A return To Modesty : Discovering the Lost Virtue By Wendy Shalit



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Part Three: The Return
9. Against the Curing of Womanhood
The third part of the book is where Shalit begins to offer a solution for the previously stated problems facing society. In this chapter she debates the idea that the solution is to do away with feminine sensitivity with medication.
“ A woman soon learn that all blame for suffering lies within herself, for being too “sensitive.” She resents this sensitivity of hers, then trivializes It, and finally she acts in such a way as to constantly negate it” pg. 168
Are there any merits to a woman not indulging her sensitivity? The author paints a quite negative picture of anti-depressants; is this a reasonable portrayal?
10. Modesty and the Erotic
Chapter 10 correlates the lack of modesty with a numbness to sexuality. She uses examples of nudist colonies, coed wrestling and classic movies.

“Without modesty, we are lost – not excited by anything much, and not knowing what the problem is” (pg 180)…”Modesty is proof that morality is sexy” (193).


Whether or not Shalit has been persuasive thus far, is this last claim valid, if so why has it failed to be hugely effective in changing society?
11. Pining for Interference
This Chapter Shalit advocates as part of her solution the involvement of parents. Not only do women need to be loved and accepted as they are, as argued in the previous chapter, but just as all humans, need boundaries and structure:
“Since there will be no ‘interference’ each assumes there is something wrong with her…What’s truly oppressive to girls is presenting them with a false picture, one without any irregularities or complications” (210).
Would more parental involvement be a positive influence on the state of young women or does it contribute to a spirit of rebellion as some argue? Is divorce as black a picture as Shalit paints it?

12. Beyond Modernity


In this chapter Shalit presents the experiences of a few young women and men who have opted for more conservative lifestyle there parents. Most of her examples are the testimonies of Jewish or Muslim women.
“ ‘The Islamic dress code is based on the Islamic belief that sexual urges are a natural and normal part of the human experience…In order to prevent our natural feelings…from overpowering our logic and dictating our behavior…both men and women should cover up’” (218)
How does this belief differ from the Jewish concept of “tzniut”? How does this explanation seem In light of oppression of women seen in parts of the Muslim world?
A Modest Conclusion: Innocence
In her conclusion Shalit expresses a very simple and somewhat vague suggestion:
“Sexual modesty is a virtue for us, and I predict will become a virtue for increasing numbers of us because it’s a way of affirming our essential innocence” pg 244
This conclusion is based on Shalit ’s basic belief that on some level humans are capable of more than satisfying desires for material, status, lust. How does this idea of appealing to the higher nature of humans serve to call us on and to what extent does it fail to address perhaps the reality of lower human tendencies?


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