05/09/2014 10:24 am ET Updated May 09, 2014

Monica Lewinsky: Righteous Good Girl

The Washington Post via Getty Images

“Thanks to the Drudge Report, I was possibly the first person whose global humiliation was driven by the Internet,” Monica Lewinsky writes in Vanity Fair. And though her affair with Bill Clinton may have kicked off our modern era of sex scandal — and set the standard for the boom-bust cycles of denial and apology, sexist fascination, and pseudo-celebrity — a lot has changed since 1998. A presidential candidate made a sex tape. Two U.S. Congressmen resigned over flirtations with women they never even met. Slut-shaming entered the lexicon, but so did cyberbullying, sexting, and reality star. Sixteen years after Interngate, technology has managed a neat trick: It’s now possible to have a sex scandal that’s simultaneously more chaste in its execution and far sleazier in its aftermath. Anthony Weiner never got laid, but the woman who sank his mayoral campaign nevertheless made and marketed a Weiner-themed porno.

By comparison, the woman who had “oral-anal contact” in the Oval Office is the portrait of ladylike restraint. Monica also enjoyed a brief period of celebrity, of course (remember when she hosted a dating show?), but as America became increasingly attention-obsessed and media-optimized, she fell into an adult life “so silent … that the buzz in some circles has been that the Clintons must have paid me off; why else would I have refrained from speaking out?”

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