SC&A Enter The Chick Zone
We were perusing Studio Blog, a fine effort by one very multi-talented Mary Burr (the image on her top post will end up in the Smithsonian), when we came across a post in which she mentions Wendy Shalit's Modesty Zone. Now, to fully appreciate the website and blog, you have to understand Wendy Shalit herself. She is the author of A Return To Modesty: Discovering The Lost Virtue.
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?"We were about to move on, when we noticed a vicious New York Times review- a sure sign Ms Shalit more than annoyed Maureen Dowd, et al, at the times.
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.
Populated by lecherous men, lovelorn young women and beaming virgins ... [Wendy Shalit's] world has the tell-tale contours of caricature. Likewise her solution to its ills.Taking responsibility for one's own actions are anathema to the New York Times. Why, if everybody did that, how could the Times assign agendized blame?
The Amazon reviews are a fascinationg read. With 161 (so far) reviews, Ms Shalit has still managed a 4/5 star rating.
On a blog post about the higher cost of dressing modestly (Ms Shalit refers to her quest in finding the 'right' First Communion dress), she makes the rather nuanced observation that
Perhaps we lovers of modesty should be grateful in a backhanded kind of way, since it makes us cherish the cultivation of virtue more by making us put a bigger investment into it. Or perhaps this is the market’s unintentional way of encouraging us to consider the so-called French Girl solution: buying fewer, better clothes and wearing them more often (though I have a hunch that the fashion industry wouldn’t be too pleased if America’s women did this en masse).Her remarks though almost off handed, on the surface, forces many women to address their own values, a serious matter indeed. What is the cost of slavery to fashion? According to Ms Shalit, it is far less than the value of freedom from the chains that bind women to.
Now, don't get us wrong. We have no desire to be in proximity to any woman in a handmade peasant dress that started life as potato sack. Nor do we regard braided armpits, unshaved legs and granny birkenstocks with tire tread soles, as desirable attributes for women.
That said, there is something to a woman that leaves even more than a little to the imagination. There is something very sexy about a woman that makes your mind wonder/wander. Think about that- guys understand very well the instant attraction and heightened awareness when a 'mysterious' female enters the field of view. We become mesmerized by the mystery (Women know that experience as well- many can play that scenario like Mozart played the piano). Sure we like the wonder/wandering to end at some point, but clearly, the 'chase' is only made more exciting by not knowing everything- not unlike perusing an exoic menu.
Wendy Shalit's blog is like any other blog- there are things you'll like and other things that will make you roll your eyes.
There are also things that will really make you think- men and women alike.