Monica Lewinsky made a rare public appearance Thursday at a TED talk to discuss her scandalous past in an attempt to promote her fight against cyber-bullying. The 41-year-old announced her campaign to end online bullying at a Forbes Under 30 summit in Philadelphia last year. It was the first time the public had seen the former White House intern after she stayed out of the spotlight for over a decade.
Her appearance back in the public eye came with some criticism, as people believed it was for political reasons. But Monica defended herself saying, "It is time to stop tip-toeing around my past." She then went on to openly discuss the humiliation she faced after her sex scandal involving former President Bill Clinton in 1998.
She talked about being 22 years old when she fell in love with the President, and, of course, the media storm that followed after their relationship was made public. The scandal took on a new form with the internet boom. "This scandal was brought to you by the digital revolution," Monica said. "This rush to judgment enabled by technology led to mobs of virtual stone throwers. I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo, and, of course, 'that woman'."
Aside from her own involvement with being criticized on the internet, Monica was motivated to start her campaign after hearing about the 2010 suicide of an 18-year-old New Jersey freshman who was bullied online after being secretly filmed kissing another man.
"The landscape has become much more populated with incidents like mine, and now it is for public and private people," she said. "Millions of people, often anonymously, can stab you with their words. And that is a lot of pain."
She also brought up the numerous photo and information leaks of politicians and celebrities, discussing how the public is actively consuming it. "A marketplace has emerged when public humiliation is a commodity and shame is an industry," Monica said. "The more shame, the more clicks. The more clicks, the more advertising dollars." She urged an end to "shaming as a blood sport" and added, "Imagine walking a mile in someone else's headline."
After news of the affair broke, Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives in December 1998 but was acquitted. His wife Hillary, a former Secretary of State widely tipped to run for president in 2016, says she has "moved on" from the scandal.