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Your Daily Read: On Monica Lewinsky and The Rules for Women

Because two may have an affair, but only the woman is judged.

As a 16 year old watching Jay Leno on CNBC India and understanding only about half of the pop culture references, the thing that struck me most was just how many Monica Lewinsky jokes there were.  Over the next few months there were horrible jokes about the way she looked, her weight, her awkwardness and more. I may have even laughed at a couple. But now- at distance of nearly 20 years, I can’t help wondering why she was the one put to scrutiny.

In the aftermath of an affair, why do we always blame the woman?

As Your Daily Read from the so succinctly puts it

Let’s imagine a hypothetical workplace where the male CEO has an affair with a young, female intern. The CEO is married, of course, and a serial philanderer. He’s powerful and charismatic, and he invites his new paramour to listen in on meetings she would never otherwise hear, and suggests that he can help her career in big ways.
Obviously, it takes two people to have an affair. But if you had to apportion blame, where would you put it: the older, married CEO, or the young, unmarried intern?

The CEO of course, says the feminist part of your brain. But society has always had a different set of rules for powerful men and for the women they exploit. That is why Bill Clinton is now a beloved avuncular presence in the American political scene, and Monica Lewinsky is often reduced to a lewd punchline or innuendo.

Earlier this month, she has made another attempt at a comeback – as an ambassador against cyber bullying (she refers to herself as the “Patient Zero of cyber bullying“). But her return to the public space has been met with derision and vitriol from a large vocal section of people.(Twitter often gives 140 characters to the worst specimens of humanity, doesn’t it?)

As a recent poll shows:

Opinion about Monica Lewinsky has not improved much since the late 90s, though Americans seem to have forgiven Bill Clinton.”
Forty-eight percent of those surveyed still reported an “unfavorable opinion” of the former White House intern. More than twice as many said they viewed her unfavorably as favorably. Only a third expressed any sympathy for her.
Meanwhile, Bill Clinton got a 58 percent favorable rating in the same poll.

Closer home, you just have to look at the comments section of Pinkvilla (we read it for ‘research’) every time one of our vaunted married superstars has an (alleged) affair with a starlet to see exhibits of the same kind of behaviour. It is never the married star’s fault, but words like “home breaker” and worse are thrown around with abandon when describing the starlet ! It is the starlet who is excommunicated from filmy parties while the stars continue to enjoy Eleventy Billion Crore films. In cases where the star’s wife has enough and chooses to divorce him, she again is blamed for not having the fortitude to put up with this paragon who the largely female commentators would jump at a chance to marry!

Society continue to condone men for their sexual transgressions while at the same time chastising the women, creating an environment that questions a woman’s right to enjoy sex or relationships.

And every time we laugh at a Monica Lewinsky joke, we are all complicit in this.

More here.

Photo Credit: alandberning via Compfight cc

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