Monica Lewinsky dissects despicable treatment of Britney Spears by the media

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Monica Lewinsky has said she’s relieved that celebrities and the press have owned up to how they treated Britney Spears in the past, saying it’s “long overdue”.

The American television personality said she empathises with how the media hounded the singer – Lewinsky was dragged into the spotlight for her affair with former US president Bill Clinton in 1995.

Following the release of The New York Times documentary Framing Britney Spears earlier this year, the corrosive, wall-to-wall press coverage Britney experienced in the 2000s was re-examined. It prompted Justin Timberlake, Perez Hilton and tabloids, among others, to apologise for how they treated Britney.

“I think it’s long overdue and wonderful to see it happening for different women in different arenas and scenarios,” Lewinsky told In Style.

“I made a mistake. Britney didn’t. There were other young women this happened to, and there’s an enormous amount of collateral damage.

“So I think it’s not just an apology to a person; it’s an apology to how you’ve affected a culture. What is sexual agency? What does it mean?”

Monica Lewinsky ‘wasn’t able’ to realise what happened to Britney Spears in the 2000s

Lewinsky, 48, reflected on the way the press objectified women in the public eye. The paparazzi, for example, swarmed the “Toxic” hitmaker even throughout the throes of her public breakdown.

One former photographer said he and his colleagues did not “treat [Britney] as a person” – instead, she was a “commodity” to them.

At one point, a paparazzo took an upskirt picture of Britney while rumours were heaving that she was pregnant: “Britney is not pregnant…. Period”, the picture caption stated.

“It’s not surprising that this de-objectifying of women is happening alongside the #MeToo movement,” Lewinsky said. “They braid together in a way that makes sense.”

Britney Spears faintly smiles against a backdrop of blurred-out lights
Britney Spears. (James Devaney/WireImage)

The Impeachment: American Crime Story producer later recalled the time she once met the 39-year-old. “It was in the early 2000s,” she said.

“She was with Justin Timberlake, and she was going into Henri Bendel just as I was leaving. I had my handbag company at the time, and she said she thought the bags were cute.

“I was beside myself, so I got her some. But at that time I wasn’t able to have the perspective to recognise: ‘Oh, this is happening to other women.’

“When the fat-shaming happened to Jessica Simpson [in 2009], I thought, ‘Oh, OK. This didn’t just happen to me. This is happening now to other people too.’

“Not that that’s a good thing.”

Lewinsky sharing her support for the embattled pop princess comes after a battery charge against Britney was dismissed by California prosecutors.

Spears’ housekeeper filed a battery complaint against her in August alleging that her mobile phone had been swatted out of her hand during a heated argument over veterinary care for her dog.

But on Wednesday (1 September), California prosecutors said in a statement that charges will not be filed due to “insufficient evidence, lack of injury to the housekeeper or significant damage to the phone”.

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