We Were Awful to Monica Lewinsky But We’d Like to Think We’d Act Differently Today

Longreads

Ms. Lewinsky was quickly cast by the media as a “little tart,” as The Wall Street Journal put it. The New York Post nicknamed her the “Portly Pepperpot.” She was described by Maureen Dowd in The New York Times as “ditsy” and “predatory.”

And other women — self-proclaimed feminists — piled on. “My dental hygienist pointed out she had third-stage gum disease,” said Erica Jong. Betty Friedan dismissed her as “some little twerp.”

“It’s a sexual shaming that is far more directed at women than at men,” Gloria Steinem wrote me in an email, noting that in Ms. Lewinsky’s case, she was also targeted by the “ultraright wing.” “I’m grateful to [her],” Ms. Steinem said, “for having the courage to return to the public eye.”

Had the Lewinsky story unfolded today, certainly the digital reality of it would have been worse (or at least more pungent). “They would have dug…

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We Were Awful to Monica Lewinsky But We’d Like to Think We’d Act Differently Today

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