wisconsin capitol
Press Release
March 11, 2016
Media Contact
Mike Browne, Deputy Director
(608) 444-3483
Cody Oliphant

Justice Rebecca Bradley Blamed Victims of Sexual Assault in Earlier Writings, Refuses to Accept Responsibility for Her Reprehensible Victim Blaming

When Asked About Marquette Journal Article by Media, Bradley Refused to Renounce, Denied Writing What She Wrote

MADISON, Wis. — Rebecca Bradley refused to repudiate and even disputed that she wrote in the Marquette Journal that controversial author Camille Paglia, “legitimately suggested that women play a role in date rape.” The writings of the author praised by Justice Bradley are as shocking as Bradley’s own writing and her refusal to immediately disavow her suggestion that women are responsible for sexual violence perpetrated against them.

“To use the word ‘legitimate’ when commenting on the suggestion that women are responsible for the violence perpetrated against them is shocking,” said One Wisconsin Now Research Director Jenni Dye. “She’s only made it worse by refusing to repudiate this reprehensible victim blaming.”

In her article, Bradley was praising writings by Camille Paglia, who she notes authored the book Sexual Personae. In that publication Paglia wrote that, “Women’s flirtatious arts of self-concealment mean man’s approach must take the form of rape.” She also said, “The sexes are eternally at war. There is an element of attack, of search-and-destroy in male sex, in which there will always be a potential for rape.”

Paglia wrote in an article on date rape published the year before Bradley’s that, “Feminism, with its solemn Carry Nation repressiveness, does not see what is for men the eroticism or fun element in rape, especially the wild, infectious delirium of gang rape. Women who do not understand rape cannot defend themselves against it.”

In an interview with the magazine Spin, published in Paglia’s 1992 collection Sex, Art and American Culture, Paglia commented, “I dislike anything that treats women as if they are special, frail little creatures. We don’t need special protection. Rape is an assault. If it is a totally devastating psychological experience for a woman, then she doesn’t have a proper attitude toward sex. It’s this whole stupid feminist thing about how we are basically nurturing, benevolent people, and sex is a wonderful thing between two equals. With that kind of attitude, then of course rape is going to be a total violation of your entire life, because you had a stupid, naive, Mary Poppins view of life to begin with.”

When first questioned about her writing agreeing with Paglia, and suggesting that women were in part to blame for their own rape, Bradley refused to denounce her earlier writing, saying she would need to go back and re-read her column. In a later interview, Bradley even tried to deny having written what she wrote.

Dye concluded, “Blaming the victim of sexual assault is never acceptable, not when Bradley wrote her words and not now. How can we trust Rebecca Bradley on our state’s highest court when she will neither accept responsibility for what she wrote or repudiate it? She needs to own up to her words and do the right thing, resign.”

# # #

One Wisconsin Now is a statewide communications network specializing in effective earned media and online organizing to advance progressive leadership and values.

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