It's not that often that I feel absolutely infuriated during English class.
But this semester, at my all-girls school, I'm taking an elective entitled "Gender and Sexuality." Last night, our homework was to read about date rape from the point of view of Paglia.
My mother teaches a class on gender discrimination at USC, and today, coincidentally, a group of students presented a project on date rape. These students interviewed other students, and a number of the students interviewed expressed the sentiment that, for example, a young woman getting drunk at a fraternity party and going upstairs with a boy alone at said party is "asking for it." That really, it wasn't date rape if she ended up having sex with that boy. Camille Paglia supports this view, correctly acknowledging that feminists call her opinions "blaming the victim." Paglia calls it common sense.
I am seventeen years old, and this fall I will be starting college. I know that I have to make smart choices, and that the above situation is dangerous and I shouldn't put myself into it. I have common sense. Unfortunately, not all female college students do. But just because a girl makes a stupid decision doesn't mean that she is responsible if that decision leads to her being raped. Look at it this way: If I were to leave my car unlocked by mistake one night, and during the night, something was stolen from my car, would it be my fault? No. It would be the thief's fault. And no matter how drunk a girl is, it is never her fault if she gets raped.
Today, in English class, we discussed our Paglia reading from the night before. In a classroom of fifteen girls, not a single one agreed with Paglia. For forty-five minutes we proclaimed and explained our disagreement with what Paglia had to say, all the while analyzing her rhetorical strategies (this is an AP English class, after all.) After that class, I was surprised to hear about the USC students who agreed with Paglia's arguments.
Attending an all-girls school, are my classmates and I more likely to become feminists -- who, Paglia says, have the issue of date rape all wrong? Maybe. But during a class discussion earlier this year, most of my classmates said that they wouldn't call themselves "feminists." Yet, today, all of us took the "feminist" point of view.
And, how could we not? Young women face plenty of challenges in the world today. Criticism from other women, like Camille Paglia, is not only undue, it is detrimental to our struggle and growth as women, as college students, and sometimes, unfortunately, as date rape victims.
If we as women won't stand up for each other, then who will?
Follow Isabel Kaplan on Twitter: www.twitter.com/isabelkaplan