Monica speaks. Monica Lewinsky writes about the political scandal that nearly destroyed Bill Clinton's presidency and forever changed her own life in the June issue of Vanity Fair. "It's time to burn the beret and bury the blue dress," writes Lewinsky, now 40, of her infamous mid-90s White House affair with Clinton, now 67. "I, myself, deeply regret what happened between me and President Clinton. Let me say it again: I. Myself. Deeply. Regret. What. Happened."
Squashing any lingering rumors that the "Clintons paid me off" to keep quiet about the embarassing episode ("nothing could be further from the truth"), she writes: "I am determined to have a different ending to my story. 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. (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)"
Lewinsky takes pains in the story to insist that her sexual relationship with Clinton was "consensual." "Sure, my boss took advantage of me, but I will always remain firm on this point: it was a consensual relationship," she writes. "Any 'abuse' came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position," she explains.
Indeed, Lewinsky's assocation with the political scandal made her job prospects afterwards nearly impossible, she said. Turning down multi-million dollar offers ("they didn't feel like the right thing to do," she says), Lewinksy was rejected for various jobs in communications and branding due to her "history."
What moved Lewinsky to finally break her silence was the tragic death of Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University student, who took his own life in 2010 after being publicly humiliated. After hearing about Clementi's suicide, Lewinsky's mother was deeply affected. "She was reliving 1998" and the enormous scandal her daughter had endured. "The shame, the scorn, and the fear that had been thrown at her daughter left her afraid that I would take my own life—a fear that I would be literally humiliated to death," Lewinsky writes.
(Lewinsky struggled with suicidal thoughts after the scandal, she says, but she never attempted suicide.)
"Perhaps by sharing my story, I reasoned, I might be able to help others in their darkest moments of humiliation," she writes. "The question became: How do I find and give a purpose to my past?"
The June issue of Vanity Fair hits stands May 13, with the digital edition going live May 8.