Media Hail Monica Lewinsky: New Feminist Icon?

Despite the fact that feminists attacked Monica Lewinsky during the Clinton-era, calling her “slutty” and a “trashy bimbo” among other things, feminists are now embracing her as an “inspiring” figure against the tide of “slut-shaming.”

The change of tune came after Lewinsky gave an interview to Vanity Fair last year, where she called feminists out for attacking her in the 90s. Jessica Bennett wrote a piece on Lewinsky in the Style section of The New York Times, March 19, describing the phenomenon:

"Feminists who had stayed silent on the first go-round were suddenly defending her, using terms like “slut-shaming” and “media gender bias” to do it."

ELLE Magazine’s Jessica Grose wrote, “Hopefully the feminists who trashed her back when have learned from their mistakes, too.” Grose claimed that feminists backed Lewinsky today because of the rise of social media. She said slut-shamers “would have to deal with the backlash from an organized feminist Twitter mob.”

Whether or not they learned anything, these feminists have definitely changed their tune. The Vanity Fair and NYT profiles spawned an opportunity for Lewinsky to speak at a TED Conference last week. She spoke about her experience being a target of online bullying which feminists co-opted as an anti-slut-shaming message. Cosmopolitan called it “inspiring:”

Chris Cillizza of The Washington Post called the talk “really, really important” while Sarah Cristobal of Yahoo! News praised Lewinsky as “a next-gen feminist.” Celebrities and journalists have shown their support for Lewinsky on Twitter, with the trending hashtag #IStandWithMonica.


It’s hard to predict who feminists will make their next hero. In 2012 it was Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke, who made a name for herself advocating for “free” birth control. Feminists have praised Lena Dunham, the perpetually-nude Girls director whose false rape allegation and creepy behavior have been swept under the rug by the media. At least Lewinsky has apologized for her well-known sexual act with the former president; but the Left clearly could do better in choosing their feminist icons.

Culture/Society Monica Lewinsky
Kristine Marsh's picture


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