Days after Monica Lewinsky tweeted about being invited – then uninvited – to an event after Bill Clinton was added to the speakers line-up, the notorious former White House intern is opening up about the social gaffe in an open letter published in Vanity Fair.
Lewinsky was invited to attend Town & Country‘s Philanthropy Summit in New York before organizers revealed the former U.S. President would be giving the opening remarks. With the magazine wanting to avoid a perceived social faux pas, Lewinsky tweeted her invite had been revoked.
Lewinsky, who is an anti-bullying activist, says being uninvited is familiar territory.
“I had been to this rodeo many times before – disinvited to professional and social events ‘to avoid any awkwardness’ or ‘to not anger certain people,’ after an organizer or a host had looked over the guest list and reconsidered my potential presence,” she writes.
“Let me be clear: given the fact that Bill Clinton was going to be on hand, I had no interest in watching his opening remarks. (I imagine the feeling was mutual.) Nor did I want to disrupt an event about promoting good works and social change by insisting on forcing an unwanted confrontation (not that we would have even encountered each other),” she continues.
Lewinsky writes it was a “privilege” to have been invited to the philanthropic event this year which focuses on social change, but once again, her past came roaring back.
“I secretly and gratefully recognized it as a modest marker of How Much My Life Has Changed,” she writes. “And yet, I’m sometimes reminded, like I was last Friday, of ways that it hasn’t – ways I’m still stuck in the cocoon of 1998.”
She continues to describe an alternative plan for her attendance, arriving after Clinton’s opening address and he had left the premises but was declined. Instead, Town & Country offered Lewinsky the chance to write an article for the magazine.
“My hosts wanted to put me in a position that made the event so unappealing that I would decline—and their social problem would be solved,” she says. “This time, I decided, screw it. It’s 2018, people. I stood up and called B.S. publicly.”
“What happened to me happens daily to millions of people in myriad ways—especially women. And, especially women who have been marginalized in society. Sometimes it’s just an innocent (though no less rude) faux pas, but it’s often a reflection of the more implicit pragmatics of control and politeness,” she says, comparing the play of power to “The Handmaid’s Tale”.
“There has been a generational shift in how society looks at power and influence and merit: who has it, and who deserves it. Particularly now, in the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up, members of the Establishment are being held to more accountable standards,” she writes, adding, “But at this moment in time, the notion that I would be so casually discarded seems backwards and patently absurd.”
Lewinsky declined the offer to write for Town & Country. The magazine apologized to her via Twitter.