When I heard that Monica Lewinsky will speak in Westport on October 6 — as part of the Westport Arts Center’s bullying exhibition — my first thought was: “Huh?”
But that’s the whole idea. For nearly 20 years, she’s been defined by what happened between her and the President of the United States.
Lewinsky is no longer a 24-year-old intern. She’s a 42-year-old woman who spent 10 years in self-imposed silence (several of them outside the country).
Now she’s speaking out. She talks about a subject she knows too well: internet shaming.
Lewinsky has tried to move beyond her image as the young woman in a stained dress. She’s now a social activist, contributing editor to Vanity Fair — and ambassador to BystanderRevolution.com.
Lewinsky has first-hand knowledge of the “culture of humiliation.” She is an expert at the effects of cyberbullies. Anyone — and everyone — can become, like her, a target of the digital playground.
Her 2015 TED Talk — “The Price of Shame” — has been viewed millions of times. In it, she describes losing her reputation instantly — and globally — via the internet. “Public humiliation as a blood sport has to stop,” she says.
In Westport, Lewinsky will build on themes underlying the Arts Center’s exhibit. It examines the topic of bullying within a broad cultural context that considers how perceived imbalances of social, physical — or political — power can be abused to marginalize others.
Sadly, it seems just as relevant in 2016 as it was in 1998.
(Monica Lewinsky’s talk at the Westport Arts Center at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, October 6 includes a panel discussion. For more information or to purchase tickets, click here or call 203-222-7070.)