Monica Lewinsky says that she became reclusive during Hillary Rodham Clinton’s campaign for president in 2008 for fear that she would be used for political purposes, and that she feels “gun-shy” even now as Clinton considers another run in 2016.
Despite Lewinsky’s trepidation, she writes in a forthcoming edition of Vanity Fair that she now feels compelled to emerge from the shadows because, “Should I put my life on hold for another eight to 10 years?”
It is time, she writes, to stop “tiptoeing around my past, and other people’s futures. 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.”
She continues: “What this will cost me, I will soon find out.”
Lewinsky, now 40, broke her yearslong silence about her affair with President Bill Clinton in the article to appear in the May 8 edition of Vanity Fair.
In excerpts released by the magazine on Tuesday — which include a photograph of her wearing a white dress and lying casually on a sofa — Lewinsky sounds off about her regrets, her feelings of humiliation and the effect that the scandal has had on her career.
Indeed, Lewinsky writes that the scandal continues to affect her ability to pursue a career despite her master’s degree in social psychology from the London School of Economics, because employers do not want to attract the attention of the news media. But she says she has turned down eight-figure offers to exploit her celebrity status because “they didn’t feel like the right thing to do.”
She writes that she regrets her affair with Clinton, but says the popular view that the president pressured her into it is wrong.
“Sure, my boss took advantage of me,” she writes, “but I will always remain firm on this point: It was a consensual relationship. Any ‘abuse’ came in the aftermath, when I was made a scapegoat in order to protect his powerful position.”
Lewinsky writes that she was compelled to break her silence by the story of Tyler Clementi, a gay Rutgers University student who jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge in 2010 after his roommate set up a webcam to record him in an encounter with another man, inviting Twitter followers to watch.
The story brought Lewinsky’s mother back to 1998 and left her distraught, she says. “She was replaying those weeks when she stayed by my bed, night after night, because I, too, was suicidal,” Lewinsky writes. “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.”
The full 4,300-word essay, taking up 6 1/2 pages in the magazine, will be released on Thursday.