Dumb brunette, bunny boiler, Valley Girl, minx, victim, fool for love. Who is Monica Lewinsky and what does she want?

The great thing about Monica Lewinsky is that you can have her any way you want her and she's always a willing accomplice. Monica is, as we know, desperate to please, desperate for some attention and boy, have we given it to her. If, in Clinton's twisted definition of sex, Monica did not count as "another person" or "any other person", more a series of body parts to be avoided, then she has indeed been reduced to a masturbatory aid. Yet given her inflated sense of herself, it is only fitting that the media should further inflate her until she has become little more than a walking, talking blow-up doll.

See her photographed in kitschy outfits by Herb Ritts in Vanity Fair. See her suicidal, devastated at destroying the man she claims to love. See her as the anti-Hillary, dumb and blowsy and impressionable. See her as a potential bunny-boiler, Fatal Attraction-style, unable and unwilling to let her man go. See her as a little girl lost who believes that Mr President will leave his wife for her. See her as a spoilt Valley Girl who certainly expects something for nothing, because that's what she is accustomed to. See her above all in the words of that expert on women, Alan Clark, as "a randy little minx".

All of this, of course, is a way of not seeing her at all. Though her image is everywhere, it has already become iconic. The full lips, the curtain of hair are given to Warholian reproduction. She looks good in black and white. Despite her make-over, the shoes, the suit, the oh-so- sensible handbag, colour betrays Monica. She still looks too fleshy, like she's trying too hard to look like a good girl. So we should not be surprised that she is overblown, this blow-up doll - and we aren't. No, what shocks us is that she should have real emotions; misguided, maybe, but heartfelt nonetheless; that she should be embarrassed about revealing the sexual details of her affair with the President, and that she should feel so hurt by his public pronouncements about her.

Since last week's publication of the Starr report and this week's release of her full testimony to the grand jury, it has become more and more difficult to slot Monica into any of the stereotypes on hand. If we want to view her as little more than a sexual opportunist, then her adolescent obsession with Clinton indicates that she doesn't have the required cynicism. From the minute she meets him she feels "an intense connection" with him. She falls in love with "the big creep". "I thought he had a beautiful soul," she gushes. "When I looked at him, I saw a little boy."

At several points while giving testimony, Monica burst into tears. Indeed the bodily fluid that seems to have been exchanged more than any other between Monica and Bill is salt water. Monica cries when she thinks of what has happened. Clinton's eyes water when he thinks of what might happen as a result. He told the grand jury that Monica sometimes got very distraught. "She got upset from time to time", especially when he couldn't or wouldn't see her. However he also revealed some affection for Monica. If this was spin then it was good spin. For the first time in this whole sordid episode, what emerges is the possibility that this was a consensual relationship based on mutual affection. Clinton will have done more for his poll ratings by speaking kindly of Monica than by portraying himself as the passive recipient of oral sex. In this way he truly has been guilty of turning Monica into little more than a dehumanised receptacle.

Yet if Lewinsky is not an opportunist, we know too much of her background to see her as a wronged innocent. In some ways she clearly knew what she was doing. In some. Not all. Dubbed "the clutch" by her White House colleagues, she would not let go of someone's hand if she thought they were important. She came to Clinton with a string of affairs with married men behind her and a reputation, if not as a liar, then certainly as an exaggerator. She was once sent home from the White House for wearing a dress that was too revealing. She was pushy and bubbly. We see her now in new photographs thrusting her way forward, smiling her big smile as she cozies up to the President. Yet all this self-confidence hides what the shrinks like to call "neediness", and Monica in her begging letters comes across as very needy indeed. "Please do not do this to me," she writes, underlining each word. She feels disposable and used. She is desperate to believe that the President can't live without her when it must be apparent that he can.

While the rest of the world is by turns disgusted and titillated by details of blow-jobs, fumblings and antics with cigars, one vital detail has been ignored. We find it easier in some ways to deal with the finer points of fellatio than we do with the feelings that Clinton and Lewinsky may have had for each other. This may be because three or more languages are being spoken here. There is the intense and paternalistic legalese of Starr and his cronies, the romantic tosh that Monica spouts and the more "mature" outlook of Clinton.

Clinton may now speak of himself as a broken spirit, but by all accounts it is Monica who is broken. He still gets standing ovations. If Clinton insists she was having sex with him while he was not having sex with her, it now looks as if she was having a relationship with him even if he wasn't having one with her. "I know it sounds soooooooo ridiculous, but I can't get him out of my heart," she wrote. "I love him a lot. I know it's stupid. I want to hug him so bad ... I could cry." Lewinsky often sounds like this. Gushing, sentimental and coy about sex. She sounds, in fact, about 13.

This combination of knowing sexual technique and emotional immaturity is what makes Monica both so hard to classify and yet so recognisable - she is neither victim nor vamp. Other women have been amazingly cruel about her. She is too big, too clumsy and tacky to be a stylish scarlet women. If Clinton has an appetite for junk food that he knows is bad for him, these big-haired, soft-lipped women like Monica represent junk sex. The charge against her is that she knew what she was doing, therefore she was in no way abused. Yet to read her testimony is to see that of course she was used by the most powerful man in the world. She gave him oral sex in return for what? The fantasy that she was important, that what she thought mattered, that when it came down to it, it wasn't just about sex.

Yet how can we ask Monica the truth about sex when she wants to talk about love, and how can we ask her lover the truth when he denies the sex? After Clinton made his "apology" on 17 August, Monica revealed the full extent of her confusion. "What I took away was that I didn't know what the truth was. And so how could I know the truth of my love for someone if it was based on him being an actor?" No wonder there is a sense of unreality about Monica. She moves in a world where self-deception and delusion is an art form. In the dysfunctional mall of a childhood called Beverly Hills, many things can take the place of love: credit cards, power, celebrity, sex. Her father, who came to America as the child of German Jewish refugees who had fled from the Nazis, ended up running a profitable string of cancer clinics. He may not have been around for his daughter, but both she and her mother were able to "max out" on credit cards in the stores of Rodeo Drive.

Monica soon realised that present-buying was a way of achieving popularity. Then she started to give men other kinds of presents - as the President has found to his cost. Monica, then, is a girl who grew up knowing the cost of everything and the value of nothing, who finds it difficult to know when she is lying and when others are lying. She is a material girl in a material world but look how she seeks something other than the trappings of wealth, something that talks of the soul.

For what we cannot cope with about Monica is her appetite and her desire. We already know about Bill, and anyway, men are allowed appetites. Women are not and yet here we have Monica, overweight and over-sexed: a woman who wants too much is always too dangerous. And in wanting the most powerful man in the world to fall in love with her, Monica really did expect too much.

But as the world knows everything there is to know about the kind of sex she had, Monica, we find, has been talking to the grand jury about love. "When you look at it now, was it love or sexual obsession?" a juror asked her.

"More love," she responded, "with a little bit of obsession, but definitely love." Inappropriate intimate contact? It's neither here nor there. Only love can break your heart.

Arts and Entertainment
Carrie Hope Fletcher
booksFirst video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Arts and Entertainment
Damien Hirst
artCoalition's anti-culture policy and cuts in local authority spending to blame, says academic
Arts and Entertainment
A comedy show alumni who has gone on to be a big star, Jon Stewart
tvRival television sketch shows vie for influential alumni
Arts and Entertainment
Jason goes on a special mission for the queen
tvReview: Everyone loves a CGI Cyclops and the BBC's Saturday night charmer is getting epic
Arts and Entertainment
Image has been released by the BBC
Arts and Entertainment
Henry Marsh said he was rather 'pleased' at the nomination
booksHenry Marsh's 'Do No Harm' takes doctors off their pedestal
Arts and Entertainment
All in a day's work: the players in the forthcoming 'Posh People: Inside Tatler'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne plays Stephen Hawking in new biopic The Imitation Game

'At times I thought he was me'

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
One Direction go Fourth: The boys pose on the cover of their new album Four

Review: One Direction, Four

Arts and Entertainment
'Game of Thrones' writer George RR Martin

Review: The World of Ice and Fire

Arts and Entertainment
Sean Bean will play 'extraordinary hero' Inspector John Marlott in The Frankenstein Chronicles
tvHow long before he gets killed off?
Arts and Entertainment
Some like it hot: Blaise Bellville

Arts and Entertainment
A costume worn by model Kate Moss for the 2013 photograph

Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Len Goodman appeared to mutter the F-word after Simon Webbe's Strictly performance

Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T makes his long-awaited return to the London stage
musicReview: Alexandra Palace, London
Arts and Entertainment
S Club 7 back in 2001 when they also supported 'Children in Need'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Sir Bruce Forsyth rejoins Tess Daly to host the Strictly Come Dancing Children in Need special
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Dornan plays Christian Grey getting ready for work

Film More romcom than S&M

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch star in the Alan Turing biopic The Imitation Game

Review: The Imitation Game

Arts and Entertainment
The comedian Daniel O'Reilly appeared contrite on BBC Newsnight last night

Arts and Entertainment
The American stand-up Tig Notaro, who performed topless this week show her mastectomy scars

Arts and Entertainment

TVNetflix gets cryptic

Arts and Entertainment
Claudia Winkleman is having another week off Strictly to care for her daughter
Arts and Entertainment
BBC Children in Need is the BBC's UK charity. Since 1980 it has raised over £600 million to change the lives of disabled children and young people in the UK

TV review A moving film showing kids too busy to enjoy their youth

Arts and Entertainment
Richard Flanagan with his winning novel

Books Not even a Man Booker prize could save Richard Flanagan from a nomination

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
    Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

    Look what's mushrooming now!

    Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
    Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

    The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

    Oeuf quake

    Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
    Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

    Terry Venables column

    Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
    Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

    Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin