Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Pobrecita Monica (Or Not)

Okay, second Rebecca Traister plug today--

She writes an excellent article about Monica Lewinsky's failed attempts at redemption and success. And she says she's no longer sympathetic:

And so until now, I have rooted for Monica because she is just a girl -- like me, like Gwen Stefani, like the rest of us, who happened to use extraordinarily bad judgment and then paid a hefty price. The years following Monica's moist, fumbling gaffe were years that should have felt for her almost exactly like the rest of our aimless post-college years.

What if all our potential bosses never saw past our sexuality or took us seriously? What if our professional aims -- even when backed up by experience and ambition -- were ridiculed? What if we were made to pay for youthful indiscretions with early-onset spinsterhood? What if unseen forces monitored everything we put in our mouths and then called us fat? What if men liked us just because we gave head? What if someone snapped our picture as we stumbled, hung over, to get tampons on Sunday morning? What if by exhibiting sexual confidence in our 20s we had inadvertently barred ourselves from a future that included fulfilling work and love and kids if we wanted them?

But mostly, what Monica has done with her time as a grown-up is betray all of us who were empathizing with her, who were feeling some small percentage of her pain, who were just waiting for her to prove to the world that she was more than a set of wet lips and a beret. And she did this by adamantly refusing to do anything but dwell on that one time that she went down on the president.

If she wants to think nostalgic or silly or self-deprecating thoughts about her own unfortunate history, she should go ahead. That's what our interior lives are for. But she should consider the difference between inside thoughts and outside thoughts; it's one of the saddest lessons that classic over-sharers (myself included) have to learn eventually.

It's time to get a real job now, Monica. Or take some classes.

I think of the way that my anxious, sometimes lonely cadre of friends try to push ourselves to move forward and grow up. We try to work harder, think more rigorously, dream bigger, do better next time. Sometimes we get therapy; sometimes we get haircuts. Neither seems to have taken with Monica.

These are great points--which of us hasn't made some mistake, taken an incomplete in a course that we should've finished, slept with a guy we instantly regretted, been too indiscreet, and irresponsible?

But the difference I guess is learning your mistakes as opposed to repeating them or always living in the shadow of them. There's a time to grow up and shake off those demons. You can't run from who you are--but you can try to change and grow and stop trapping yourself in your past.


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