My initial reaction to Monica Lewinksy crawling from whatever rock she had been vacationing under to pen an essay for Vanity Fair had a nice little melody to it. Sing-along with me, y’all: “Give it up. Give it up, turn it loose. Oh, if it don’t want ‘cha, you don’t need ‘em, girl, yeah.”
And when it comes it the infamous former White House intern, one can’t help but have the knee-jerk opinion that she goes in the pile of other things from the 1990s we left behind: Portrait, Shai, DeVante’s better senses, and our Foxy Brown’s best days (still love you, though, Inga).
It didn’t help matters when I found out Monica committed one of the seven deadly sins (in my preferred faith anyway): trying to come for and correct The Beyoncé Giselle Knowles Carter. In the excerpts from the now released (to digital subscribers) essay, Lewinksy says, “Thanks, Beyoncé, but if we’re verbing, I think you meant ‘Bill Clinton’d all on my gown,’ not ‘Monica Lewinsky’d.’”
Say, lil’ Lewinsky, you don’t correct the King. You let her say whatever she wants. Like, when I hear Beyoncé say, “Now I see how belittled you got me,” I just sing the lyric and body roll per instruction. As a founding member of The Beygency, I can attest to its authenticity.
Her grave mistakes aside, with greater reflection on the gist of Monica Lewinsky’s essay comes the following conclusion: She has every right to speak her piece no matter how late it may seem. And to be fair to her, her piece is a lot more truthful than maybe most care to admit.
Citing the death of Tyler Clementi, the 18-year-old Rutgers freshman who committed suicide in 2010 after finding out he was secretly streamed via Webcam kissing another man, Lewinsky said both she and her mother were brought to tears. As she writes on her mom, “She was reliving 1998, when she wouldn’t let me out of her sight. She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal. The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death.”
Though she is quick to make it clear that by no means had she ever attempted to commit suicide, she acknowledges that she had strong temptations to during the more pressing matters of that 1990s sex scandal. As someone who has experienced suicidal thoughts in a similar manner, regardless as to whether or not you ever truly made the attempt to take your own life, the constant thoughts to speak to a deep-seated depression that carries on with you for some time.
And in the case of Monica Lewinsky, while she is certainly responsible for the consequences that came with her actions, ask yourself this: Should a mistake you made at the age of 24 taint your entire life?
Just this week, Wendy Williams went on and on and on about how much of a “slut” she was along with how unworthy of sympathy she is. Sure, she spoke of the double standards as it relates to how former President Clinton is treated as opposed to Monica, but she berated her with the same sort of venom your typical sexist has towards women. Lewinsky is the one worthy of nasty glares if seen outside, but Slick Willie is just oh-so-charming despite being the bigger “slut” by comparisons.
We continue to punish women for being sexual, but not men. Just look at a recent event called “Choose Purity” that was co-sponsored by the Las Vegas Police Department. Their message was clear: Scare young women into chastity by telling them premarital sex can lead to prostitution, entering the sex trade, or ending strung out on drugs. First off, most women who have premarital sex don’t end up a strung out on heroin sex slave in some foreign country, but even if they did, why is the culpability placed squarely on the “promiscuous” girl and the not the shady men behind the exploitation.
We ought to better to women – that includes some of you women, too.
Not to mention, Lewinsky is damn right when she argues “thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet.”
Therein lies what makes her commentary very much contemporary.
We live at a time now where a bunch of miserable people can hide behind anonymity and be as nasty and mean spirited as possible for their own twisted sense of entertainment. Not only is this common practice among the pathetic and cruel, it’s a business model for many online media outlets. It pays to be nasty and the vilification of people yields huge profits.
Monica Lewinsky was the first of this new wave and it’s a shame that now even non-celebrities who don’t sleep with powerful public figures are just as susceptible to this level of evil. This is especially true when you engage in sexual activity not deemed “appropriate.”
The 40-year-old claims her current goal “is to get involved with efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment and to start speaking on this topic in public forums.”
You may not want to hear this message from someone like her—or someone who did the things she did nearly twenty years ago—but that doesn’t make her criticism any less valid.