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Description - A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit

At the same time that young women today enjoy the right to unparalleled opportunities, Wendy Shalit argues, there has been a marked increase in sexual harrassment and date-rape. With sex education beginning at school and sexual promisicuity encouraged in the media and at college, it has become almost impossible for a young woman to say 'no' to sex. Those who do are labelled 'repressed' and their desire for romantic love is ridiculed. Is it any wonder that young women today suffer from anorexia, bulimia, and other disorders? In A RETURN TO MODESTY Shalit explores the philosophical debate over modesty and knocks down the accompanying myths one by one. Female modesty is not about a 'sexual double standard', as is often thought, but is related to male virtue and honour. Modesty is not a social construct, but a natural response. And modesty is not prudery, but a way to preserve a sense of the erotic in our lives. By asserting their right to take intimacy seriously, girls can find the happiness they would otherwise be denied in a culture that has discarded the idea of feminine virtue.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780684863177
ISBN-10: 0684863170
Format: Paperback
(214mm x 139mm x 20mm)
Pages: 304
Imprint: Pocket Books
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publish Date: 7-Mar-2000
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit

Book Reviews - A Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit

UK Kirkus Review » Praised in the USA for its no-nonsense approach to assessing how society has understood and exploited an ideal of modesty over the centuries, this book is in fact extremely annoying. The author obviously wants to come across as accessible - which is of course commendable - but she ends up 'dumbing down' so much that you lose patience. For example: she really expects you to believe that when she first heard the Jewish word tzniut, she thought it was a sneeze. Get real, Wendy! Not only does her text suffer from this dumbing down, her arguments are often thin and naive, and she writes from a surprisingly narrow perspective. To put it simply, the book just does not work. (Kirkus UK)

US Kirkus Review » A heartfelt (and controversial) plea, insisting that the power to heal the American female's ills lies in the reinstatement of sexual restraint, resurrection of romantic ideals, and simple good manners. Twenty-three-year-old Williams College graduate Shalit, whose 15 minutes of fame arrived when her red-faced critique of co-ed bathrooms on campus reached the pages of Reader's Digest, has produced a daring book aimed at the core of contemporary gender theory. Shalit demonstrates familiarity with both conservative and feminist explanations of women's problems such as eating disorders, teen pregnancy, date rape, and stalking, but presents what she terms a "middle path" to elucidating and curing these problems. It is natural for women to be modest, she argues, and low self-esteem and disrespect from men were natural consequences of the promotion of sexual promiscuity among young people of both sexes. There is true compassion for women's sense of self in her critique of premarital sexual practices, and she insists that while male behavior is often unacceptable and degrading to women, men are only acting rationally within the constraints of popular expectations. She finds that despite the stigma placed on modesty today some traces remain, pointing towards the primordial defenses that once protected women by placing them out of reach of men who were not prepared to commit and treat them with respect. Orthodox Jewish rules of modesty and Islamic dress provide Shalit with material to show the benefits of restraint in male-female relations: it puts women in control of access to their bodies, allows them to preserve the beauty of their romantic aspirations, compels men to invest themselves in relationships, and enhances the erotic potential of eventual intimacy, she says. The message of this book is rarely heard, it is audacious, and it should not be dismissed out of hand - despite Shalit's occasional reliance on women's magazines such as Mademoiselle and Elle as a source of information on the state of the American female soul. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Wendy Shalit

Wendy Shalit received her B.A. in philosophy from Williams College in 1997. A contributing editor of the Manhattan Institute's City Journal, she has written for The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, and other publications. She lives in New York City.

Books By Wendy Shalit

Return to Modesty by Wendy Shalit
Paperback, May 2014
Good Girl Revolution by Wendy Shalit
Paperback / softback, January 2008