There is a school of psychoanalytic therapy (the Masterson Approach) where if you want someone to move away from their false selves into becoming their true selves, so long as they're not narcissistic -- who'll run away if you try this with them -- but rather borderlines, you confront them. In Molly Ringwald's essay on John Hughes she summarizes John Bender as a sexual harrasser -- that he is only someone interested in hurting her character Claire. My experience of this film is that without Bender, none of them would have emerged out roles that give them esteem from their peers and from their elders but which may not reflect their own interests and desires; none of them would have emerged out of being "brainwashed" and see what else out there might actually suit them.
Ringwald sees the finish where she ends up with Bender as further evidence of the invisibility of sexual harassment in the film: you weren't harassed, but probably had a crush on your ostensible "victimizer" the whole time. It didn't feel this way to me -- that is, an abnegation of her and her pain -- but rather more like a decision on her part to try dating someone who didn't let her get away with things that ultimately wouldn't be of help to her; with someone she was coming to see as helpful and heroic, rather than the person she had learned to superimpose on him, regardless of who he actually was, to "fit" her own regressed self-image needs: the loser who doesn't count at all.
What do you think?