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I had just read Wendy Shalit's "Return to Modesty: Rediscovering the Lost Virtue", and would like to know what, if any, response feminists have to it. I understand that conservatives, such as Norman Podhoretz, have praised this work and that modesty may be a current trend, as seen in the return of swing dancing and Shakespeare at most college campuses, but is modesty really the new "direction" of feminism? I would appreciate any help at all.

- Young May Cha

Thanks for your note to FEMINIST.COM and for clarifying what's behind Wendy Shalit's Return to Modesty: Rediscovering the Lost Virtue. I haven't read the entire book, but I have read some of it and paid attention to its coverage in the media. First, it is certainly not a feminist book--because it is trying to prescribe a formula by which women should live their lives--in this instance--modesty. Conversly, feminists support individual women's rights to determine their own sexuality. Also, the media loves it--because it is an entirely media creation. Every few years or so, there is a new book that the media latches on to in an attempt to reroute feminism. In fact, feminists are paying attention to this book.

I personally feel sorry for Shalit. In some ways, I think that she was used by the media to play out the very tired Virgin/Whore division. I think the best way to respond to books such as these is to look at your own expereinces. When I first learned about the book, I looked at my experience and that of all of my friends--and what I discovered is that Shallit's premise isn't visible in the lives of any of my friends, colleagues, etc.... So while it may be her experience, it certainly isn't a groundswell



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