In her already widely dissected 4,300 word Vanity Fair essay, Monica Lewinsky takes aim at the feminists of the late 90s.
She says she found no support from the women’s rights crowd back then, and when they did respond to the situation she appeared either as a punch line or a scapegoat. No one seemed to think much about whether she was exploited, or about the undeniable double-standard at play. Bill Clinton emerged, after a few bumps and bruises, a rock star; Lewinsky, a scarlet-letter branded harlot who still struggles to get work today.
When the asked whether the scandal might have been affecting Gore’s run for presidency, the ever-tactful Betty Friedan told the Los Angeles Times:
What is that? I can’t stand the way you media people just trivialize everything. It’s the campaign for the president of the United States… . What is your concern with some little twerp named Monica? What has she got to do with the presidential election? That just disgusts me.
Barbara Ehrenreich called the aftermath of the scandal “The Week Feminists Got Laryngitis.”
Others, like Maureen Dowd painted her as a looney bimbo, and others like Erica Jong and Katie Roiphe (who doesn’t have the tidiest of a feminist record herself) also didn’t have much in the way of words of support for her, all the while they gushed about adorable Bill.
Something important has gone unnoticed amid the chatter about the titillating revelations of an affair between four star General David Petraeus (he of the name worthy of the leader of ancient Greece’s military forces, never mind the United States’) and his fawning biographer, Paula Broadwell.
And that is the fact that there was a tremendous power imbalance inherent in the relationship between Petraeus, who on November 9 stepped down as head of the Central Intelligence Agency as a result of his affair coming to light, and Broadwell, a lieutenant colonel in the army reserves.
New York Times columnist Frank Bruni astutely observes journalists’ tendency to describe the women in these all-too-familiar tales as the temptresses who no man could truly resist. He points out that The Washington Post wrote of Broadwell’s “form-fitting clothes” and The Daily Beast of her “expressive green eyes.”
What if Jewish women behaved as badly as their XY chromosomal counterparts?
What if we were to flip the genders of Eliot Spitzer, Bernie Madoff, Anthony Weiner and Dominique Strauss-Kahn so that it was a Jewish woman who paid for sex, who swindled billions, who sent nudie pics via Twitter and who assaulted a hotel worker?