I won’t be *that* woman…
A female comedian I like and follow posted a meme that really upset me. Usually I do nothing.
Because whatever, right? A Comedian’s aim is to get attention, get a laugh and get some hearts racing. I get that.
Except it’s not funny.
The joke was about Monica Lewinsky, that incident and of course tied down to the new potential Clinton presidency*.
So I did something that’s incredibly unlike me… I called her out on it.
Monica Lewinsky was humiliated and bullied and has been for the past 20+ years. With this new presidential election, it’s quickly made its way back to the internet. On social media of all places, hello new rounds of online humiliation (exhibit A on comedian’s Instagram).
So I called it for what it was:
Usually I’m all for dark humour and having a LOL at unfortunate situations with you <comedian’s name>. But I think this woman has been bullied enough.
“you know what, I think even she’d laugh at this. This is a funny joke, flat out funny. Let’s not start throwing the B word around willy nilly and let’s not take ourselves too seriously.”
Here’s why we should take it seriously.
Monica Lewinsky in her own words from her TED talk (which I recommend you watch before you comment):
“…My mom was beside herself about what happened to Tyler (Clementi) and his family, and she was gutted with pain in a way that I just couldn’t quite understand, and then eventually I realised she was reliving 1998, reliving a time when she sat by my bed every night, reliving a time when she made me shower with the bathroom door open, and reliving a time when both of my parents feared that I would be humiliated to death, literally.”
You know why this comedian reacted that way?
Because the B word is fucking uncomfortable.
So it should be.
Because we’ve all been there.
I’m willing to bet that mostly all women have been bullied… by another woman. And there’s not one woman standing here reading this today that can’t say they haven’t been the aggressor, shared the joke or passed on the gossip, or not been that person themselves.
Because we all have.
There are over 64 comments and over 700+ likes (currently) from (predominantly) women laughing at this Monica Lewinsky meme.
Quite likely not realising that this woman’s mother asked her to shower with the door open in the hopes that she could stop her from killing herself.
And I say “quite likely” because the person who knows that and still laughs is dead in the soul.
I’m not laughing.
And you shouldn’t be either.
Let’s get clear here: Monica Lewinsky’s biggest mistake was falling in love with her boss. She was 22.
I don’t know about you, but I have done some really dumb shit in my early twenties, hell I continue to do dumb shit now.
Fortunately for me, I don’t have to relive my dumbest mistakes as a twenty year old over and over again.
There are no rap songs written about me, there are no memes, there are no hurtful jokes and there are no endless comments laughing at my most shameful and darkest moments.
Bill Clinton was not 22.
She will never be forgotten for being that woman.
But he still gets to sit at tables with the most influential. And now that he may be back as Mr First Lady — that round of humiliation returns for Monica Lewinsky. But not (so much) for Bill.
As women, we can’t possible be all RA RA about equality and throw cheap laughs at each other’s worst moments. That’s bullshit.
The reason we’re not equal? Because we are each other’s worst enemies.
We exclude, we laugh, we point and we gossip each other down.
Sure the “men’s club bla bla bla”.
We’ll never have a girls club that doesn’t come at the expense of another woman.
So fuck no. I won’t be that woman. I’m not staying quiet anymore.
Monica Lewinsky was bullied and thank God she had the strength to weather all the fucking storms.
Even those storms that are thinking of rising 20 years later.
Is it “flat out funny”?
Is it serious?
Don’t believe me?
Watch her TED talk.
Read her book.
We nearly killed that woman by clicking on those articles, by sharing and laughing at those posts.
I’ll be fucking damned if I stay quiet to let one more person take their own life because some asshole thought that sharing their worst moment was funny.
Not just to her.
But most importantly, I will not let that happen to another woman.
If you’re a woman and this makes you uncomfortable.
It’s the only way we’re ever going to change this behaviour of us being our own worst enemies.
As for that comedian. I won’t name and shame her.
That’s exactly everything I’m against.
My real disappointment comes from the fact that it goes against the reason why I admire her. She talks about real issues and puts her heart on her sleeve and vulnerability in her shows. She’s also an ambassador for Beyond Blue (the national initiative to raise awareness of anxiety and depression).
I hope she takes that post down.
There are over 3 million people with anxiety and depression in Australia.
And I’m willing to bet my left foot that some of that has once stemmed from bullying, I’ll throw in the right one to say it’s may also have come from online shaming.
I’ve sat here for a few hours and asked myself: Would Monica Lewinsky think this was “flat out funny”?
After watching her TED talk, I don’t think so…
We talk a lot about our right to freedom of expression, but we need to talk more about our responsibility to freedom of expression. We all want to be heard, but let’s acknowledge the difference between speaking up with intention and speaking up for attention — Monica Lewinsky
*I won’t share that meme or that name of that comedian. I’m not that woman.