If you were too young to know exactly what was going on when the Monica Lewinsky incident unraveled in 1998, you probably learned what the word "scandal" meant that year. Discussion of former President Clinton's "inappropriate relationship," as Clinton described it, with the former White House intern quickly moved from within the confines of the White House into the living rooms of Americans, and just about every detail of Lewinsky's life became common knowledge among the public, as well as a target for harsh criticism. But where is Monica Lewinsky now? More than 15 years after America got to know the woman through her alleged sexual misdeeds, Lewinsky is a self-ascribed social activist fighting against public shaming.
After more than a decade of silence, Lewinsky took the spotlight back on her own terms in 2014 with a personal essay in June's issue of Vanity Fair, describing the torturous consequences of having her sexual activities examined by the public eye. Her intimate relationship with the former President had resulted in a four-year investigation into the Clinton Administration by Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, calls for Clinton's impeachment, and Lewinsky being donned "America's premier blow-job queen."
In her writing, Lewinsky explained that her newfound mission was to bring to an end the kind of public humiliation she faced while enduring investigation into the scandal and her private life. The moment that led to her decision to speak out after so long? Lewinsky said that after hearing news of Tyler Clementi's suicide in 2010 — Clementi's roommate had streamed the Rutgers University freshman kissing another man online — she and her mother relived some of their own horror. Lewinsky herself was no stranger to internet shaming:
Thanks to the Drudge Report, I was also possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the internet.
Lewinsky, now 42, doesn't appear to be taking her new role lightly. She spoke of her campaign to build a less toxic social media environment at Forbes' 30 Under 30 summit in late 2014. This March, she presented a TED talk entitled "The Price of Shame"; the video has more than six million views. And in early December, Lewinsky spoke with Glamour about simple ways everyone can join the fight against online shaming and trolling. She's also an ambassador for anti-bullying organization Bystander Revolution.
With the rest of her time, Lewinsky lives one of those good ol' just-like-the-rest-of-us lives, filled with self-deprecating jokes and trips to cool places.
And, coincidentally, Lewinsky uses her Twitter to show everyone out there how to rep on social media with serious class.