The setting of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" is 1960s America. Do you think the story still speaks to women today?

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Although the answer to this question will be an opinion, not a fact, the reality is that this story is often anthologized, assigned, and discussed even today, which lends credence to the idea that, yes, it still speaks to women.

(Readers should note that Oates's story, as well as the...

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Although the answer to this question will be an opinion, not a fact, the reality is that this story is often anthologized, assigned, and discussed even today, which lends credence to the idea that, yes, it still speaks to women.

(Readers should note that Oates's story, as well as the discussion below, touches on themes that are controversial and violent. This content is inappropriate for children.)

Consider a few of the themes of the story and why they're still highly relevant right now:

1. Popular culture, especially movies and songs, commands young women to expect certain things when it comes to romance, relationships, and sex. Look no further than Facebook or Reddit right now to confirm that this problem remains rampant. Popular articles shared daily among women have titles like "Thirty Lies Disney Told Me about Love." Like Connie in the story, women today still struggle to sort out romantic and sexual realities from the expectations ingrained in us through popular culture.

2. There's a fine line between flirtation and dominance, and both involve a power play that can become frightening. Seduction, or attempts at seduction, can lead to violence and murder. This theme is familiar to modern women, and so the story has value in the warning it offers. The staggering popularity of songs that glorify sexual violence, like Katy Perry's "E. T. (featuring Kanye West)" or Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines," as well as novels that do likewise, such as Fifty Shades of Grey, causes general concern that even today, as a society, we're too willing to accept (or even be enthralled by) the idea that men should seduce, dominate, and own women. Right now, you can pull up a news site like CNN.com or any popular blog and find evidence of our ongoing struggle against "rape culture." And it's not just the United States experiencing this struggle: look to Aziz Ansari's new book Modern Romance for a detailed discussion of how Brazilian women today deal with their culture's acceptance of, even celebration of, the kind of physical expressions of flirtation that people in other countries call sexual harassment and even sexual assault.

3. Evil takes different forms and is present in any society at any time. Consider Arnold Friend from the story, the would-be rapist, and note how he's basically the devil in a poorly disguised human form. This aspect of the story reminds women today that for all the advancements society has made in human rights and in women's rights, we can't lapse into complacency if we want to maintain our morals and our safety or keep moving forward toward gender equality. Look to Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala, for example, for a discussion of how some people today still struggle to keep women uneducated and isolated "for their own protection"--a current, real, poorly disguised evil intention.

So, yes: For people around the world who share Malala's vision of education and equality for women, and for women who care about combating rape culture in the popular media, Oates's story still speaks to us.

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