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Rebecca Bradley in 1992: Camille Paglia 'legitimately suggested' women play role in date rape
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Rebecca Bradley in 1992: Camille Paglia 'legitimately suggested' women play role in date rape

State Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley wrote that Camille Paglia "legitimately suggested that women play a role in date rape" as a student at Marquette University. 

Bradley's comment about the academic and cultural critic Paglia was part of a column she wrote for the fall 1992 edition of the Marquette Journal, the university's student-run magazine. 

The column's release comes after several others unearthed this week by the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, including columns referring to gay people as "queers" and those with HIV and AIDS as "degenerates." 

Bradley's column, "Awaiting feminism's demise," was a counterpoint to one by Jeffrey Howe arguing that "Feminism benefits all."

"I intend to expose the feminist movement as largely composed of angry, militant, man-hating lesbians who abhor the traditional family," Bradley wrote, arguing that the feminist movement had been hijacked by the political left, abandoning its role as a defender of women's rights.

Bradley criticized the National Organization for Women, the Women's Campaign Fund and the National Women's Political Caucus for using abortion rights as a litmus test for candidate endorsements in the 1990 Senate elections. 

"Feminists whined about the 'ordeal' perjurer Anita Hill suffered under the male-dominated Senate judiciary committee, yet they vociferously supported members Herb Kohl over Susan Engeleiter and Paul Simon over Lynn Martin in their respective races," Bradley wrote.

Feminists, Bradley wrote, also cooperated with Democrats in "bashing family values."

"Murphy Brown represents the near feminist ideal, as a successful woman who doesn't need a husband for fulfillment or child rearing," Bradley wrote. "The plight of inner city welfare mothers destroys such an appealing illusion. I call Murphy Brown the 'near-perfect' feminist model only because she failed to abort her baby."

Bradley's comments supporting Paglia came in the context of disappointment over Paglia being barred from speaking at several colleges after suggesting women play a role in date rape.

Paglia, in a 1991 Newsday column, wrote women who get drunk at frat parties are "fools" and women who go upstairs with frat brothers are "idiots."

"Feminists will call this 'blaming the victim.' I call it common sense," Paglia wrote.

Bradley also lamented that MIT professor Cynthia Wolff had been "shouted down" and had lost funding for objecting to the promotion of sub-par female professors to fill quotas. 

Asked if she could clarify what she meant when she wrote Paglia "legitimately suggested that women play a role in date rape," Bradley told the Cap Times she would need to go back and look at the column again, noting that it's 24 years old.

"I wrote opinion pieces 24 years ago on a variety of issues, and they are opinions that some people may agree with, some people might disagree with," Bradley said in an interview. "I really haven’t gone back to read all of them. It’s been quite some time."

Jenni Dye, research director for the liberal group One Wisconsin Now, said Bradley shouldn't have to read the column again to address that sentiment.

"What could Rebecca Bradley possibly need to think about? It is abhorrent to blame the victim of a sexual assault, whatever the circumstances. It is disqualifying when you are talking about a judge on the highest court in the state of Wisconsin," Dye said.

Bradley on Tuesday continued to apologize for the column she wrote after President Bill Clinton's election in November 1992, in which she wrote, "how sad that the lives of degenerate drug addicts and queers are valued more than the innocent victims of more prevalent ailments."

She said her perspective started to shift after that column was published, when she learned the effect her words could have on others. 

The strong responses triggered by the column "began a process of change in my life," Bradley said.

Bradley argued that any opinions she may have — current or otherwise — shouldn't be a factor in considering her qualifications for the court.

"At the end of the day, I am called upon to apply the law regardless of how I feel about the law," Bradley said, pledging that she would always do that. "It is our job to apply the law and follow the law regardless of how we feel about the outcome, and to leave lawmaking and policymaking to the people elected to represent us in the Legislature."

Bradley, who was appointed to Gov. Scott Walker to the Supreme Court in October, faces Appeals Court Judge JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election.

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