Where Is Monica Lewinsky Now?

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where is Monica Lewinsky now

Everyone remembers when Monica Lewinsky became a household name. Former president Bill Clinton admitted to having an “inappropriate relationship” with the then-White House intern, between 1995 and 1996, though the scandal didn’t break until 1998.

At the time, the scandal dominated the news cycle for months, as a sitting president had never been accused of sexual misconduct. (Flashforward to 2019, and we have a sitting president accused by over 19 women of sexual assault and rape.)

Lewinsky admitted to having nine sexual encounters with Clinton, including oral sex, though the two never had intercourse. Clinton was later impeached, though he was acquitted and served the rest of his term. And though Clinton may have been able to salvage his relationship, Lewinsky experienced public trauma and shame, quickly becoming a celebrity.

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In a Vanity Fair essay, she reflected on how her time in the public eye changed her life:

“Yes, I had received many letters of support in 1998. And, yes (thank God!), I had my family and friends to support me. But by and large I had been alone. So. Very. Alone. Publicly Alone... abandoned most of all by the key figure in the crisis, who actually knew me well and intimately. That I had made mistakes, on that we can all agree. But swimming in that sea of Aloneness was terrifying. Isolation is such a powerful tool to the subjugator. And yet I don’t believe I would have felt so isolated had it all happened today."

But where is Monica Lewinsky now? After the scandal, she designed a line of handbags, was an advertising spokesperson for a diet plan, and became a television personality. However, she left her celebrity status to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

In 2014, she became a social activist against cyberbullying, which she was a victim of after the scandal, and called herself “patient zero.” Lewinsky says she was inspired to take action after the suicide of Tyler Clementi, who died after being cyberbullied. She’s since given talks and interviews about anti-bullying efforts.

And just recently, she came into the spotlight again. John Oliver had Lewinsky on his HBO show, discussing the power of public shaming, how to solve the issue, and how her situation may have been different if social media was around in the 1990s.

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Oliver highlighted the effects of public shaming and “the ethical grey areas of targeting a public versus a private citizen,” but also mentioned that shaming can be used to hold others accountable for their actions, particularly in the case of Tucker Carlson. Carlson is in the middle of a controversy concerning his misogynistic, racist, and homophobic comments.

“We make fun of people constantly on this show — it’s a comedy show,” Oliver said. “But for what it’s worth, we do think, probably more carefully than you might imagine, about who we’re making fun of, why we’re doing it and how. The punishment can be vastly proportionate to the offense. And perhaps the best example of this is Monica Lewinsky. Two decades ago, this country put her through hell. It is impossible to overstate just how globally famous Monica and public details of her life became.”

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In the pre-filmed segment featured on the show, the two discussed how public shaming affected her life. She said, “It’s exacerbated beyond what anybody could have imagined initially. The anonymity that comes with [the Internet], that sort of unleashed these whole new personas for people.”

Oliver asked her “how the f***” she got through it, and Lewinsky responded that she wasn’t sure. “It was a s***storm. It was an avalanche of pain and humiliation... At 24 years old, it was really hard to hold onto a shred of dignity or self-esteem when you’re the butt of so many jokes and being misunderstood... Part of my vanity now comes from just the wound of having been made fun of for my weight, for people saying I was unattractive. And it was terrifying... my identity was stolen in a different way,” she said.

At the end of the interview, Oliver asked what Lewinsky’s advice would be to anyone who is a victim of bullying and public shaming. “The first thing I’d probably say is that you can get through it. You can move past it. I know it feels like in this one moment that your life will forever be defined by this, but it won’t. And it may be hard, it may take more time than you ever could have imagined, but you can move past something like this.”

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Samantha Maffucci is an editor for YourTango who focuses on writing trending news and entertainment pieces. In her free time, you can find her obsessing about cats, wine, and all things Vanderpump Rules.