happened over 16 years ago will not leave your reputation, Monica Lewinsky seems doomed to carry the Scarlett letter forever.
So, What did Lewinsky say? She first made a joke about people wondering “Who the hell is she, this Monica? And what is she doing here?” She then joked about her life in the limelight and what reading the Starr Report online with the rest of the people meant for her sense of privacy and “shame”.
@MonicaLewinsky Good luck, and don’t be afraid to block the creeps/jerks/haters.
— Krista Elliott (@elliottkrista) October 20, 2014
She recalls “Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one. I was Patient Zero.” I kind of agree, in the age of No Google and No Privacy Settings, Monica Lewinsky back then was the patient zero of social media bullying. She feared for her safety and her only friends at the time were the FBI agents on her security detail. She briefly acknowledged her affair with former President Bill Clinton but mainly focused on the aftermath which according to her, left her “shattered” and repeating to herself “I want to die.” She also mentioned to the audience the recent wave of celebrity nude photo hacking and leaking, warning “anyone can be next.” My opinions of Monica Lewinsky as a human being are irrelevant here. I feel the need to praise this woman taking a very public stand and subjecting herself to a wave of abuse and shaming for one greater cause she is now crusading for, Cyber Bullying. Since Lewinsky was the first person to have their reputation destroyed over the internet, she now declares she would now use her experience to help others deal with cyber bullying and online violations of privacy.
“Having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive too,” she said.
In her speech, Monica recounted the story of the late Tyler Clementi, saying “Anyone can be next. One day in 2010, an 18-year-old Rutgers freshman called Tyler Clementi, was next. After his roommate secretly videotape streamed him via Webcam kissing another man, Tyler was derided and ridiculed online. A few days later, submerged in the shame and public humiliation, he jumped from the George Washington Bridge to his death.
That tragedy is one of the principal reasons I am standing up here today. While it touched us both, my mother was unusually upset by the story and I wondered why. Eventually it dawned on me: she was back in 1998, back to a time when I was periodically suicidal; when she might very easily have lost me; when I, too, might have been humiliated to death.”
Monica does have an uphill battle unleashing online, She joined Twitter Two days ago on October 20th, only to release three tweets, following no one and gaining almost 70,000 followers in the blink of an eye, following her speech on the same day, her account was bombarded by waves of trolls and bullies slut shaming her with crude references to her past scandal in 1998. Still not pro Monica? Check the following statistics.
oohh stfu Monica Lewinsky there are consequences when you diddle with married men. you don’t get to claim “1st victim of Internet bullying”
— Criminelle Law (@CriminelleLaw) October 21, 2014
When it comes to recent statistics related to cyber bullying deaths, Monica Said “Of the cyberbullying related suicides in the last decade, 43% have occurred since Tyler sadly jumped from that bridge (2010). And that’s not even including stats for last year (2013). Among young Facebook users, close to 54% say they’ve been cyberbullied. One in 5 (college students) report being victims of cyberbullying; 1 in 4 for young women.”
Agree with what Monica Lewinsky did or didn’t do in the years between 1995 and 1998, that is your call. But you need to support what she is trying to do so that no one suffers the sense of alienation and shaming that she has. We don’t want another cyber bullying related suicide on our hands because as Monica put it “It takes a lifetime to build a good reputation but you can lose it in a minute. That’s never been more true than today.”
Monica Lewinsky just received a standing ovation at #Under30Summit. Obama can’t even fill a room for a campaign stop… in MARYLAND.
— Lauren Luxenburg (@LaurenC_Lux) October 20, 2014
“But having survived myself, what I want to do now is help other victims of the shame game survive too. I want to put my suffering to good use and give purpose to my past.” Who are we to disagree, let’s put the past to the past and help today’s generation live shame free.