Author Wolf urges unity of ‘slut and good girl’

Matt Paolelli

Feminist author Naomi Wolf huffed and puffed and brought the house down last night with a speech about the volatile world of sexuality on campus, written especially for her Northwestern audience.

In her address to 300 students in Coon Forum, Wolf said that women need to embrace their sexuality, stop trying to be good girls and admit that “we are all sluts.”

According to Wolf, who spoke about the evolution of sex on college campuses, a system of “drunken hook-ups” has replaced the typical dating scene.

“The courtship and slow, romantic exploration of one another has been withering away like the dodo (bird) on many campuses,” she said.

From the outset, Wolf demonstrated that she has no qualms about publicly discussing sexual matters. After adjusting the “piece of phallic technology” better known as a microphone, she opened her speech with a sex joke.

Wolf said the “minefield of mixed messages” about sex on college campuses stems from four dominating images of women in Western culture: the good girl, the slut, the ideal and the porn star. These images become ingrained in the female mind at a young age and contribute to women’s distorted views of their sexuality.

The prevalence of pornography in today’s society only adds to this distortion, said Wolf, who was brought to campus by Women’s Coalition and Hillel Cultural Life.

“When guys you go out with (people who) view pornography, you’re up against a phantom, because you are not (Debbie Does Dallas) or whoever it is,” she said. “I’ve been going to the gym for 20 years and women’s pubic hair is changing. Naked women used to look like naked women, but now they look like porn stars.”

A graduate of Yale University and former Rhodes Scholar, Wolf is the author of several bestselling books, including “The Beauty Myth,” which challenged unrealistic standards for female beauty set by the cosmetics industry. In 1997, she co-founded the Woodhull Institute for Ethical Leadership, an organization that offers professional development programs for women.

After her speech, Wolf used the question and answer session to familiarize herself with NU’s sexual situation. When an audience member revealed that NU’s dating scene is virtually nonexistent, Wolf said she was slightly shocked.

“I feel like I’m teaching you to knit,” she said, after dispensing advice on dating techniques.

NU students said Wolf impressed them.

“I really think she understands college culture very well and was very insightful and perceptive,” said Vicki Burack, a Weinberg sophomore.

Wolf concluded by saying that individuals have the power to change the realities of sexuality on campus and challenged audience members to “go date someone.”

“A girl’s sexuality should be explored and cherished for herself and shared in her own time in her own way,” she said. “That is the world I want, where sluts and good girls — physical and sacred — come together and are one.”