Her Way: Young Women Remake the Sexual Revolution

By Paula Kamen | Go to book overview

Introduction: The Sexual Evolution toward
Female Control

I want to be the girl with the most cake.

—Courtney Love and Hole, “Doll Parts,” from Live through This, 1994

And I made up my mind to find my own destiny. And deep in my heart
the answer it was in me.

—Lauryn Hill, title song, “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill,” 1998

President William Jefferson Clinton will not be remembered as being naive about the ways of women. Yet he met more than his match in the 21-yearold White House intern Monica Lewinsky, whose ambition and audacity he disastrously underestimated. A few months before their relationship became public, a puzzled Clinton admitted to her, “If I had known what kind of a person you really were, I wouldn't have gotten involved with you” (Starr Report 1998, B6). What Clinton did not realize was that Lewinsky's behavior was that of a new generation of women.

To explain Monica Lewinsky, you have to explain Monica Lewinsky's generation, which plays by rules entirely different from those of its predecessor. Lewinsky is one of the women born during and shaped by the sexual revolution, the women's movement, resulting in new education and work opportunities for women, new religious freedoms, and the information age. Sharing more of men's power, sense of entitlement, and social clout, Lewinsky's peers generally feel more comfortable than did earlier generations in aggressively and unapologetically pursuing their own interests in sexual relationships, that is, doing it “her way.” This highly individualistic generation is unpredictable and idiosyncratic in their behavior, not conforming to one neat and rigid mold, as women (and men) did in the past. Using their own taste as their barometer, they have a broad menu of choices at their fingertips (for

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