TW: Sexual Harassment/Assault, Mental Health
Below you will find a letter I wrote to Monica Lewinsky. I have been wanting to share it for awhile. My name is Monica too and not until recently have I reconsidered some of the feelings I had toward my name and the information we were given in 1998. I will not be going back over that information because you clearly have the internet. I was given a wish-list of guests for my podcast and Monica Lewinsky was the ultimate guest for me, so that I could apologize. Her representation politely declined and I understand why, as the theme of the podcast is sharing your worst ideas and if you’re Monica Lewinsky that seems like a trap. That was not my intention, it was simply to say these things:
Dear Ms. Monica Lewinsky,
Hey. What’s up?
My name is Monica, too. I was born in 1990 and over the past few years I have been wanting to write you this letter, or something like it, to apologize. Not for my being born but for my behavior and misunderstanding. I was eight when the whole thing went down in 1998. I was told it was your fault. We were all told it was all your fault and made to believe that things like that never happened.
What???? Cheating?!? Where? Dating your boss??? NEVER!
Meanwhile, my mother was my father’s boss. I literally do not exist if that hasn’t happened AT LEAST one other time.
Then the name, I love my name. I spent years after this introducing myself where, despite the popularity of Friends at the time, the only response was “Monica? Like Monica Lewinsky?” That made me so mad and I would respond with snark like “No, like any other Monica ever.” I know now that I didn’t know what I was saying then. I also rarely know what I’m saying now.
We were told it was all your fault, shown you as evil or naughty, in order to protect a dude in power. This would later become a dominating pattern in my life. Blame the subordinate person to protect the more powerful one. I didn’t know what I was saying, I was eight. Plus, it would be more than a FULL YEAR before I was sexually harassed or abused as a woman myself. Nine-year-old Monica may have seen things differently.
Then it stopped coming up, people forgot, at least on a daily basis. So I didn’t think about you and I’m sorry for that too. I saw your TED Talk, “The Price of Shame”, in 2016 and have really wanted to apologize since then. I saw you on John Oliver in 2019 as well and I’m embarrassed that I didn’t think about the situation differently until my later 20’s. So here it goes:
I’m so sorry that we only blamed you. I’m sorry for the blame, shame and disbelief. I’m sorry that we didn’t just understand. I’m sorry that I would get embarrassed or angry when someone would notice we have the same name. I’m sorry that these things happened to you.
You talked about being patient zero for cyberbullying and I agree 100%. We didn’t know what that meant or the unrelenting torture it causes. I wish we listened then, maybe we’d be farther ahead of it and better equipped to protect young people now.
I’m sorry for how all these things happened and the aftermath. I am not sorry that I have eventually grown enough to see another side. I feel like I have always had some understanding of it because I have been doing stand-up comedy for over 10 years and never once made a joke about it or you. Maybe that was fear of drawing attention back to it or that it would be hacky (cause it is and I’m not an old man).
I’m so happy you made it through that, no matter how long it would take. Anyone who can make it through hell, when it feels like giving up is the best option, is incredibly strong. You being here, speaking about it, giving a voice to people, is huge. As much as I wanted to apologize to you, I also want to thank you. I’m so glad you are here and vocal and I can follow you on Twitter, you are hilarious.
I hope you feel that this changes people and helps so many women (even those not named Monica) and people going through something earth-shattering. Thank you for still being here. Thank you for sharing and I hope you accept my apology. You will forever have a ticket at will-call to all of my shows.
Monica. Yes, just like Lewinsky.
Thank you for reading. I would love for her to see it and appreciate you sharing it as I am tweeting it to her as well. If you have certain thoughts, disagreements or not-nice things to say please know that I do not care.