Monica Lewinsky was the original victim of online bullying, since Drudge Report blasted her affair with President Clinton across the internet. In recent years, she’s given TED Talks and written articles about what she’s learned and how she’s coped, and transformed herself from a punchline to an advocate for anti-bullying initiatives. Today, in an interview with the Guardian, she discussed at length her feelings about the backlash that descended on her, and who should be held responsible for online harassment.
Anyone who has been female on the internet knows that, just by virtue of their gender, they’re in for a greater than average share of harassment and negative attention. But Lewinsky reminded her interviewer that it wasn’t just anonymous Internet men who are tearing folks down. “A lot of vicious things that happen online to women and minorities do happen at the hands of men,” she told the Guardian. “but they also happen at the hands of women. Women are not immune to misogyny.”
She expanded on that thought, particularly on how she felt attacked on all sides during the Clinton scandal fallout, particularly by women. “I think it’s fair to say that whatever mistakes I made, I was hung out to dry by a lot of people — by a lot of the feminists who had loud voices,” Lewinsky shared. “I wish it had been handled differently. It was very scary and very confusing to be a young woman thrust on to the world stage and not belonging to any group. I didn’t belong to anybody.” But where almost anyone would be happy to see retribution rained down on their tormentors, Lewinsky also pushes for forbearance. She warns, “Don’t bully the bully. It doesn’t move the conversation forward.”