Home / Inspira-torials / Monica Lewinsky Speaks On What It Was Like To Be Globally Slut Shamed, Hopes A Cultural Shift Comes Soon

Monica Lewinsky Speaks On What It Was Like To Be Globally Slut Shamed, Hopes A Cultural Shift Comes Soon

“At the age of 22, I fell in love with my boss. And at the age of 24, I learned the devastating consequences…Not a day goes by that I’m not reminded of my mistake, and I regret that mistake deeply.”

Nobody knows more about public shame and humiliation than Monica Lewinsky, and the 41-year-old former headline news subject has been speaking out more than ever about her ordeal in the late ’90s.

“I was patient zero of losing a personal reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously,” she told a packed audience in Vancouver, BC during a TED talk titled “The Price of Shame.”

“The attention and judgment I received — not the story — but that I personally received, was unprecedented. I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo.”

Highlighting the dire consequences of intruding on someone’s private life and making it public, Monica talks about a phone conversation between her and her mother about the 2012 suicide of Tyler Clementi. “Tyler was secretly webcammed by his roommate while being intimate with another man,” she tells the audience. “When the online world learned of this incident, the ridicule and cyberbullying ignited. A few days later, Tyler jumped from the George Washington Bridge to his death. He was eighteen.”

But what struck Monica was her mother’s reaction to the heartbreaking story. “My mom was beside herself about what happened to Tyler and his family, and she was gutted with pain in a way that I just couldn’t quite understand. And then eventually I realized she was reliving 1998, reliving a time when she sat by my bed every night…a time when she made me shower with the bathroom door open…a time when both of my parents feared that I would be humiliated to death.”

It was Tyler’s story and a growing feeling that enough is enough that urged Monica to step willfully back into the public sphere to share her experience.

“Too many parents have learned of their child’s suffering and humiliation after it was too late…Tyler’s senseless tragic death was a turning point for me…and I then began to look at the world of humiliation and bullying around me and see something different.”

She points to research that cyberbullying has been on a steep incline, and that, “humiliation [is] a more intensely felt emotion than either happiness or even anger.”

“What we need is a cultural revolution — public shaming as a bloodsport has to stop, and it’s time for an intervention on the internet and our culture.”

She calls for a return to compassion and empathy on and offline, and finishes by telling those who suffer from ridicule that they “can insist on a different ending to [their] story.”

Watch the full TED talk below:

About shakespeareanwalter

Walt Shakes(@Walt_Shakes) is an award-winning Nigerian writer, poet and veteran blogger. He is a lover of the written word. the faint whiff of nature, the flashing vista of movies, the warmth of companionship and the happy sound of laughter.

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  1. “Insist on a different ending to your story”
    That right there, speaks volumes.

  2. As Piers Morgan said in his daily mail article about this, ‘right message but wrong messenger’.

    • shakespeareanwalter

      Come on.
      So you’re of the school of thought that those who should bring goodwill messages must be unblemished?

    • Who is piers Morgan to talk? Really, he is without blemish?? A woman who was slut shamed by the whole world, speaking out against cyber bullying and Mr. Morgan is saying wrong messenger? Really? If the devil says we should stop killing people, would we continue just because we feel he is the wrong messenger?

  3. When I first read the “headline”.. my first thought was “woman! give it a break!”.. When I read the story, I saw she had a ‘lesson’ to pass across.. I cant even imagine what she and her family must have gone through back then (I remember the whole ‘sensationality’ of her story back then as a child). I’m glad she is finding/has found her feet (yea! some people may still be of the opinion of ‘she deserved what she got’); but lets not forget the saying of Jesus.. “he who is without sin should cast the (first) stone”. God help us all! #never.judge.a.book.by.its.cover!

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