It may have happened 16 years ago, but Monica Lewinksy will forever be known as the younger woman who had an illicit affair with U.S. President Bill Clinton. At the time their affair went public, Clinton was 51 and Lewinsky was only 24. The scandal rocked the country and resulted in extreme media scrutiny over Monica Lewinksy’s every move.
The affair scandal turned the younger woman into an overnight celebrity—she was offered an endorsement deal, developed her own handbag line, did high-profile interviews, made several TV appearances, and even briefly hosted a reality TV series before making the conscious effort to live a private life out of the spotlight.
After almost a decade of silence, Monica Lewinsky has opened up about the scandal in an effort to clear her name, move on with her life, and hopefully even make a difference. In a revealing essay for Vanity Fair, Lewinsky admitted that she still does “deeply regret” the affair with Bill Clinton, but that it’s time to “burn the beret and bury the blue dress,” obviously referring to the infamous blue dress stained with Bill Clinton’s semen that surfaced as the scandal unfolded.
“I’ve decided, finally, to stick my head above the parapet so that I can take back my narrative and give a purpose to my past,” wrote Monica Lewinsky, adding that she’s now planning on using the scandal to work with “efforts on behalf of victims of online humiliation and harassment,” since her tainted reputation and humiliation was “driven by the Internet.” She said that her decision to come out of hiding and speak up was sparked by a teenager who committed suicide after he was secretly taped locking lips with a man. On a side note, Monica Lewinsky’s conversations with colleague Linda Tripp about the affair were also secretly recorded.
Monica Lewinsky also made some shocking claims about the nature of her affair with Bill Clinton. “Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship,” she wrote. However, she does believe that she was purposely made out to be the scapegoat in the affair scandal in order to protect Bill Clinton and his position of power.
“The Clinton administration, the special prosecutor’s minions, the political operatives on both sides of the aisle, and the media were able to brand me,” said Monica Lewinsky. “And that brand stuck, in part because it was imbued with power.”
Unfortunately, being branded as Bill Clinton’s illicit mistress is something Monica Lewinsky is still haunted by today. “I was never ‘quite right’ for the position,” she said about her struggle to find a job after the affair scandal, adding that even if she was offered a position, it was only because she would garner press attention.
Toomey, A., “Monica Lewinsky Says Affair With Bill Clinton Was ‘Consensual’: I ‘Deeply Regret What Happened,’” E! News web site, May 6, 2014; http://goo.gl/8gXl4u.