05/08/2014 10:11 am ET Updated May 08, 2014

Monica Lewinsky Is The Perfect Person To Kick Off The Conversation About Hillary Clinton's Presidency

Scott Gries via Getty Images

My hope was sparked this week that we just might have a more nuanced conversation about gender and the presidency than we did last time Hillary Clinton ran. The reason for this (admittedly vain) optimism was—perhaps perversely—Monica Lewinsky’s 4,000-word Vanity Fair piece about the aftermath of her self-described “mutual relationship” with Hillary Clinton’s husband, former President Bill Clinton.

No, details of the affair itself don’t have any bearing on Clinton’s qualifications as a still-imaginary 2016 candidate for the White House. But reckoning with what happened two decades ago to both Lewinsky and to Hillary Clinton—in the press, in feminist discourse, in popular culture, and in the American imagination—is very relevant to how we think and talk about women, sex, and power, and those issues will in turn be central to how we understand Clinton’s next potential political campaign.

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