What’s changed is the rest of us — our moral judgment of the behavior and those who perpetrate it, but also our willingness to look at the ugliness when it’s exposed and place blame, at long last, where it belongs. Everybody in the White House knew what JFK was doing in his free time, and so did the White House press corps. But they turned away and perpetuated the silence, as if it were understood by all that one of the perks of the office was the freedom of the president to do anything he wanted with any woman he wanted, secure in the knowledge that the public (like his wife) would never be informed. If Kennedy used a college student to fulfill his craving for pleasure and cruelty, that was his business and prerogative.
Not so much anymore. Thanks to the slow evolution of our understanding of power, and the power of publicity to expose its workings to the world, we’re shining a brighter light than ever on acts of exploitation, and judging them more harshly, recognizing them for the acts of abuse they clearly are. And with this clearer condemnation of the abuse, its victims are becoming more willing to come forward, shouldering less of the shame that burdened them in the past, keeping them silent.