After many disturbing incidents with teenage girl students in my school recently, I have come to the conclusion that some of what we've thrown out may indeed need to be retrieved from the trash.
Namely, a girl's (and, later, a woman's) sense of where her personal boundaries are. The sense that a female needs to protect herself by being demure and holding off the advances of boys and men.
As feminism peeled back the layers of women's sexual oppression, repression, objectification and abuse, women's liberation and women's sexuality became dangerously intertwined. The conservatism and clean-cut image of women was perceived as rigid, patriarchal control. While there is no doubt that this is so, some of that may actually have been in place in order to protect women and help them develop an ability to clearly define what did and did not feel comfortable, an ability so many of our young women are lacking today.
In the fun-house media mirror, feminism has had a weird, distorted interpretation and now, in the name of "free young women," so many are showing things only their mothers should see on the internet, on Facebook, on webcams, at younger and younger ages, with less and less dignity, shame, morals, ethics or pride.
I had a conversation with my students recently about this topic. One young girl was repeatedly making lewd, highly sexually charged and foul statements. She is the only girl in this particular class with six other teenage boys. One day one of the boys made a comment to her that sent her into a rage. The discussion that followed involved my explaining to her that there is a line of what's appropriate and what's not appropriate and that we all need to respect each other enough not to cross it.
While boys and men need to respect women enough not to cross it on their own, girls and women also need to respect themselves enough to show them where that line is.
This has always been a dangerous topic; people worry you're a man hater if you are not feminine and sexy. Others say you are blaming the victim if an overly sexual female is raped.