- Lewinsky’s ratings-smashing, primetime interview with Barbara Walters in 1999 revealed much about the tension surrounding the new modern American woman, and the generational divide between women themselves. Lewinsky claimed she came from a generation that was “sexually supportive of each other”—friends, not enemies, when it came to relationships. Walters asked what Lewinsky would tell her children about the affair, seeming to suggest a young woman’s life choices may look different after she yields to domesticity.
Millennial women—myself included—internalized these negative characterizations of Lewinsky. A woman who in many ways represented new possibility for young women—independence, pleasure, income, delaying marriage and kids—was torn down, not just for the sex scandal, but for what were presented as her life choices that led to it. The message was that young women should not and could not have these things. By painting her as dumb, trampy, and undeserving of love, the media narrative kicked the possibility of the independent woman to the curb.