Sunday, May 11, 2014
Organized feminism has yet to admit owing Lewinsky a huge, and deserved, apology.
That’s an important part of Lewinsky’s long Vanity Fair essay, out Tuesday. She’s indeed been “slut -shamed” nonstop since 1998. Lewinsky details it painfully. Feminists who should have supported her then did not, and few do today. Lewinsky writes about that awful lapse as well.
Certainly she’s not to be defended as “the other woman” but as the victim of vicious, sexist attacks. Tubby, trampy, nutty, slutty, crazy, predatory, a veteran of summer fat camps with one skill and one skill only. These are but a few Lewinsky describers in the media and screamed at her on the street.
Feminists should have defended her then and now as the victim of what they themselves had already defined, post-Anita Hill, as a specific type of workplace sexual harassment. When the power differential is so great — and there’s none greater than that between the president of the United States and a lowly intern — there is no such thing as consensual workplace sex. Period.
But feminists disgraced themselves then by trashing her and defending Bill Clinton because they liked his politics. The conservative politics of Clarence Thomas, Anita Hill’s alleged harasser? Not so much.
Back in 1998 the late Marjorie Williams, in the very same Vanity Fair where Lewinsky now tells her tale, accused the country’s most powerful feminists of being “silent or dismissive” about Lewinsky — though they’d just fought to the death for Anita Hill. Among the dismissive: Gloria Steinem.
Said famous feminist writer Anne Roiphe, “It will be a great pity if the Democratic Party is damaged by this.” What was damaged instead was the reputation and integrity of organized feminism. It has yet to recover, in part because it has yet to admit owing Lewinsky a huge, and deserved, apology. (Full Story)