When, in 1998, it came to light that a twenty-one-year-old White House intern named Monica Lewinsky had carried on an affair with U.S. President Bill Clinton while he was in office, the ensuing firestorm of media coverage of the story was predictable. So too were the President's initial denials of an affair, and, eventually, the impeachment proceedings brought against him. What was perhaps less predictable was the variety of ways in which Ms. Lewinsky was characterized in the media. A self-professed feminist writing for The Washington Monthly, which calls itself a "progressive magazine," wrote about a "painfully sentimental, pathologically vulnerable, sexually available young woman," noting that if she (the writer) were not "a feminist, I guess I'd call her a pathetic little slut." In the media, Ms. Lewinsky was reduced to either a cartoonishly two-dimensional, predatory seeker of validation and attention, or a completely mindless victim. Under either characterization, she was viewed as incapable of existing among thinking adults in a world of constrained, albeit present, agency.
Kerri L. Stone,
Consenting Adults?: Why Women Who Submit to Supervisory Sexual Harassment Are Faring Better in Court than Those Who Say No... and why They Shouldn't,
Yale J.L. & Feminism
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yjlf/vol20/iss1/3