That Woman

by | 29 Mar 2015

I’ve always been conscious of the danger of social media. Maybe that’s why for a long time I avoided it. Not being on Facebook during my thirties saved me from a multitude of pregnancy announcements that would have been difficult to withstand. And I feel truly blessed that since I came out online about my pursuit of motherhood, I seem to have avoided the tongue of the troll. But I also know that it’s only a matter of time. One day, someone, somewhere is going to pass judgement online on something I’ve written or said. Justified or not, it will be there forever for the world to see, and I know it’s going to hurt.

That’s why I’m dedicating my blog this week to Monica Lewinsky – that woman – who after nearly a decade out of the limelight did a TED talk this month about the culture of online humiliation and the need to develop compassion for the real people behind our comments and clicks. She describes herself as ‘patient zero’ of losing a reputation on a global scale almost instantaneously as a result of the digital revolution. Not only is her talk brave and brilliant, it is also an extraordinary insight into the woman she really is. As I watched it, I realised that my opinion of her had been formed purely by what I’d read other people say, and not by who she was when I listened to her speak. I urge you to watch it too by clicking here and see if you feel the same.

Monica was born in July 1973. She’s 41 (nearly 42). As far as I can tell she hasn’t had children and on her Wikipedia site, in the section entitled ‘Life After The Scandal’ the final sentence reads: ‘a stable relationship leading to marriage, which she reportedly desired, has also not happened.’ When I read this, after I had listened to her TED talk, my heart went out to her even more because I feel certain that her biological clock will be ticking – in fact the alarm will probably be ringing – and I know only too well how that feels. But there I go again, making assumptions even if it’s a compassionate one, about someone else’s life from what I’ve gleaned online. I better watch that if I don’t want anyone to do to me the same.


  1. kiftsgate

    Great video, thanks for sharing it! Hope you carry on avoiding trolls! xx

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Me too. So far so lucky. Glad you enjoyed the TED talk. Hope life is good in your third trimester!

  2. Pamela

    I was transfixed by the TED talk when I watched it some 10 days ago. Like you, I’m glad social media wasn’t part of my life in my 30s and early 40s. I had a chance to wade in slowly and curate what come my way. Can’t begin to imagine the strength it took for Monica to step on to that stage…

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Wasn’t it amazing. I do feel very lucky to have managed to stay relatively unscathed by putting myself (and my vulnerability) out there on social media. But maybe that’s the brilliant thing about exposing your vulnerability, it makes you so much stronger. Loved your recent blog by the way. It’s so true that the compass does return, and I do feel most of the time I’m heading south to the sun! Jessica x

  3. Mali

    I too saw the TED talk, and feel for her very much. As Pamela said, what strength it took for her to step out again into the unforgiving public spotlight.

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      I know. But wasn’t she amazing. Such authenticity is difficult to find in public speaking and she totally nailed it! Thank you so much for commenting and connecting.

  4. shawnadamsblog

    Thanks for posting this, i have seen a huge resurfacing of the scandal now that Hillary Clinton decided to run. what a great reminder!

    • thepursuitofmotherhood

      Yes indeed! Monica says the timing wasn’t linked but you do have to wonder…either way good for her for taking the stage so well. Jessica x