We all shamed Monica and now it's time to apologize

“It was reminiscent of the way teen girls will rally around a high status boy and throw the ‘slutty’ girl under the bus,” says Rachel Simmons, the author of Odd Girl Out and Curse of the Good Girl, who was working for Senator Charles Schumer at the time. “Girls do it to protect their own status and preserve their own relationships with the guys. Bill Clinton was the Golden Boy.”

And indeed, that was part of the problem. Sure, Clinton was charming and charismatic. (“All of my women friends and I would be happy to have sex with Clinton and not talk about it,” the New Yorker writer Patricia Marx joked at the time.) But he was also good for women-at-large. He supported reproductive rights. He put Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court. And then there was Hillary. So when Lewinsky asks now, “Where … were the feminists back then?” we know the answer. As the president of the Feminist Majority Foundation put it, five months after the affair was revealed: “We’re trying to think of the bigger picture, think about what’s best for women.”

There’s very rarely sympathy for “the other woman.” Or, as Erica Jong tells me, when asked if the reaction to Lewinsky would be any different today: “Blaming women is always in fashion.”

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