Many of us can recall a particular news sensation in the political world of the late 1990s.
And if you were too young (or not yet born) perhaps the names Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky ring a bell? They were the two names connected to one of the most public political scandals of the 90s.
When Lewinsky, a bright 22 year old intern at the White House, was discovered to have had an affair with then-president Bill Clinton. The media went into a frenzy, the people of the United States became critical, and Lewinsky’s world turned upside down. It seemed as though everyone turned on her; the backlash for both parties wasn’t exactly equal.
Since then, she has become an activist and ambassador for anti-bullying organizations. Her talk about the struggles of bullying and being publicly shamed is something both men and women could relate to. She wants us to realize that taking a stand against it is a must.
Now, these two names have taken on a different, more subtle identity.
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In Gabrielle Zevin’s new novel, Young Jane Young: A Novel a female protagonist named Aviva finds herself in a similar boat as Lewinsky once was.
After having an affair with a congressman, who happens to be her boss, the intern begins to watch her life crumble before her eyes. She alone takes the fall for the actions that play out. She faces the backlash and shaming head-on, eventually changing her name and moving some place new. However, it’s only after great consideration that she decides to run for office herself and soon finds out the past is harder to escape than she thought.
With her daughter giving her hope and her strength building, Aviva has a new perspective on the double standards, cyber-bullying, and constant criticism she must face as a woman in this predicament.
Zevin’s novel is sweet, endearing, and powerful. It gives us all a look into what being a woman entails, no matter what age you are. This story resonates with the age of technology and confronts the struggles of moving on from the past when the future doesn’t seem so bright.
This novel empowers the everyday female and sends a message similar to many other works that have been released this year. Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics by Marjorie J. Spruill also discusses the trifecta that is politics, culture, and feminism. It takes us back even before 1995 to 1977 during the National Women’s Conference. Or perhaps Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto by Jessa Crispin, a book discussing an oppressive system and the broken side of modern day feminism. These three authors focus on solid issues that bring them together for something bigger than TV and social media.
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So far, the amount of fans for Zevin’s novel has been growing overnight and they have a voice. The readers of this bittersweet, thought-provoking book even started the Twitter hashtag #iamwithjane which has everyone sharing their thoughts and banning together about the true meaning of this piece. Featured as People Magazine’s “Book of the Week” and on amNewYork’s “What To Read This Week” list, Young Jane Young has become a fast hit.
Times have certainly changed since 22 years ago; people are more aware and support on social media could spread like wildfire. Nowadays, this is a book that leaves us with lessons learned and questions about whether or not the double standard truly lives on.
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