From Vixen to Victim: How Vanity Fair Botched Its Monica Lewinsky Exclusive

It's not yet Throwback Thursday, but headlines have been dominated by a blast from the scandal-ridden past: Monica Lewinsky.

That's right, everyone's favorite Other Woman has spoken out for the first time in years for an exclusive Vanity Fair interview. And her revelations are, well....not very revelatory. Her affair with Bill was consensual! Politicians on both sides of the aisle were assholes in the aftermath of the affair! People offered her lots of money to sell her story, but she said no!

Duh, yep, yawn.

What is interesting is how Vanity Fair has framed the interview. The magazine has gone to great, even acrobatic lengths to present Monica as a pure and unfairly maligned victim fulfilling the final chapter of her poignant redemption story.

The headline sounds like a Lifetime television movie you shamefully find yourself watching on a rainy Sunday afternoon: "Shame and Survival." And the fluffy photo, of her splayed across a couch, smiling longingly in the distance while wearing a pseudo-wedding white dress, might as well be dreamily staged in a sunlit library (oh wait, it is).

It seems the media and public can only understand Lewinsky as one of two stereotypical tropes: vixen or victim. When she was caught up in the Clinton affair, she was a home-wrecking hussy. Now, she's a poor, weak woman in a pure white dress, just trying to survive.

What if (bear with us here) she's neither? As she said in the interview, her affair with Clinton was consensual, and we have no clue what went on behind those Oval Office doors. She's a woman who made certain choices, dealt with the consequences, and has now come out on the other side. This makes her, ultimately, pretty damn normal.

Then again, the vixen-to-victim narrative is so much juicier.

Image: Wikimedia Commons

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