How many young girls aged 20, 21 and 22, believe YOLO is the way to go and feel that there’s no way anything they do today can have any lasting effect on their lives beyond the age of maybe, 25?
YOLO is a lie – you live everyday – you die once - and if your name is Monica Lewinsky, you make a mistake once at the age of 21 and everyday wake up and wish you had never lived that day – not even once.
After over a decade of being quiet and getting on with her life, Ms. Lewinsky is back in the news and on the pages of Vanity Fair, no less. Is there a reason she’s showing up now as Hillary Clinton prepares to make a bid for the US presidency – I don’t know. What I do know, is that for a girl who got wowed by the magic of power and having a sitting US President take notice of her at 21 years of age – I don’t believe she ever expected it to go this way.
I write this so that you may discuss it with your kid sister, your daughter and even your girlfriends. Did you know that It is still almost impossible for Monica to get a job even today. In a world where young girls can’t seem to get over the allure of money, political power and the “good” life, it seems important at this point to remember that Olivia Pope is make believe, while reality looks a lot like Monica Lewinsky.
Why you scream? Well, because there is still this many years after the advent of the smart phone, a lingering double standard in how women in sex scandals are viewed.
So while some people may ask why Lewinsky won’t just go away, we have to be fair and appreciate that she has to contend with two extremely powerful people (Hillary and Bill) who won’t go away either, forever keeping her name in the public consciousness.
In her defense, Monica has tried to get on with life, finish school and even get a regular job – but to say she has had a tough time would be an under statement.
Her very appearance in offices makes job interviewers cringe from their proximity to Lewinsky’s shame. It is reported that one interviewer told her that she was “bright and affable” but that in order to work at a job that required courting government grants, “We would first need a Letter of Indemnification from the Clintons. After all, there is a 25 percent chance that Mrs Clinton will be the next president.”
Eventually, she came to accept that “traditional employment might not be an option for me”; instead, she turned to launching media projects and stalled startups; she relied on handouts from family and friends.
The only reason I feel it’s important to re-look her story this many years later is because it teaches us all a very important lesson in the balance of power and gender inequality in politics and media. It doesn’t matter how far we’ve come in a decade, the world still gives the man in power a hi-five and casts a mean eye at the girl in the midst of the storm, no matter how young and naïve she may have been. The fact that the man in question is older, wiser and maybe more responsible, is usually ignored.
The difference once again is shown in the ability to tell the story, own it and get past it. In 2004 Bill Clinton told CBS news, “I did something for the worst possible reason — just because I could,” he said. “I think that’s just about the most morally indefensible reason anybody could have for doing anything.”
By saying that and giving that interview, Bill Clinton told his side and by doing so put it behind him. Not so for Monica. Lewinsky, by her own admission, has had plenty of opportunities in business and otherwise to write her own story and navigate a new course for her life. She has mostly chosen not to. Well, until now.
I tell this story for two major reasons: that we may learn and understand that in there is an imbalance of power in the game of love and sex and especially in the political sphere. Given that one can’t wish that fact away, how do you navigate these waters you find yourself in such a storm? Secondly, it’s important to own your story. At 21, Monica didn’t know how to or if she could at all.
However, my biggest lesson from Miss Lewinsky is this – don’t kid yourself that the decisions/mistakes you make in your early twenties will not or cannot haunt you for years to come. YOLO is a lie. You live everyday and maybe that decision you make in the heat of the moment believing that you live only once, could be what kills you a little everyday for the rest of your life.