Monday, April 18, 2016

More on Monica Lewinsky's The Price of Shame













Lewinsky leaves her lawyer’s office in 1998; she ‘came very close’ to suicide after being pilloried by the media. Photograph: Tony Gutierrez/AP
 
I mentioned in today’s post that I was among those in the Toastmasters audience who had viewed Monica Lewinsky’s 2015 TED talk on “The Price of Shame”.

I am going to dwell more on this subject matter because after listening to her sharing, I don't think she deserved the destructive vilification she had received. It is not as if the rest of society is so righteous and blameless. We too have our share of wrongdoings. Therefore, the spotlight on her was ferocious and cruel. 
 
We know now that  Lewinsky survived. And even better, she found her courage to tell her story – and in the process, breaking a cycle of invasive, abusive social behavior that was driven by mean-spirited trolls but in her case, it was shamelessly subsidized by the advertisers who buy space in websites and other media that thrive on public embarrassment.
 
Obviously it's a topic Lewinsky knows well, having been the first private figure to become a public lightning rod for mockery and scorn in the Internet age.
 
The former White House intern’s sexual relationship with President Bill Clinton in the 1990s led to a years-long nightmare for Lewinsky, who ultimately dropped out of the public eye for nearly two decades.
 
It is no exaggeration to say that Lewinsky was once among the twentieth century’s most humiliated people, ridiculed across the world. Now she’s a respected and perceptive anti-bullying advocate. She gives talks at Facebook, and at business conferences, on how to make the internet more compassionate. She helps out at anti-bullying organizations like Bystander Revolution, a site that offers video advice on what to do if you’re afraid to go to school, or if you’re a victim of cyberbullying.
 
The TED talk was her being the object of the first great internet shaming: “Overnight, I went from being a completely private figure to a publicly humiliated one worldwide. Granted, it was before social media, but people could still comment online, email stories, and, of course, email cruel jokes. I was branded as a tramp, tart, slut, whore, bimbo, and, of course, ‘that woman’. It was easy to forget that ‘that woman’ was dimensional, had a soul, and was once unbroken”.
 
Lewinsky’s talk was dazzling and now gets taught in schools alongside Nathaniel Hawthorn’s The Scarlet Letter. I can think of nobody I’d rather talk to about the minutiae of online bullying – who does it and why, the turmoil it can spark, and how to make things better. In other words, it was a call for compassion amid a culture of humiliation.
 
Back then, the world basically saw Lewinsky as the predator. Late-night talkshow hosts routinely made misogynistic jokes, with Jay Leno among the cruellest: “Monica Lewinsky has gained back all the weight she lost last year. [She’s] considering having her jaw wired shut but then, nah, she didn’t want to give up her sex life.” And so on.
 
In February 1998, the feminist writer Nancy Friday was asked by the New York Observer to speculate on Lewinsky’s future. “She can rent out her mouth,” she replied.
 
After watching and listening to the video on Saturday, I saw the other side of Lewinsky. The real her.
 
Lewinsky in one interview, had mentioned that her old LSE professor, Sandra Jovchelovitch had given her this advice: “She said to me, ‘Whenever power is involved, there always has to be a competing narrative. And you have no narrative.’ It was true. I had mistakenly thought that if I retreated from public life the narrative would dissipate. But instead it ran away from me even more.”
 
That was when Lewinsky realized she had to do something to de-objectify herself.
 
It was time to stick her head above the parapet, as she put it. Time to stop tiptoeing around her past, time to stop living a life of opprobrium and time to take back her narrative.
 
And as she said: “It's also not just about saving myself. Anyone who is suffering from shame and public humiliation needs to know one thing: You can survive it”.
 
On Sunday’s combative match between two Glaswegian teams, Celtic and Rangers – the former lost out to the latter and so, they missed making it to the Scottish Cup final with Hibernian.
 
The game was a relentless affair from the outset. And by the time, the final whistle was blown, it was a 2-2 draw.
 
Kenny Miller (16) fired in the opening goal, with Celtic replying through an Erik Sviatchenko header in the fiftieth minute. A long-range strike from Barrie McKay had Rangers in front on 96 minutes before Tom Rogic (106) swept home to set up a tense Hampden shootout. And Rangers won 5-4 on penalties.

 
 











In an EPL game, on the same day, an experimental Liverpool team recorded a third consecutive victory in all competitions – when they beat Bournemouth 2-1.
 
Jurgen Klopp had made 10 changes from Thursday's momentous Europa League win over Borussia Dortmund – and the mostly-inexperienced side gave their all.
 
However, it was two established first-team players who made the most telling contributions. Top scorer Firmino (41) opened the scoring from a rebound after Artur Boruc had saved Daniel Sturridge's audacious backheel, before the England striker (45+2) headed in Jordon Ibe's free-kick to score the second goal for Liverpool. Bournemouth rallied after the break but Joshua King's stoppage-time strike (90+3) came too late for a comeback.
 
Liverpool still have a slim hope of finishing in the top four but winning the Europa League is their likeliest route to Champions League qualification – and Klopp's selection on Sunday suggested he agreed.

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