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A Return to Modesty

Discovering the Lost Virtue

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Paperback published by Free Press (Free Press)

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About This Book
Revised and updated, this fifteenth anniversary edition of A Return to Modesty reignites Wendy Shalit’s controversial claim that we have lost our respect for an essential virtue: modesty.

When A Return to Modesty was first published in 1999, it began an important and much-needed national conversation. Wendy Shalit persuasively argued that modesty is not some hang-up we should set out to cure, but rather a wonderful instinct that, if rediscovered and given the right social support, has the power to transform society. Now, in this newly revised edition, Shalit backs up her claim with the latest trends and research to prove that the issue is just as pressing today as ever.

Unfortunately, many problems Shalit originally explored, such as date rape, harassment, and most alarmingly, the sexualization of young girls, have only become more prevalant. Where once a young woman was ashamed of her sexual experience, today she is ashamed of her sexual inexperience. And as we continue to push the limits of what is accepted behavior, the pressure to overcome embarrassment and discard all sense of modesty is greater than ever.

A Return to Modesty is a deeply personal account as well as a fascinating intellectual exploration into everything from seventeenth-century manners to the 1948 tune “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Beholden neither to social conservatives nor to feminists, Shalit reminds us that modesty is not prudery, but a natural instinct—and one that may be able to save us from ourselves.
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Revised and updated, this fifteenth anniversary edition of A Return to Modesty reignites Wendy Shalit’s controversial claim that we have lost our respect for an essential virtue: modesty.

When A Return to Modesty was first published in 1999, it began an important and much-needed national conversation. Wendy Shalit persuasively argued that modesty is not some hang-up we should set out to cure, but rather a wonderful instinct that, if rediscovered and given the right social support, has the power to transform society. Now, in this newly revised edition, Shalit backs up her claim with the latest trends and research to prove that the issue is just as pressing today as ever.

Unfortunately, many problems Shalit originally explored, such as date rape, harassment, and most alarmingly, the sexualization of young girls, have only become more prevalant. Where once a young woman was ashamed of her sexual experience, today she is ashamed of her sexual inexperience. And as we continue to push the limits of what is accepted behavior, the pressure to overcome embarrassment and discard all sense of modesty is greater than ever.

A Return to Modesty is a deeply personal account as well as a fascinating intellectual exploration into everything from seventeenth-century manners to the 1948 tune “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Beholden neither to social conservatives nor to feminists, Shalit reminds us that modesty is not prudery, but a natural instinct—and one that may be able to save us from ourselves.
Product Details
Paperback (304 pages)
Published: January 24, 2000
Publisher: Free Press
Imprint: Free Press
ISBN: 9780684863177
Other books byWendy Shalit
  • Girls Gone Mild

    Girls Gone Mild
    Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's...
    At twenty-three, Wendy Shalit punctured conventional wisdom with A Return to Modesty, arguing that our hope for true lasting love is not a problem to be fixed but rather a wonderful instinct that forms the basis for civilization. Now, in Girls Gone Mild, the brilliantly outspoken author investigates an emerging new movement. Despite nearly-naked teen models posing seductively to sell us practically everything, and the proliferation of homemade sex tapes as star-making vehicles, a youth-led rebellion is already changing course. In Seattle and Pittsburgh, teenage girls protest against companies that sell sleazy clothing. Online, a nineteen-year-old describes her struggles with her mother, who she feels is pressuring her to lose her virginity. In a small town outside Philadelphia, an eleventh-grade girl, upset over a “dirty book” read aloud in English class, takes her case to the school board. These are not your mother’s rebels. In an age where pornography is mainstream, teen clothing seems stripper-patented, and “experts” recommend that we learn to be emotionally detached about sex, a key (and callously) targeted audience–girls–is fed up. Drawing on numerous studies and interviews, Shalit makes the case that today’s virulent “bad girl” mindset most truly oppresses young women. Nowadays, as even the youngest teenage girls feel the pressure to become cold sex sirens, put their bodies on public display, and suppress their feelings in order to feel accepted and (temporarily) loved, many young women are realizing that “friends with benefits” are often anything but. And as these girls speak for themselves, we see that what is expected of them turns out to be very different from what is in their own hearts. Shalit reveals how the media, one’s peers, and even parents can undermine girls’ quests for their authentic selves, details the problems of sex without intimacy, and explains what it means to break from the herd mentality and choose integrity over popularity. Written with sincerity and upbeat humor, Girls Gone Mild rescues the good girl from the realm of mythology and old manners guides to show that today’s version is the real rebel: She is not “people pleasing” or repressed; she is simply reclaiming her individuality. These empowering stories are sure to be an inspiration to teenagers and parents alike.

    The Good Girl Revolution

    The Good Girl Revolution
    Young Rebels with Self-Esteem and High Standards
    Across the country, there’s a youth-led rebellion challenging the status quo. In Seattle and Pittsburgh, teenage girls protest against companies that sell sleazy clothing. Online, a nineteen-year-old describes her struggles with her mother, who she feels is pressuring her to lose her virginity. In a small town outside Philadelphia, an eleventh-grade girl, upset over a “dirty book” read aloud in English class, takes her case to the school board. These are not your mother’s rebels. Drawing on numerous studies and interviews, the brilliant Wendy Shalit makes the case that today’s virulent “bad girl” mindset truly oppresses young women. She reveals how the media, one’s peers, and even parents can undermine girls’ quests for their authentic selves, and explains what it means to break from the herd mentality and choose integrity over popularity. Written with sincerity and upbeat humor, The Good Girl Revolution rescues the good girl from the realm of mythology and old manners guides to show that today’ s version is the real rebel. Society may perceive the good girl as “mild,” but Shalit demonstrates that she is in fact the opposite. The new female role models are not “people pleasing” or repressed; they are outspoken and reclaiming their individuality. These empowering stories are sure to be an inspiration to teenagers and parents alike. Join the conversation at www.thegoodgirlrevolution.com

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