For Allison Yarrow, author of “90s Bitch,” the decade was characterized by a phenomenon called “bitchification.” Now she says we need to reckon with the decade’s media sexism.
“Any woman covered by the news was maligned, objectified, and dismissed, often with the word bitch,” she said. “We have so much to gain from a fresh look, or at the very least, an honest appraisal of the ’90s. We must, or we risk repeating the mistakes of the past.”
The Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky scandal, became labeled as simply, the Monica Lewinsky scandal and cast the young intern as a “blow job queen.” During the OJ Simpson trial, lawyer Marcia Clark was framed as an unqualified teenager and a bad mom. Anita Hill testified that Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas sexually harassed her—but the media labeled her as a “scorned woman” and “a little bit slutty.” Lorena Bobbitt and Tonya Harding also became punchlines in the media. They also treated woman of color more poorly than white women, portraying them as jezebels and sapphires, hypersexual, angry, and threatening.
Yarrow says we’re still experiencing the aftermath of the media’s antagonization of women, but fortunately, some of these women are getting justice.Tonya Harding’s biopic “I, Tonya” humanized her and celebrated her accomplishments, Anita Hill has been repainted as a hero, and the alleged abuse Lorena Bobbitt faced is finally getting recognition.
“Today, we are faced with a very different media revolution—the social media revolution,” she said. “Through the lens of #MeToo and #TIMESUP, we can see the harm the ’90s caused.”