TIME Sex

Here’s the Real Reason Women Hate Premature Ejaculation

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Men focus too hard on lasting a long time in bed, often to the detriment of their partner

The wives and girlfriends of men who suffer from premature ejaculation are often frustrated—but it’s not for the reason you may think, according to a new study.

A clinical psychologist at the University of Zurich surveyed more than 1,500 women in Mexico, Italy and South Korea and found that women don’t necessarily want intercourse to last longer. “It is not the short duration of the act of lovemaking that is primarily regarded as the main source of sexual frustration by the majority of women, but the fact that the man is focused too strongly on delaying ejaculation. As a result, he ignores the sexual needs of the woman and is unable to satisfy her individual desires,” the study said.

In thinking about the finish line, it’s easy for men to neglect sexually stimulating acts like kissing and caressing, which the women who were surveyed said are equally important to their satisfaction in the bedroom.

TIME motherhood

‘My Husband Wants to Breastfeed:’ The Phenomenon Nobody Talks About But Everyone Googles

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Mother nursing baby son (9-12 months) father leaning on sofa John Howard—Getty Images

Some men are turned on, some are curious, and some are just trying to help out their wives

It’s the suckle that dare not speak its name. In worldwide Google searches, “my husband wants me to breastfeed him” is a more popular search term than “my husband wants to separate” and “my husband wants a baby” combined.

Um, what? Seth Stephens-Davidowitz originally reported these numbers in the New York Times, and most of that breastfeeding search traffic is coming from India. While that doesn’t necessarily mean that breastmilk is becoming a delicacy in India, it does suggest a lot of interest. And it begs the question: is this really a thing?

Absolutely, says Dr. Wendy Walsh, a relationship expert and self-described “dairy queen” who nursed each of her children until they were 3. “Every breastfeeding mother I ever knew said their husband asked to drink it,” she says adding that the father of her child also asked to nurse once in a while.

Drinking human breast milk is enough of a niche fetish that there’s even a whole bar in Japan dedicated to it, where men can either buy shots of milk or get it straight from the nipple. Corky Harvey, who co-founded the Pump Station and Nurtery in Santa Monica, CA, said that when she asked nursing mothers whether their husbands ever tried to breastfeed, two women said they had heard of friends getting this request from their husbands. And one woman said she had been at a party where a man came up and asked if her husband like to “suckle on those breasts.”

“I think with a lot of men, there’s just a curiosity of what it tastes like, and what it would be like to nurse,” said Wendy Haldeman, who co-founded the Pump Station with Harvey. “Certainly men suck on nipples during sex, so they’re gonna get milk.”

But husband breastfeeding can be as much about utility as curiosity. “If the milk is backed up in the breast, and it’s very painful, and sometimes the baby can’t get it out and the pump can’t get it out,” she says. “And there have been times when the dads have been successful at clearing the blockage.” She added that the fathers’ teeth sometimes make this a bit complicated.

None of the lactation experts or OB-GYNs we spoke to said they had noticed a real adult breastfeeding trend in the United States, but they also weren’t particularly surprised to hear that it was a common search query.

“If you put women who are nursing together with partners who are having sex, then it’s bound to happen,” said Felina Rakowski-Gallagher, founder and president of the Upper Breast Side lactation center in New York City. “And if it’s bound to happen and there are no negative consequences, maybe it’s something that Mother Nature intended.”

But if asked, most American men say they’re definitely not into drinking milk directly from their wife’s breast. George Silva, a 42-year old banker from Caracas, Venezuela told me he “never considered” tasting his wife’s milk while she was nursing their two children, now 8 and 5. “I never heard of a man who wanted to try it,” his wife Lisa said.

“I had no urge whatsoever,” said Anthony, a 43-year-old New York wine salesman who asked that his last name not be used. “And there was tons of it.”

Perhaps husband breastfeeding is a global phenomenon that hasn’t caught on in the United States yet. “It’s happening around the world, not just in India, but in China and Europe” said Dr. Diane Spatz, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing who also works at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. “Men think, ‘oh there are all these health benefits of human milk, so if I’m a man, and I want to make myself healthier, then this is what I’m gonna do,'” she said, adding that the effects of breast milk on adults have not been extensively studied.

And obviously there’s a difference between an occasional sip and regular feeding. “My concern about it is that if this is happening, then the baby might not be getting access to the mom’s own milk,” says Spatz.

But even if this is happening in India, as the search numbers suggest, Indian women are hardly nursing their husbands in the streets. “This is completely new to me, I don’t see that as a common phenomenon in India” said Effath Yasmin, a Lactation Consultant who runs Nourish & Nurture Lactation Care & Parenting Education in Mumbai, India. “But we’re from a very conservative culture and women perhaps would not approach professionals to discuss about this. That could be why they’re maybe looking for it on the internet.”

Some experts say that adult breastfeeding might also have an element of jealousy to it, and that the breastmilk fetish might come from the fact that the breast’s sexual and nutritional functions are getting confused. “The breast has a day job and a night job,” Dr. Walsh says. “The breast used to be the man’s play-toy, and suddenly the baby is coming in and playing with daddy’s favorite play-toy.”

“Is it bad?” she asked. “Who cares?”

 

 

 

TIME Pregnancy

Sex, Breastfeeding and Cheesecake: What The World Searches For While Pregnant

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Google searches reveal that Indian couples search for "sex" more than couples in any other country. Also "my husband wants me to breastfeed him."

Expectant couples all over the world are concerned about how pregnancy will affect their sex lives, but Indian couples seem especially worried. India’s top five Google searches for “How to ___ while pregnant” include “have sex,” “do sex,” and just plain “sex.”

And to confuse matters further, India’s top search (by far) for “my husband wants me to ___” is “my husband wants me to breastfeed him.” Which means that expectant couples in India are both really into sex and really into adult breastfeeding.

Men and women in the US, Britain, Australia, and South Africa also asked the internet how to have sex while pregnant, but people in Nigeria also asked how to “make love,” according to a Google Search analysis by the New York Times.

Other results showed a widespread preoccupation with avoiding stretch marks, sleeping, and losing weight.

The top search results for “Can pregnant women ___?” also varied by country. Most of the results were about eating certain foods and drinking coffee, but sex only broke the top five search terms in India, Mexico, and Nigeria.

Pregnant Brazilian women took a whole different tack. Popular searches for what pregnant women can do in Brazil include: “dye their hair,” “ride a bike,” and “fly.” Meanwhile, Google searches for Britain and Australia are dominated entirely by food queries (Can pregnant women eat mayonnaise? Cheesecake? Prawns?) while Nigeria, Singapore, Mexico and the US seem concerned with drinking coffee.

Only people in Mexico were searching for whether pregnant women can wear heels.

TIME Education

The Dress Code Wars Continue

Texas students riot to protest the school's dress code as rules about students' outfits continue to distract

Most high schools will argue that dress codes are created and enforced because students’ clothing, if not monitored, will become distracting in the classroom. And yet this year dress codes seem to be derailing school work more than the outfits themselves.

More than 160 students at Duncanville High School in Texas were suspended last week for violating the school’s dress code. The kids who were sent home were told they could not stay in class for a range of violations: not wearing belts, forgetting their name tags, wearing the wrong colored shirt or having stubble on their faces. One student was even told that an official school spirit shirt was out of dress code because it didn’t have a collar.

The crackdown led to a spontaneous mass protest at the school, according to Fox Dallas-Fort Worth. Hundreds of students, upset that they were tossed from school during critical review classes before finals, began turning over trash cans and yelling in the halls. Videos posted to social media show students chanting “f–k dress code,” yelling and starting a fight. Police had to be called in to restore order, though no arrests were made.

Though the school argues that it has been enforcing dress code all year, students staged a sit in the day after the riot to protest what they say was an out-of-the-blue crackdown. A Change.org petition to repeal the dress code had 538 supporters as of Monday morning.

The riot comes just months after middle school students at a school in the Chicago suburbs protested their school’s rules against leggings. Students and parents argued that teachers and administrators were unfair to tell girls to cover up rather than teaching boys not to objectify their peers.

While school administrators maintain that girls wearing leggings will keep boys from paying attention in class or that boys’ chin stubble demonstrates a lack of respect for the learning environment, the protests against these rules are taking more time away from school work than any of these small infractions would.

TIME Sex

Why the ‘Hookup Generation’ Does Not Need to Learn How to Date

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Hero Images—Getty Images/Hero Images

Exploring the absurdity of a Boston College class that requires students to go on dates

Over the weekend, an article in the Boston Globe highlighted a class at Boston College in which the professor offers extra credit to students if they ask another student out on a date. (The date is mandatory in another one of her seminars.) The rules: it must be a legitimate love interest; they must ask in person (not via text, etc.); the love interest cannot know the date is an assignment; and the date must last 45-90 minutes and cannot involve any sexual contact. Professor Kerry Cronin argues that the exercise will teach college kids ingrained in the so-called “hookup culture” the lost art of dating.

Well I’m here to inform that professor that we 20-somethings don’t need help, thank you very much.

It’s true that dating has probably become less common on college campuses since the 1950s—or at least the Archie Comics version of dating where a boy and a girl sip a milkshake together through two straws. Instead college kids have discovered an even better way to find a significant other.

Professor Cronin has three main concerns: college students no longer have the confidence to ask one another out on dates; so they instead resort to group hangouts, which erodes the dating culture; and hookups have supplanted relationships. Let me address these concerns one at a time.

I’ll concede that the number of college kids asking each other out on dates in person has probably dropped significantly. According to a 2012 Pew Research poll, 63 percent of teens exchange texts with their friends every day while only 35 percent engage in face-to-face socializations with those same people outside of school. Asking a boy or girl out via text is safer: the rejection feels less harsh on the screen than in person.

And yet despite the fact that we like to hide behind our screens, we don’t need Cronin’s lesson in “doing something courageous,” as one of Cronin’s student describes it. Two college kids may be much more likely to kiss before one of them ever asks the other out on an actual date. But I would argue that it takes as much—if not more—courage to lean in for the first kiss as it does to ask someone out.

So how do we find these mates to kiss? Often, college kids meet potential love interests hanging out in groups with friends and friends of friends or at parties. I often felt in college that hanging out with someone I liked among friends allowed me to get to know him better than going on a 45-minute date alone ever would. Spending time in extracurriculars or in social situations with a crush always made me feel much more comfortable with him once we actually began to go out and a lot more sure that I wanted to be with him.

Parties, too, felt like a much more natural venue to talk to someone than a crowded Starbucks. Dates can feel contrived, whereas a party feels organic. Being surrounded by people, music and activities gives you something to talk about. Your friends could always help you or bail you out of a bad situation. And of course there’s the liquid courage.

Before addressing the myth of hookup culture, I’ll point out that dating isn’t dead on college campuses. An informal survey of my female friends found that each had been asked out at least one time by a boy she’d never even kissed before in college. These dates, if accepted, succeeded or failed at about the same rate as a random-hookup-turned-consistent-relationship did.

But what is really at the root of my informal dating tutorial is the mass panic about college hookup culture, which is way overblown. Every few months there seems to be a renewed hysteria surrounding Generation X’s inability to commit to relationships, and every few months I endeavor to debunk this hookup culture myth. So here are the facts again:

1. “Hookup culture” refers from anything from kissing to sex

So don’t freak out, parents. “Random hookups” can often mean just kissing.

2. A very small percentage of college kids are participating in this hookup culture

Less than 15 percent of students “hookup”—meaning anything ranging from kissing to sex—more than twice per year.

3. That very small percentage is about the same as the number of people who were having uncommitted sex in past generations

A 1967 study by the Institute for Sex Research found that 68% of college men and 44% of college women reported having engaged in premarital sex—around the same as the 64 percent reported at my alma mater. Another study that compared a survey on sexual practices from 1988-1996 to one from 2004-2012 found that respondents from the later survey did not report more sexual partners, more frequent sex or more partners during the past year than respondents from the earlier survey.

4. Most college students are actually looking for a committed relationship

A study by the American Psychological Association in February 2013 found that 63 percent of college men and 83 percent of college women would prefer a traditional relationship to uncommitted sex.

5. Most students having sex are doing so with one partner consistently

The same study that compared sex practices in the 80s and 90s to now found that 78.2% of those recently surveyed reported that their sexual partner was either a spouse or a significant other, compared to 84.5% in the survey from the ’80s and ’90s.

So yes, some college students will make out with one another at a party—maybe more—and then arrange to see one another again via text message. But many of those encounters result in dates and, eventually, relationships. As Richard McAnulty, an associate professor in psychology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte points out in the Globe article, the majority of college students actually practice “serial monogamy,” in which they have consecutive, exclusive relationships. The dates are still there, they just come later—after college kids are sure they’re interested in someone else and that there’s a possibility of a longer commitment. After all, aren’t dates more enjoyable when they’re with someone you already know that you like and are sexually attracted to?

And besides, there will be plenty of time post-graduation for awkward first dates arranged by mutual friends or a myriad of dating apps (OKCupid, Coffee Meets Bagel, Tinder and Hinge to name a few). They’ll sit and explain their jobs and their majors and what they like to do for fun. It will be always uncomfortable, sometimes pleasant, occasionally horrifying. But they’ll learn how to date in the way Cronin wants.

For now, college students, enjoy four years of choosing your boyfriends and girlfriends from a group of like-minded peers whose full name and interests you’ll already know by your first date.

TIME

Some People Are Wired to Want More Sex, Brain Study Shows

If it were an app, it would be worth millions. Here’s the best way to tally up how many sex partners a paramour has had in the past year

It turns out that some people are actually wired to have more sex—or at least be really, really motivated to hook up.

Research from the University of California Los Angeles and published in the journal Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience shows, thanks to an old fashioned brain recording, EEG-style, that some people’s brains are simply more sensitive to sexual cues than others — which means it takes less to get them aroused and ultimately leads them to find sexual partners.

MORE: How Changing Your Birth Control Can Make Sex Worse

Nicole Prause, an assistant research scientist in psychiatry at University of California Los Angeles, and her colleagues recruited psychology students to get an electroencephalogram of their brains and to view 225 standardized pictures of pleasant, neutral or unpleasant things. The pleasant images included sexually stimulating ones and these ranged from PG stuff like people kissing to more explicit pictures of people having sex. The students were also asked about their number of sexual partners in the past year.

Some of the participants showed strong reactions on the EEG to nearly all of the intimacy-themed images, regardless of whether they were explicit. And these were the same people who reported having more partners. Prause says the EEG is a good measure of how motivated the brain is – stronger responses typically occur when we’re faced with new and unfamiliar things, for example. In this case, the sexual cues are motivating for some.

It turns out that men and women were equally like to fall into this category; Prause’s team did not find any gender-based differences in the EEG patterns.

Does that mean some people are wired to be addicted to sex? Prause isn’t willing to go that far. “People may be more sensitive to sexual cues and engage in behaviors that aren’t helpful for them, but this study suggests you don’t need to use the label of addiction to describe that,” she says. For these people, it’s not a chasing of a “high” or a reward, but a biological sensitivity to sexual cues that sets their arousal threshold at a much lower level.

MORE: Why Science Needs More Sex

But before you track down the nearest EEG lab, Prause says the purpose of the study wasn’t to suss out the promiscuous among us. Because the EEG reading is a measure of motivation, understanding that some people’s sexual activity is a function of their biologically guided arousal should help in understanding risky sexual behavior and finding better ways to intervene.

“Being aware that if you are going out, and there is the possibility of having a new partner, and thinking about ways to not get too excited may sound silly, but managing that rather than ignoring it may help with better ways to control risky sexual behavior,” she says. We may be wired to want sex, but that doesn’t mean the wiring can’t be re-routed.

TIME Sex

How Changing Your Birth Control Can Make Sex Worse

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A new study published in Psychological Science finds that women who go on or off the pill after starting a relationship were less satisfied sexually than those who kept the same birth control regimen after meeting a new partner

If sex with your boyfriend got worse after you changed your birth control regimen, it wasn’t a fluke. Women’s sexual satisfaction in long-term, heterosexual relationships may be influenced by the pill, a new study published in Psychological Science shows.

Researchers at the University of Stirling surveyed 365 couples, asking them about both their sexual and non-sexual satisfaction with their relationships. They found that women who met their partner while taking the pill and were still currently taking the pill reported greater sexual satisfaction in their relationships than those women who either began taking the pill or stopped taking the pill sometime during their relationship.

Women who had never used the pill at any point were also happier sexually with their relationship than those who either started or stopped using oral contraception. The researchers also found no difference in non-sexual satisfaction among the groups.

The takeaway? If you switch your birth control, you risk sabotaging your sex life.

The new research supports previous findings that hormonal contraceptives can alter a woman’s ideal partner preferences. Women who are on the pill when they meet their boyfriend may find him less attractive after going off the pill.

“Our new results support these earlier findings but, crucially, they also point to the impact a change in hormonal contraceptive use during a relationship — either starting or stopping — can have on a woman’s sexual satisfaction with her partner,” lead researcher Craig Roberts said in the study. “We hope our results will help women understand why they might feel the way they do about their partner when they change use.”

 

TIME

The Most Erogenous Parts of the Female Body, Ranked By Science

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Scientists have determined which female body parts are most sensitive

Here’s a study that will make you blush.

Canadian scientists tested the sensitivities of several sexual areas on the female body, including the parts in the perineum area–the area between the anus and vulva–as well as the side boob and nipple. They compared these to neutral areas on the body, like the neck, forearm, abdomen.

Exactly how did they go about this? The researchers used light touch, pressure, and yes, vibration to assess how sensitive these body parts were. They had 3o healthy women between the ages of 18 and 35 get undressed and lie on a table covered in a bed sheet. They then used scientific instruments to apply the various forms of touch to the women’s clitoris, labia minora, vaginal margin, anal margin, lateral breast (side boob), areola (the small ring of skin surrounding the nipple), nipple, neck and forearm.

The researchers applied stimulation for 1.5 seconds, then waited for five seconds before asking the women if they felt it.

Here’s what they found.

For light touch, the neck, forearm, and vaginal margin are the most sensitive areas, and the areola is the least sensitive. When it comes to pressure, the clitoris and nipple are the most sensitive, and the side boob and abdomen are the least. Lastly, when it comes to vibration, the clitoris and nipple are most sensitive. The clitoris was the most sensitive to vibration out of all the body parts.

Overall, the researchers found that the genitals are more sensitive to pressure and vibration compared to light touch, which they found “interesting” because people enjoy sex and sex toys. (Duh).

In all seriousness, the researchers say that understanding these sensitives is useful knowledge for breast augmentation and gender reassignment surgery. But if you want this information for other reasons, by all means bookmark this page.

This study is published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

 

 

TIME

China’s Tinder Plots IPO in the Shadow of Anti-Porn Crackdown

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Chinese officials launch a ceremony to destroy thousands of pornographic books and video materials in Beijing on April 24, 2011. AFP/Getty Images

China's dating app has 120 million user profiles, some of which may be too hot for Beijing

China’s dating app Momo has 120 million users, a possible valuation of $2 billion, and an ongoing flirtation with U.S. banks, eager to get a piece of the action should the company go public on a U.S. stock exchange, but a few of the racier user profiles have investors on edge.

The Wall Street Journal reports that some of the photos could run afoul of China’s widening crackdown on internet pornography. A reporter from state news service Xinhua logged onto the app in a popular bar district of Beijing and reportedly found scantily clad women “wearing bikinis to show off their physiques” and profiles suggestive of escort services. The salacious details may not shock users of dating sites the world over, but in China, the pictures can trigger regulatory crackdowns. Web companies Sina and Sohu.com have seen their publishing licenses revoked for explicit content.

In an email to the Journal, a company spokesperson insisted the company supported the government’s crackdown and would expand its team of internal censors from 60 to 100 employees, saying its commercial interests were “totally incompatible with lewd and sexual content.”

[WSJ]

TIME feminism

The Shaming of Monica: Why We Owe Her an Apology

Monica Lewinsky in Washington DC just after the scandal broke in 1998.
Monica Lewinsky in Washington DC just after the scandal broke in 1998. Timothy Clary—AFP/Getty Images

America turned its back on a young intern, and the media called her tubby, slutty and predatory. A TV network even asked people to vote on whether she was a "tramp." Long before slut-shaming was a term, Monica Lewinsky was its original target.

Ask any child of the 1990s, and she remembers — vividly — when she first heard about the Monica Lewinsky scandal (as well as the particular sex acts involved).

I was 16, perched with a group of friends in the hallway of my high school, devouring the contents of the Starr report like a trashy romance novel. (He did what with a cigar?!) None of us was old enough to truly comprehend the complexities — or power dynamics — of a 22-year-old intern fellating the President of the United States. And yet we did know one thing: we didn’t like that raunchy Lewinsky girl. What kind of woman flashes her thong at the President, anyway?

Long before slut-shaming was a term, Monica Lewinsky was its original target. My teenage friends and I were among her critics, though the rest of the country, too, seemed to be acting like horny misogynist teens. The basics of Lewinsky’s story we all remember: Young intern makes idiotic mistake and, like many before her, starts a sexual relationship with the President. Affair leads to legal explosion, investigation, impeachment and, ultimately, one of the first tests of the Internet’s viral capabilities. (The story was blasted out on Drudge.) The young woman is permanently cast as a semen-smeared laughingstock.

Nearly two decades later, Lewinsky is still a punch line and a sly euphemism for oral sex. She reappears in the press this week by way of a 4,000-word Vanity Fair essay about the hellish aftermath of her “mutual relationship” with President Bill Clinton. She says she’s had trouble getting jobs. (Everyone knows her name, after all.) She turned down lucrative offers to tell all — because they “didn’t feel like the right thing to do” — and survived on loans from family and friends. If humiliation is indeed the most intense human emotion, as a new study found, then Lewinsky is my generation’s Hester Prynne. She had suicidal thoughts, and her mother feared that she would be “literally humiliated to death” (a consequence we now know is not so far-fetched in the Internet and social-media era).

The timing of Lewinsky’s essay, as we await a Hillary Clinton presidential run, is no doubt strategic, taking us back to an era that the Clintons would rather not revisit. But perhaps it also shows how far we’ve come. Does the media owe Monica Lewinsky a collective apology?

To look back on the specifics now is mind-blowing. The Wall Street Journal referred to Lewinsky — in print — as a “little tart.” New York magazine reported that as an adolescent, Lewinsky had spent two summers at fat camp, where she “paid particular attention to the boys.” (Code word: slut.) Maureen Dowd won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of Lewinsky, in which she called her a “ditzy, predatory White House intern” and “the girl who was too tubby to be in the high school ‘in’ crowd,” among other ugly caricatures. Fox News actually released a poll investigating whether the public thought Lewinsky was an “average girl” or a “young tramp looking for thrills.” Fifty-four percent rated her a tramp.

“It was a different time back then. There was no consciousness raised about slut-shaming. Bullying wasn’t even in the vernacular,” says Leora Tanenbaum, the author of Slut!, which first established the term slut-bashing (a precursor to slut-shaming) when it came out in 1999. “​People who were decisionmakers and influential writers were making comments about her hair and body. It was a textbook case of the sexual double standard.”

Indeed, it wasn’t just Bill Clinton who didn’t even grant Lewinsky the dignity of using her name when he finally, partially, admitted the affair. (She was “That Woman” — as in, “I didn’t have sexual relations with that woman.”) There were no websites like Jezebel back then, no feminist bloggers, no Women’s Media Center to call out sexism in the press. And so the media vilified her, painting her as that scary feminine trope: the crazy, emotional Single White Female — or, to borrow the phrase from the political sex scandal before her, “a little bit nutty and a little bit slutty.” “This is all sort of part of the water at the time, where the woman is the evil seductress — and the poor, weak man had no power to resist her,” says Jennifer Pozner, a media critic and the author of Reality Bites Back, about women and reality TV. “That’s how Monica Lewinsky entered the fray.”

In reality, it’s not actually that hard to imagine being in Lewinsky’s shoes. The thrill of the flirtation. The flattery of being wooed by a President. The naiveté about the consequences. The stupidity … of being 22.

“I doubt most people could survive being defined by the least advisable sexual encounter they’ve engaged in,” says the feminist writer Amanda Marcotte. “She was young and dumb, but it was consensual. He has more responsibility, being both married and older.”

And yet at the time, Lewinsky had few defenders, even among feminists — her identity, not just her behavior, systematically torn apart. In a column in TIME, Barbara Ehrenreich lamented that the days after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke had been “The Week Feminists Got Laryngitis.” And when they did speak up, it wasn’t pretty: “My dental hygienist pointed out she had third-stage gum disease,” quipped Erica Jong. “If anything, it sounds like she put the moves on him,” said Backlash author Susan Faludi. “Even mainstream feminists, who you’d think would come out and say, ‘You know, here’s this poor young woman being exploited, let’s take her side,’ they’re not taking her side,” Katie Roiphe mused as part of a New York Observer roundtable with Jong and others held at the time that is once again making the rounds.

“The national reaction against Monica 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,” 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.”

And yet the Lewinsky scandal would play out differently today. Remember, this was pre-sexting, pre-orchestrated sex tapes, pre-Paris Hilton. There was no social media, no feminist blogs, no Rachel Maddow. “No infrastructure,” as Pozner puts it, “to push back against the echo chamber.” Yes, there’s a long history of political sex scandals, but today we’re somewhat immune from the shock factor: we’d never remember where we were when one or another was first revealed. There have simply been too many to count.

“I think it was a unique moment in time,” says Pozner of the collective shaming of Lewinsky. “She was young, she was single, she wasn’t connected to money or much of a support system, and so she was sort of like an Etch A Sketch for whatever the right wing and/or media wanted to map onto her. And she didn’t have a PR machine behind her, she didn’t have an activist machine behind her, so she didn’t have the support or audience to change the narrative.”

She’s got it now. The problem: it’s too late.

Correction: The original version of this story misspelled Rachel Maddow’s name.

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