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It included chapter and verse about my intimate sexual activities, along with transcripts of audiotapes that chronicled many of my private conversations. True, this wasn’t the first time I’d been stigmatized for my affair with Bill Clinton.
But never had I been so directly confronted, one-on-one, with such a crass characterization.
I looked straight at the smirking guy who had asked the question.
“You might be better poised to answer that.” After a pause, I added, “That’s probably cost me another year of therapy.”You could argue that in agreeing to participate in an HBO documentary called I had signed up to be shamed and publicly humiliated yet again.
After 10 years of self-imposed reticence, and now hoping to help victims of Internet shaming, she critiques the culture that put a 24-year-old through the wringer and calls out the feminists who joined the chorus. I was sitting on the stage of New York’s Cooper Union in the middle of taping a Q&A for an HBO documentary. The main reason I had agreed to participate in the program was not to rehash or revise the story line of Interngate but to try to shift the focus to meaningful issues.
Many troubling political and judicial questions had been brought to light by the investigation and impeachment of President Bill Clinton. People seemed indifferent to the deeper matters at hand, such as the erosion of private life in the public sphere, the balance of power and gender inequality in politics and media, and the erosion of legal protections to ensure that neither a parent nor a child should ever have to testify against each other.”“It’s hurtful and it’s insulting,” I said, attempting to gather my wits.
Meanwhile, I watched my friends’ lives move forward. In 2006, I graduated with a master’s in social psychology.
My master’s thesis examined social bias in the courtroom and was titled “In Search of the Impartial Juror: An Exploration of Pretrial Publicity and the Third Person Effect.” I liked to joke that I was trading the blue dress for blue stockings, and the degree provided new scaffolding to hang my life experiences on.
We may not have become a crueler society—although it sure feels as if we have—but the Internet has seismically shifted the tone of our interactions. Or, in the inescapable phrase of our 42nd president, “That Woman.”It may surprise you to learn that I’m actually a person.
In one promising job interview that took place during the run-up to the 2008 primary season, the conversation took an interesting turn. I’ve managed to get by (barely, at times) with my own projects, usually with start-ups that I have participated in, or with loans from friends and family.