ISBN is

978-0-684-84316-2 / 0684843161

A RETURN TO MODESTY: Discovering the Lost Virtue

by Shalit, Wendy

Publisher:Free Press

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

The 23-year-old author first heard of "modestyniks"--Orthodox Jewish women who withhold physical contact from men until marriage--while a freshman at Williams College. She was initially fascinated by the way in which they cleave to old ideals, especially amid a sexually saturated contemporary world. But more so, Wendy Shalit was aghast at how modestyniks are dismissed as sick, delusional, or repressed by the secular community. "Why," asks the author, "is sexual modesty so threatening to some that they can only respond to it with charges of abuse or delusion?"

In her thoughtful three-part essay, the author reveals an impressive reading list as she probes the cultural history of sexual modesty for women and considers whether this virtue may be beneficial in today's world--if not an antidote to misogyny. In an age when women are embarrassed by sexual inexperience, when sex education is introduced as early as primary school, and when women suffer more than ever from eating disorders, stalking, sexual harassment, and date rape, Shalit believes a return to modesty may place women on equal footing with men. She yearns for a time when conservatives can believe the claims of feminists and feminists can differentiate between patriarchy and misogyny and share in the dialectic of female sexuality.

While the young author's argument is often limited by naiveté and her own lack of experience, her profound intelligence and daring are undeniable. A Return to Modesty is a thought-provoking debut that introduces an original and exciting new feminist thinker. --Kera Bolonik

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