Yesterday, Monica Lewinsky came into my home and made me cry. “That woman” reduced me to a crying mess as I prepared dinner for my family.
If you do not know Monica Lewinsky, she was the 22-years old graduate and Intern who fell for Bill Clinton. But, without me going into details of the scandal especially the semen-stained dress, Monica publicly paid for falling inappropriately for Mr President.
What Miss Lewinsky and Mr Clinton got up to was made public by her so-called friend who secretly recorded their conversation about the affair. The recorded conversation was handed over to a lawyer and voilà, we all knew what they were getting up to in the White House.
Not related to this but do you know what happened to that friend? If you do, Please let me know.
Anyway, after the scandal broke on-line instead of the more traditional route; Monica went into hiding but she was never forgotten as the “slut” who tried to bring an institution down. Mr Clinton, on the other hand was impeached but acquitted.
So yesterday, as Monica shared the pain of her shame with me, I stepped into her shoes and felt her pain with her. This pain made me very sad. I wept hard. And by the way, she was only 22-years old when she had to deal with all of this mess.
The empathy I felt for Monica made me cry so loudly, my husband and children ran into the kitchen to find out what was going on. I could not answer their questions immediately; I just pointed at the little screen sitting on my kitchen worktop and said “why”.
I was asking why we all treated Monica so badly. Why didn’t we all stand up for her? Why did she pay so heavily for her mistake? She was only in her early 20s- we all make mistakes at that age. An age where we don’t even know ourselves.
After a few minutes of composing myself, I was ready to listen to her again. But she had stopped talking about her ordeal of over 15-years ago, she was now preaching about the empathy deficit we are suffering from.A pitfall of social media. She further explained that the empathy deficit has now contributed to the growth of cyber bullying.
I could not help but watch, listen and connect with this person talking to me. This being,who was once known as ‘That Woman’. She wasn’t just talking to me alone, she was addressing the audience at her 2015 TED talk. (The price of shame)
The standing ovation after her talk made me cry even more. The effect of Monica’s story made me decide to empathise more and judge less.
I was 23 when Monica’s scandal broke in 1998 and without empathy; I judged her and threw stones at her since I liked Clinton. But, knowing what I know now, I should not have thrown those stones because I had no moral standing to throw them.
Thinking back to my 20s, like Monica, I made terrible mistakes too. I fell in love with the wrong men, made bad decisions about things, ran away from home and gave everyone around me hell. The difference between my mistakes and Monica’s is that Monica’s was public and mine private.
So for all the Monicas out there, I am sorry for shaming and not sympathising with you. And I do hope you can all forgive me for throwing stones at you.