Monica Lewinsky was only 22 years old when Bill Clinton made advances on her, and why doesn’t anyone ever talk about that?

Despite the fact that the Bill Clinton/Monica Lewinsky scandal happened 20 years ago, people are still talking about it — especially where Lewinsky is concerned. The affair between the former president and his intern (and the impeachment trial that followed) made major headlines in 1998, but Lewinsky hasn’t been able to leave that period of time in her past. Even today, people are quick to judge her and make jokes about her, but there’s a serious flaw in that kind of thinking. Let’s not forget that Monica Lewinsky was only 22 years old when the Clinton scandal happened, so why is America, as a country, still so hard on her?

Think about it: 22 is really young.

It’s a time when many of us are still in college, and we still have a lot of growing to do. Many of us, at 22, made mistakes we’d never want to talk about now, but for Lewinsky, not talking about it has never been an option. Regardless of whether or not you believe Lewinsky was complicit in Clinton’s actions, he was the older man in a position of power. Not only did she work for him, but he was also president of the United States at the time — and she was an intern. So why is she mocked, blamed, shamed, and cast out for what happened, while Clinton has gone on to thrive?

The impact of what happened back then is something that affected Lewinsky deeply then and still hurts her now. In fact, she wrote in a new essay for Vanity Fair that the scandal left her with a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Lewinsky wrote:

"Yes, I had received many letters of support in 1998. And, yes (thank God!), I had my family and friends to support me. But by and large I had been alone. So. Very. Alone. Publicly Alone — abandoned most of all by the key figure in the crisis, who actually knew me well and intimately. That I had made mistakes, on that we can all agree. But swimming in that sea of Aloneness was terrifying."

It was a different time then, and we have made so much progress since — so why are we still discussing the situation in the same way? In the era of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, we should be empowering women who are brave enough to tell their stories and open to the idea that nothing, including this scandal, is ever black and white.

Now that 20 years have passed since the Monica Lewinsky/Bill Clinton scandal, maybe it’s time to finally change the way we talk about it.

Especially with all the progress that has recently been made as more women come forward about their own experiences with men in positions of power. We’ve all done things we’d like to forget, but perhaps it’s time to reconsider the way we talk about the actions of a woman who was young, vulnerable as an intern, and reporting to the most powerful man in the nation.