OK, I cringed when I saw the New York Post headline, too: My Life Sucks! plastered in about a 5,000-point font with Monica Lewinsky’s face right beside it. From a “selling newspapers” perspective, the headline is brilliant. From a human perspective, it’s just tacky.
My immediate reaction was that Monica’s re-emergence after all these years was surely a feevil (yes, feevil — I just made that word up: feeble + evil = feevil) Republican plot to smear Hillary before her lead in the 2016 presidential race becomes insurmountable … an insurance policy, just in case the Republicans run the Benghazi disaster threadbare before we even hit the primaries.
But, turns out, I was wrong.
(Yes, mark that down.)
Monica did her essay for Vanity Fair last week of her own free will — not because someone set her up to do it. Excerpts from the story and commentary are available on the Vanity Fair website, and the print magazine is on the stands.
Turns out, Monica, who is now 40, is trying to get past the demons that have haunted her during the past 16 years, and reclaim her own life and self-respect. She wants closure, in other words.
Ladies who are, or have turned, 40 — you know that point in your life where you stop and re-evaluate everything you’ve done so far, and realize that life is preciously finite and you’re about halfway through it, and if you don’t make some changes right now, your life’s trajectory is going to shoot out into the weeds? That golden “there’s still time to change the path you’re on” epiphany? Monica’s there.
Sister, we share your angst. And your sense of urgency. And hopefully, bravery. Yes, bravery. It took a lot of guts to risk resurrecting yet another round of ridicule.
I admire her strategy — a thoughtful essay, rather than a stint on “Dancing With The Stars.” (Because you know she’d have worn a blue dress.)
So, OK, I get it. You have to get all the pus out of the wound before it will heal. Good for her, then. You have to take ownership of your own mental health. And sure, I’ll read her essay, because I’m curious. Monica’s a legitimate historical figure … blamed for bringing down a U.S. president. Key word: “blamed.”
It wasn’t Monica’s transgression. Bill Clinton was the one who strayed, the one who was married, the one who did not have sex with That Woman.
Monica was merely a stupid, star-struck, crazy in love 22-year-old, who thought a powerful, sexy man was in love with her when, in fact, she was being used for his personal gratification. Ladies, again: Who among us has never been crazy in love in their 20s and made some spectacularly bad decisions? (Funny side note: I got married at 22 for the first time. This pot ain’t callin’ that kettle black.)
Many, many of us have been deceived and had our tender little hearts torn to pieces, and we can relate to Monica’s situation. “But I thought he loved me” we whimper, and weep into a tissue, while a kind friend puts an arm over our shoulder and reminds us what a jerk that guy was. But it didn’t quite work out that way for Monica, did it. Her kind “friend,” Linda Tripp, soaked up every detail about her affair with Bill, and sprayed it all over the media.
And then all hell broke loose.
Remember the Starr Report?
Yeah. Sorry to bring that up again. I was tired of hearing about it, too, 16 years ago. It’s like any Foreigner song from the 1970s. I don’t need to hear any of them ever again.
I imagined that since the last time Monica appeared in the public eye, we’d all have grown up a bit, softened up some, realized that she was swept up in the political maelstrom and, in the end, was essentially an innocent victim, not the Devil in a Blue Dress who tanked the Clinton presidency. But no. I’m astounded to discover the level of vitriol for Monica Lewinsky.
Some call it “slut-shaming” — when a woman is verbally cannibalized for her sexual activity, while men are typically applauded for the exact same behavior. I call it good old-fashioned “bullying.”
A Facebook thread ignited after someone posted the Post cover and commented something along the lines of “I don’t care what this gold digger had to say — go away.” And that was one of the nicer comments. What followed were snippets of vicious hatred, disdain and judgment.
Well, I couldn’t just let that slip by, now could I.
I started pointing to the facts of the Lewinksy/Clinton affair. For starters, she was just a kid, relatively speaking. And, Monica wasn’t the one who violated her marriage vows. That was Bill. The blame for the situation falls squarely on him. Even if she flirted with him, he’s the most powerful man in the world, for God’s sake. If he’s strong enough to stand up against ruthless foreign leaders, surely he’s strong enough to resist one sexy little gal in a beret.
And … don’t misunderstand me — I like Bill Clinton. Yes, I know that as far as husbands go, he’s a dirty dog, and yes, I’d vote for him tomorrow. I’m not really interested in how he gets his jollies in private. I’m more interested in how he runs the country, and life was good in the Clinton years. Do I want that back? Yes.
I’d also punch that sow Linda Tripp right in her fat neck.
As for Monica, I have nothing but forgiveness. I hope she cobbles her self-esteem, and her life, back together. I don’t hate Monica one bit.
OK, except maybe for one thing: After all these years, she looks fabulous.
— Email Debra DeAngelo at firstname.lastname@example.org; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com