Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Girls Gone Mild/The Good Girl Revolution

I just finished reading Wendy Shalit's Girls Gone Mild (or in paperback: The Good Girl Revolution).  Shalit focuses not only on modesty, but on the influence of pornography on our society and our relationships; sense of self, dignity, and altruism; friendship; bullying; and feminism.   In a nut shell, Shalit says maybe we can make the world a better place by being nice, good, and virtuous.  She still uses some pretty explicit examples throughout, which I hope are not the norm, but they do help her make her point.  It seems to be written for a younger audience (maybe high school), versus a college audience in A Return to Modesty, so it's an easier read.

On Friendship (chapter 5)
  • Women need to be more supportive of one another; knock off all the competition, sexual and otherwise.
On Feminism
  • ". . . the meaning of feminism is up for grabs right now.  The ground is rumbling, and the ideological fault lines are shifting. . ." (206-7).
  • "'. . . the sexual revolution's excesses have led to a devaluation of women and men.  We're playing into the dumbness of men and the dumbness of women'" (208).  I like that she includes men here.  If women want to be like men, why don't we try to copy good men, rather than the most base?
  • "The word itself [feminism] has become almost meaningless---and can refer to diametrically opposed ideas---and yet hearing what feminism means to others is still interesting and can tell you a lot.  Some people use the term to signal that they care about the dignity of women.  Others use it to indicate that they want to fight the notion of being dignified at all.  Usually to the youngest feminists, the idea of decency is tremendously appealing. . ." (208-9).  I identify with the dignity side.
  • One woman who went along with the feminist movement of the 1970s said, "'Now that I'm on the other side of life, I feel completely ripped off by the feminists.  I ended up with [STDs] and two unwanted pregnancies which I terminated. . . .  My supposed sexual liberation brought me lots of heartbreak and regrets, far outweighing the jollies.  The feminists simply don't acknowledge the downside of this supposed liberation'" (211-212).
  • '"To become a mother". . . is something that nearly "every girlfriend that I know" wants. . . .  "We're in our early thirties and there is that time that you have, and most of my friends do want that, and that is just the reality. . . . Your priorities change"' (216). 
  • ". . .I came to think of these younger feminists as part of a fourth wave. . . . The  fourth-wavers question pornography instead of wishing to star in it.  They are more likely to be fans of Florence Nightingale than Nina Hartley [I don't know who that is, and I'm not going to Google it].  They are most taken with earlier feminists, the nineteenth-century women who were temperance advocates as much as suffragists.  The suffragists argued that women should own property and have the right to vote precisely so that they might improve society with their moral perspective and their feminized heroism.  The early feminists also believed in the sacredness of sexuality, it's interesting to note" (219).
  • [Caring for a family] can seem less significant only if your sole criterion is external approval. . . .  . . .Does this mean that our private actions are intrinsically any less significant [than public]? (223)

I didn't find the book as amazing as I found A Return to Modesty, probably because the topic wasn't so new to me anymore.   I don't know that you need to read both of Shalit's books, but one will broaden your perspective on modesty.

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