Monica Lewinsky has stated that she still experiences “trauma” in response to the backlash she has experienced since her 90’s affair with then-President Bill Clinton.
“Despite the amount of trauma work I’ve done for the past 20 years, there’s still a pattern that gets tapped into or triggered,” Lewinsky told InStyle on Tuesday.
The so-called Lewinsky affair has been resurfacing in media lately, though under a banner of a different name this time: #MeToo. In recent interviews on his book tour for new mystery novel “The President Is Missing,” the former President has been dogged by questions about the way he handled his relationship with Monica Lewinsky when she interned for his White House.
In one particularly charged interview, Clinton admitted that he has never directly apologized to Lewinsky for the international condemnation, blame and cyberbullying that Lewinsky is still dealing with two decades later. Rather, he feels that he has “apologized to everybody in the world.” That, he suggests, is sufficient.
“But you didn’t apologize to her [Lewinsky]?” -@craigmelvin
“I have not talked to her.” –Bill Clinton
“Do you feel that you owe her an apology?” –Melvin
“No. I have never talked to her, but I did say publicly on more than one occasion that I was sorry.” -Clinton pic.twitter.com/dVAb0OycIa— TODAY (@TODAYshow) June 4, 2018
In response to this outbursts and other comments about her on the book tour, Lewinsky has vocalized the sentiment that her “trauma” is triggered by comments such as this, and that over 20 years later, she still feels vulnerable and ridiculed every time the scandal is brought up. She says she turns to psychology techniques and, when necessary, Xanax, to deal with the stress.
It’s an inevitable reality that whatever Bill Clinton does relates back to the notorious story of his affair with White House intern. The real question is why he thought the topic would not be revived on his book tour, given the popularity of the #MeToo campaign.
During the immediate years following the scandal, the whole world seemed to blame the then-22-year-old Lewinsky for seducing the president, a married man and key public figure. But in recent years, perception has shifted in some quarters. This polarizing shift parallels the growing #MeToo campaign. New Lewinsky supporters seem to feel that in hindsight the issue was one of sexual manipulation and playing on female vulnerability in the face of a society that still has patriarchal control.
The topic of Lewinsky’s personal experiences of trauma are overtly addressed in her 2015 TED Talk, “Monica Lewinsky: The price of shame”, where she reveals the elevated experiences of self-hatred and blame that she was made to feel as a result of the scandal. We don’t doubt that the issues of wrongful blame in this scandal will continue to be discussed amidst the conversation manipulation in the workplace.
_Nicola Lewis is a summer intern at the Forward, writing for the lifestyle section. You can reach her at Lewis@forward.com _