Hi, Kate! For some reason, Tumblr isn’t letting me post answers longer than a few lines right now; thus the screengrabs.
So, here’s the key question: Are you prepared to do a lot of educating? Or do you want to tell this dude off, drop the mic, and walk?
The difficulty of calling out sexism in this context is that you’ll have an extra layer of writer-defensiveness spiking back, so if your goal is to legitimately make this classmate think and maybe change their mind, you’ll likely need to go a little more delicately than you might elsewhere.
Delicacy is not my forté, and it has been a lot of years since I was in a workshop class—my recent experience with stuff like this is mostly as an editor, which is a very, very different dynamic—so I asked the advice of Nick Mamatas, who, in addition to being a kickass author and human, teaches workshops at the Writing Salon. Here’s what Nick suggests:
I would say something like “This character is the sort I’ve seen in a lot of stories—sexy, manipulative, and then an abuse victim to explain it all. it’s a cliche, something you might see in a melodrama. Also, some people might wonder if the depiction itself is sexist.”
I’d also suggest watching the Jay Smooth video "How to Tell People They Sound Racist." It’s not a perfect analogy, obviously, but the advice carries over pretty well. Best of luck!