China Elevator Stories

"the price of shame" by monica lewinsky

Monica Lewinsky talks about being publicly shamed.


Ruth Silbermayr
Ruth Silbermayr


In March 2018, my younger son starts to attend kindergarten in my ex-husband’s hometown.

I dress both my boys and help them get ready for kindergarten in the mornings. Once I have kissed them goodbye at the door, they both leave with their dad who leaves to go to work at his pizza shop, a little shop he has set up in a private flat in Siping.

Once my boys have left for kindergarten, I usually clean up our flat and wash our clothes and dishes before I then start to prepare classes. I like listening to podcasts or TED talks while I do so.

One day in 2018, I come across Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk “The price of shame”. It is still my favorite TED talk to this day.

Because what happened to me is not congruent with the experience most people have, I have been through years of (both public and private) shaming by a huge number of people and can relate to Monica Lewinsky’s experience. I didn’t have this experience in 2018, but now I do.

“If you’ve ever experienced a traumatic event or know someone who has, you may have received hurtful comments or implications from others that suggest that you are to blame for what occurred. This phenomenon of blaming survivors is a common response that often pops up in discussions of sexual assault, violence, and abuse” (betterhelp).

Have you ever been publicly shamed?

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