Monica Lewinsky is back, and this time, at least, not as a victim.
She ended her 10 years outside the spotlight in the June issue of Vanity Fair with an essay about her life post-White House scandal. She wrote, "I turned 40 last year, and it is time to stop tiptoeing around my past -- and other people's futures . . . . (What this will cost me, I will soon find out.)"
So far, it seems to have cost her very little. In fact, showing her brave -- if more mature and more beautiful -- face is earning her some respect. David Letterman and Bill Maher have said they regret their roles in shaming Lewinsky back in 1998.
Today, she has chosen to rebrand herself apart from the sleazy high-level seduction. She rightly observes that she may be the first person whose global shaming was driven by the Internet. And the lurid report by independent counsel Ken Starr was one of the first government documents released on what was then known as the World Wide Web -- disseminating the mortifying sex details with astonishing speed.
Today, Lewinsky is encouraging victims of online humiliation, like her, to go public. People are fed up with the bullying, and we are defending ourselves using the same online tools favored by anonymous attackers.
Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling has publicly identified two New Jersey men responsible for a barrage of sexually explicit comments online about his daughter. Schilling had taken to Twitter last month to congratulate his kid on being accepted to college, where she will pitch for the softball team -- a sincere and joyful moment for a proud father. The X-rated and vulgar comments followed.
Schilling said he's pursuing criminal charges for online harassment. It's uncertain how far he'll get; offensive language still enjoys constitutional protection.
This month, actress Ashley Judd tweeted that the University of Arkansas Razorbacks played dirty against her University of Kentucky Wildcats -- and the trolls promptly shouted her down, spewing vulgarities and threatening her with rape.
Judd responded that she will try to press charges. And in an essay published shortly afterward, Judd wrote about "the ripe dangers that invariably accompany being a woman and having an opinion about sports or, frankly, anything else."
These anonymous smears can have fatal consequences. A 12-year-old Florida girl, Rebecca Ann Sedwick, committed suicide in 2013 after months of vicious online harassment by at least a dozen classmates. Anonymous comments also figured in the 2011 suicide of Jamey Rodemeyer, a Buffalo teen who was terrorized over his sexual orientation.
A number of states, including New York, have passed laws against cyberstalking and cyberharassment -- but the rest of us aren't waiting for the courts.
My husband and I recently broke up a party our daughter threw at our house -- we objected to the teens smashing our furniture -- and the next morning, I woke to Yik Yaks about my daughter's virtue that struck me to my heart. Is this true, I asked her?
"Mom, they're just giving me a hard time because you broke up the party," she said.
I wouldn't have known what Yik Yak was until some savvier parents alerted me on Facebook. Yik Yak is a particularly vile messaging app with no user profiles -- affording maximum anonymity for commenters.
To what end, I wonder? It's as dark a space as a coward could desire for bellowing hatred. We need to drag them back into the light.
Lewinsky's new mission is right on target -- and it's a much better ending to her story than the blue dress.
Anne Michaud is the interactive editor for Newsday Opinion