Twenty years after the infamous Starr investigation, Monica Lewinksy has another story to tell. The former White House intern has written another essay for Vanity Fair, reflecting on her relationship with then President Bill Clinton. The essay is titled: “Monica Lewinsky: Emerging from ‘The House of Gaslight’ in the age of #metoo”.
The now 44-year-old Lewinsky identifies herself as a social activist on Facebook, advocating for women who are victims of sexual harassment, cyberbullying and shaming. In the essay she writes about how other women sharing their stories in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations have helped Lewinsky begin coping with the outcome of her relationship with Clinton.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lewinsky ReAffirms Her Relationship With Clinton Was Consensual
Four years ago she wrote another essay for Vanity Fair where Lewinsky shared that her affair with Bill Clinton was “a consensual relationship.” Over the last two decades, Lewinsky has grown and learned from the incident. “I now see how problematic it was that the two of us even got to a place where there was a question of consent,” she wrote.
Lewinsky also explains how her coping mechanism has evolved since the scandal. “Now, at 44, I’m beginning (just beginning) to consider the implications of the power differentials that were so vast between a president and a White House intern.” Lewinsky currently believes the idea of consent for her “might well be rendered moot.”
2. She Says Her Freedom Was Threatened
Lewinsky reveals some details about what her life was like during the thick of the Starr investigation. Lewinsky writes that Starr’s staff: “had hustled me into a hotel room near the Pentagon and informed me that unless I cooperated with them I could face 27 years in prison.” She also wrote that her 24-year-old life was a “living hell”.
Those aggressive tactics help validate Lewinsky’s claim she was living in “The House of Gaslight”, in reference to the name of her essay. Merriam Webster defines “gaslight” as “to attempt to make (someone) believe that he or she is going insane” and “to describe manipulative behavior used to confuse people into thinking their reactions are so far off base that they’re crazy.”
Lewinsky also writes about how Starr “hounded and terrorized” her family. According to the essay, Starr threatened to prosecute Lewinsky’s mother, investigate her father’s medical practice and depose her aunt.
3. Lewinsky Randomly Bumped Into Kenneth Starr On Christmas Eve 2017
Perhaps the most unexpected and comedic part of Lewinsky’s most recent Vanity Fair essay was the reveal about her impromptu encounter with man who prosecuted her. It happened at a restaurant in Manhattan’s West Village on Christmas Eve of 2017. Lewinsky recognized Star from across the room and approached him. Before Lewinsky could finish her opening remark, the man said: “Let me introduce myself, I’m Ken Starr.”
According to Lewinsky, that was the first time she had met Starr. “I found myself shaking his hand even as I struggled to decipher the warmth he evinced,” Lewinsky wrote. Starr asked Lewinsky several times if she was “doing O.K.” Lewinsky described his demeanor as “creepy” and claims he kept touching her arm and elbow, which made Lewinsky feel “uncomfortable.” Lewinsky added she also introduced Starr to her family that night.
4. She Has Been Diagnosed With Post Stress Disorder
About midway through her essay to Vanity Fair, Lewinsky reveals she was diagnosed with PTSD “several years ago.” She says the ordeal is the result of having been “publicly outed and ostracized back then.” Lewinsky describes her trauma as “long, arduous, painful and expensive.”
Later in the essay, Lewinsky addressed the current #MeToo movement in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein allegations. She also advocates for the TIME’S UP Legal Defense Fund. A grassroots funding campaign which provides subsidized legal support to women and men who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace and while in pursuit of their careers. The GoFundMe page currently has over $21 million in donations.
Lewinsky finishes her essay by quoting a Mexican proverb: “They tried to bury us; they didn’t know we were seeds.” She then compares the buried women to mother nature, ending with he line: “Spring has finally sprung.”
5. Lewinsky Is Still Single
There is no mention of any romantic involvement in her most recent essay for Vanity Fair. However in 2015, she did reveal to PEOPLE Magazine that she was still looking for Mr. Right. “I’ve promised Barbara Walters a dance at my wedding so I hope to make good on that promise some day!” she told PEOPLE.
She is happy to be back in the public spotlight, advocating against cyberbullying, however she isn’t keen on sharing information about her dating life. “You can ask it, but I keep my personal life private. I think people have known enough about my romantic life for a lifetime,” she told PEOPLE.
There was no mention of Lewinsky’s current living situation in her most recent Vanity Fair essay. In the 2015 interview with PEOPLE, Lewinsky said she was living in New York City, but travels often to Los Angeles and London for work. She also said she has a “very full and fulfilling life.” Some of Lewinsky’s favorite activities include: going out to dinner, seeing a show, concert or movie and watching The Good Wife.
You can read more about Lewinsky’s public re-emergence here.