Monica Lewinsky Launches #DefyTheName Anti-Bullying Campaign

Monica Lewinsky poses for a photo dressed down in a leather jacket.
Fernando Leon / Getty Images

Monica Lewinsky ushered October in on her own terms this year, with the launching of a social media campaign that she is encouraging all to join – in observance of National Bullying Prevention Month.

Lewinsky’s #DefyTheName initiative seeks to inspire a discussion around name-calling as a prevalent form of bullying. The challenge to all of those who may see such an endeavor as a noble one is for each person to take power back from whatever slur, characterization, or label has been cast upon them in the past. To Lewinsky’s experience, this can be done if victims of name-calling simply own whatever insult may have never sat right with them and perhaps still leaves the victim feeling disempowered.

The concept is explained in a PSA that was just released to show celebrities like Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots, Dan Patrick, John Oliver, Kelly Ripa, Maysoon Zayid, Olivia Munn, Alan Cumming, Andy Cohen, Sarah Silverman, Lena Dunham and Tony Hawk proudly declaring names that were once hurtful to them, with the understanding that in facing up to them, such words will haunt them no more.

For example, Lewinski told the hosts of Good Morning America on Friday, October 5, that her moniker for the month will be “Monica Chunky Sl*t Stalker That Woman Lewinsky” – which of course, draws reference to the mid-90’s scandal she got swept up in when opponents seeking to impeach then-President Bill Clinton, selected to air out inside information about him having an affair with the former intern, Lewinsky.

In an effort to get the campaign going viral so that more and more people can join in, Lewinsky is asking that supporters edit their display name on Twitter and other platforms where the change can reflect solidarity with the message.

“Name-calling is the most common form of bullying that we see and as you were saying, I think everybody knows what it’s like to be called hurtful and harmful names. So we call this campaign #defythename because it’s about not letting the names that other people call you defy who you are,” Lewinsky told the GMA viewing audience. “Defy the name. Don’t let being bullied define you.”

Lewinsky has been consistent in her anti-bullying advocacy since her return to the public eye some four years ago. In 2015 the 45-year-old government assistant-turned-activist declared herself “patient zero,” in identifying herself as the very first victim of mass cyberbullying, in a TED Talk video during which she discussed being shamed by society back in 1998.

Today, as a proponent of the #MeToo movement and a considerably impactful influencer on the same apparatus that once destroyed her, it does not look like Lewinsky will be bullied into quieting down anytime soon.