Girl Gone Mild
July 3, 2007 5:22 AM   Subscribe

Wendy Shalit keeps it genteel. The author of A Return to Modesty recently put out a new book, entitled Girls Gone Mild, "Shalit reveals how the media, one’s peers, and even parents can undermine girls’ quests for their authentic selves, details the problems of sex without intimacy, and explains what it means to break from the herd mentality and choose integrity over popularity." Audio: Shalit on the Diane Rehm Show
posted by psmealey (148 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
There's a Girls Gone Mild site that might give a good overview of the book and related stuff.
posted by pracowity at 5:33 AM on July 3, 2007


Thanks, Pracowity. Not sure why my search didn't bring that up. It's a good addition.
posted by psmealey at 5:34 AM on July 3, 2007


Must read this. I by no means always agree with Wendy Shalit, but she certainly has an interesting and probably useful contrarian perspective.
posted by orange swan at 5:45 AM on July 3, 2007


*flashes an ankle to spice things up*
posted by gomichild at 6:03 AM on July 3, 2007


I've never heard of her, but I read her FAQ. What's the contrarian part? Her thesis seems to be that strong female voice != flashing your tits.
posted by DU at 6:06 AM on July 3, 2007


I'd hit it.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:06 AM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


Wendy Shalit links to "the first abstinence website for Jewish teens" on her blog. Kinda interesting. I went to an Orthodox all-girls school, and I don't think the word "sex" was ever mentioned, even in the capacity of "don't do it." Speaking so boldly would be immodest.
posted by needs more cowbell at 6:15 AM on July 3, 2007


I fall short of celebrating traditional 'modesty' in and of itself, but she makes many good points in this book. A bolder and more strongly critical book about our 'porn culture' and what some women do to themselves in the name of empowerment is Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture by Ariel Levy. I read that a couple of weeks ago and can't stop talking about it to anyone who will listen - Levy nailed the phenomenon of women oversexing themselves without holding up regressive ideas of chastity and purity as the alternative.
posted by Miko at 6:17 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


As a contrarian, I can't help but like Wendy Shalit a little bit and respect her sheer balls putting these ideas across. But this stuff is going to make it a lot harder for teenage boys to lose their virginity, as if it weren't hard enough.
posted by jonmc at 6:21 AM on July 3, 2007


I think she makes some very good points too, but having been a high school outcast/misfit myself, I'm not very sympathetic to claims that "peer pressure" is driving many of these teens to participate in behavior they either abhor, or are very uncomfortable with at the very least. If your friends are behaving like idiots, you are an idiot if you feel like you have to join them to fit in.

I grant this seems easy for me to say, given that my adolescence was 25 years ago (and that I was proud of my outsider stature), but I do think this pressure is overstated.
posted by psmealey at 6:26 AM on July 3, 2007


Oh mah gaw. I hate Wendy Shalit more than anyone else on this entire planet. She seems to think that by harkening back to 1950's standards of modesty we will purify modern womanhood. She seems to think that virtue is proportionally related to the length of one's skirt.

I have no problem with women who decide to be "modest" or whatever, but don't be fooled -- Shalit is a reactionary social conservative through and through and would not stop with the long skirts if she ruled the world. Her primary goal is NOT to encourage girls' "quest for their authentic selves," but rather to dictate what their authentic selves should be: chaste, "modest," and conservative.
posted by footnote at 6:27 AM on July 3, 2007 [7 favorites]


I really disliked "Female Chauvinist Pigs", actually. I felt that it belittled women and had a very patronising tone to it. But that's just me and my dislike for preachy books.
posted by liquorice at 6:29 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm not very sympathetic to claims that "peer pressure" is driving many of these teens to participate in behavior they either abhor, or are very uncomfortable with at the very least.

May I posit the radical theory that a lot of these behaviors aren't abhorred and not caused by peer pressure but are actually enjoyed? Some people do genuinely enjoy rainchy behavior on occasion, myself included.
posted by jonmc at 6:30 AM on July 3, 2007


Some people do genuinely enjoy raunchy behavior on occasion, myself included.

Yeah, Jonmc - according to Shalit and her ilk, girls and women never enjoy raunch. Instead, we're delicate flowers to whom any kind of sexual expression before marriage (be that words, dress, or deeds) would irreparably injure our inherent value.
posted by footnote at 6:34 AM on July 3, 2007


Oh, gawd. Just finished clicking through the links and they had be shuddering. The whole thing reeks of a misguided narrow interpretation of life for a teenage girl in the Western world. Is it such an absurd idea that women might ENJOY having sex? Mothereffin'christ.
posted by liquorice at 6:36 AM on July 3, 2007


I was a little disappointed by her on the Rehm show yesterday - She spent a lot of time conflating sexual identity and personal identity, something I'm not a fan of. I certainly don't think that indiscriminate boob flashing is the way to, well, anything. On the other hand, it seems a little absurd to write someone off as a "bad girl" simply because they like to get it on.

Also, she seemed obviously but hesitantly Christian, and by downplaying it, it felt like she was trying (ineffectively) to hide it. It would have been better if she'd come straight out with "I feel this way because I love Jesus."
posted by god hates math at 6:36 AM on July 3, 2007


exactly, footnote. In my experience women generally have much filthier minds than men, but years of sexism forced them to repress it. Throw of your shackles, sisters...

*stomps around singing 'I Am Woman'*

(last sentence was a joke. the rest not so much)
posted by jonmc at 6:36 AM on July 3, 2007


Also, she seemed obviously but hesitantly Christian,

Actually, I'm fairly sure she's Jewish.
posted by jonmc at 6:37 AM on July 3, 2007


I grant you that she may or may not be a cipher, footnote, but in the interview with Diane Rehm, she does specifically deny that she believes that.

FWIW, I have always found the aggressive/independent riot grrl ethic/attitude to be much more attractive and appealing than the submissive barbie doll/pr0n star thing that seems to have taken over girl culture in the last 10 years. I'm probably just a chauvinistic as anything she decries, just have a different aesthetic sense.
posted by psmealey at 6:41 AM on July 3, 2007


Can anyone explain how this is more than "genteel" (auto)-sexism?

I'm a fan of personal responsibility and probity and all, but is she seriously arguing that pre-maritial sex is bad? Is her end game for women marriage? How very Suzy Housefrau. Cheerful and medicated, one supposes.

Now, I havent read her book, but based on her blog, this appears to be a programme for social repression dressed in taffeta cotton candy.
posted by bonehead at 6:48 AM on July 3, 2007


Actually, I'm fairly sure she's Jewish.

Ahh, yes, you're right. It's insane, then, how much she sounded like the nice Christian girls I knew growing up. She used all the same code words, and everything.
posted by god hates math at 6:49 AM on July 3, 2007


It's insane, then, how much she sounded like the nice Christian girls I knew growing up. She used all the same code words, and everything.

In her first book she rhapsodized about Lubavitcher housewives, and I know from experience that some of the more orthodox Jewish sects can be as hung-up about this stuff as any fundy Christians.

And like I said, if that's what she's comfortable with more power to her, but she (or at least some people promoting her) seem to be on a crusade to impose it on everybody else.
posted by jonmc at 6:53 AM on July 3, 2007


I clicked through the blog and agree that when she wanders off the idea that acting oversexed isn't the same thing as freedom, she's clearly a social conservative who is "viewing with alarm" in a pleasant and mild way. However, footnote, I dislike Ann Coulter a great deal more than Wendy Shalit :) and the various tyrants and evil politicians more than either of them, and I don't disagree with some of what Shalit says. It's so wearing to have femininity be defined as perpetual-girly-sluttishness, as if we were all being turned into pre-op transsexuals being educated into the correct way to be "female."
posted by Peach at 6:55 AM on July 3, 2007


I dislike Ann Coulter a great deal more than Wendy Shalit

I dislike cancer more than pimples, but I'm not thrilled about either.
posted by jonmc at 6:58 AM on July 3, 2007 [8 favorites]


It's so wearing to have femininity be defined as perpetual-girly-sluttishness, as if we were all being turned into pre-op transsexuals being educated into the correct way to be "female."
posted by Peach at 9:55 AM on July 3 [+] [!]


Agreed. But the answer to this is not more sexism and enforced gender norms (which Shalit vigorously promotes) but rather helping girls be truly autonomous to make wise choices in accordance with what feels right to them. And you know what? It's realism about sex, not hysteria about its dangers, that's good for girls (and boys). Just look at the Netherlands... Stopping the obsessive, almost fetishistic, focus on girls' sexuality, of which Shalit is part, would be a good start towards our netherlandification.

And I do hate Shalit more than Ann Coulter! Her seductive overtones of quasi-feminism make her more dangerous.

*stomps around singing 'I Am Woman'*

(last sentence was a joke. the rest not so much)
posted by jonmc at 9:36 AM on July 3 [+] [!]


I know you're not joking -- you know too much to go back and pretend, Jonmc.
posted by footnote at 7:09 AM on July 3, 2007


*roars*
posted by jonmc at 7:11 AM on July 3, 2007


I certainly don't think that indiscriminate boob flashing is the way to, well, anything.

Except, y'know, bare boobs. Which I certainly won't argue against.
posted by jonmc at 7:14 AM on July 3, 2007


Return to Modesty has to be one of the top 5 books that shaped the way I think. I disagree with what the book says more and more as I grow older, but it had a profound impact on me when I first read it as a teen.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:26 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


In one of her blog entries she refers to a " the grizzly-looking man." Gee, not androphobic at all there, are we Wendy?
posted by jonmc at 7:28 AM on July 3, 2007


Maybe she just has melissophobia*.
posted by psmealey at 7:36 AM on July 3, 2007


* fear of bears.
posted by psmealey at 7:36 AM on July 3, 2007


I listened to Shalit on the Rheem show yesterday. Frankly, she came off as a somewhat softer-edged attack dog from the religious right. If you listen, you will hear her constantly trot-out the usual cultural whipping-boys...public schools...public school teachers..."the 60's"...etc.

I found it disappointing that Rehm didn't challenge some of the more outrageous claims Shalit made, especially the ones about school teachers encouraging girls to have sex and whatnot. This just sounds like umpteen other scare stories I've heard repeated over the years as a means to condemn the schools, all without any real way of verifying. I put such claims right up there with claims that Procter and Gamble's logo is a satanic mark. Pap spread among the faithful.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:37 AM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


I found it disappointing that Rehm didn't challenge some of the more outrageous claims Shalit made

She seemed tired or something. I have heard Diane rip into politicians and academics much more accomplished than Shalit, but she failed to do so here. She did challenge Shalit a couple of times on some of the more obtuse claims that sexualization has become institutionalized in colleges and high schools (a well known hobby horse of the reactionary Right), but then failed to follow up them up when Shalit offered still more conjecture as a defense.
posted by psmealey at 7:49 AM on July 3, 2007


Instead, we're delicate flowers to whom any kind of sexual expression before marriage (be that words, dress, or deeds) would irreparably injure our inherent value.

Get closer to the Goddess Stud Puppets!
posted by hotmud at 8:17 AM on July 3, 2007


One definition of modesty is: "Modesty describes a set of culturally determined values that relate to the presentation of the self to others." It's still about presenting oneself to please others, rather than see the world with savvy and be true to oneself, sexually and socially.

In the late 1700's Mary Wollstonecraft wrote in one of her books that the truth about emphasizing women's prettiness is really about pleasing a man's penis, prettifying the orifice. It's been a while since I read it, but I think she wrote that in her book, A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

While I like the fact that Wendy Shalit is working on talking about options for young women, other than appearing as a celeb slut or gangsta bootie, whores for the slaughter, to me it feels like she's preparing girls to be lambs for the slaughter.

In my experience the Good Girls end up on Valium or booze, denying the Bad in themselves and others. And Bad Girls end up on Prozac, because the Bad in oneself or others is hard to bear seeing and feeling. At least Bad girls are available to awakening, if they choose to awaken.

Neither always wild or always mild but a middle path in which all choices are possible based on being true to oneself and others.
posted by nickyskye at 8:24 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Neither always wild or always mild but a middle path in which all choices are possible based on being true to oneself and others.

posted by nickyskye at 10:24 AM


That takes engaged thought, which is pretty damned rare.
posted by Talanvor at 8:37 AM on July 3, 2007


So her thesis is that we should publicly chastise 'slutty' behavior in order make girls more modest (and afraid of their own sexuality)

Bleh, fuck that bitch.

What is it with people who think they should have some say in the way other people run their lives? And I honestly don't understand why people would want to spend so much time thinking about social pressures (towards sluttyness or nonsluttyness).

The sort of social pressure makes sense in history, before the invention of birth control and paternity tests. But we have those things now and we don't need chastity, and we don't need to chastise people because there is no final goal in doing so. Rather then trying to manipulate women through social control, we should be teaching girls not to care about what other people think of them.
posted by Paris Hilton at 8:41 AM on July 3, 2007


In fairness, Paris Hilton, she does insist that is not her goal. Here is what she says,
My goal is not to attack those who want to be “wild,” but rather to expand the range of options for young people, who I believe are suffering because of the limited choices available to them.
While I personally suspect that she's a cipher because she of her reliance on right wing canards to make her points (and whether she means to be or not she certainly is used as a resource for wingnuts), but she's mostly consistent on not condemning anyone else for their choices. She claims mostly be be trying to protect those who fell pressured to succumb, for what that's worth.
posted by psmealey at 9:12 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


we don't need chastity

Eponysterical.
posted by nasreddin at 9:13 AM on July 3, 2007


melissophobia*.

* fear of bears.
Before this mistaken idea perpetuates itself any further, this is incorrect. I assume you got it from this page. "Melissophobia" is fear of bees. "Melissa" is Greek for "bee." Fear of bears is "arctophobia/arktophobia"
posted by deanc at 9:16 AM on July 3, 2007


Thanks, deanc. I looked it up too quickly.
posted by psmealey at 9:17 AM on July 3, 2007


I believe are suffering because of the limited choices available to them.

Well, the ultimate problem with Shalit's whole thesis is that the only two choices are Girls Gone Wild vs. The Flying Nun. (which come to think of it would make an interesting monster movie. or something)
posted by jonmc at 9:22 AM on July 3, 2007


Chastity makes it that much harder to chase titties.
posted by I Foody at 9:24 AM on July 3, 2007


the only two choices are Girls Gone Wild vs. The Flying Nun

I think band camp is a happy medium between the two.
posted by psmealey at 9:27 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Sigh. Shalit, like all the other sex-negative repressive "feminists," needs to get her ass into the kitchen and make me a sandwich. While she's in there, she can make more sandwiches for my friends, the real feminists who think for themselves, own their own bodies, do what they want to do, and know they don't need to conform to somebody else's ideas about how women are supposed to act.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:48 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


I've run across Shalit before (not in person, but her ideas) and the major problem I have with it had to do with her major assumption, namely that current trends in our society wrt female sexuality are the result of some sort of 'bad girl' / porn industry / liberal media / etc. conspiracy, and not simply what a lot of young women want, once the boot of 1950s-style sexual repression has been lifted.

Ultimately, she seems blind to the idea that lots of women may not want the sort of "modesty" that she's selling, and furthermore, are quite OK with a system where it's acceptable for women as well as men to have casual physical relationships and generally experiment with their sexuality without being forced to wear a scarlet letter around.

That idea -- that the prom queen may want to shag the prom king just as much as the other way around -- still seems to really freak a lot of conservatives (particularly, IMO, older conservative women, for reasons I won't speculate on) out. Shalit's ideas just seem to be another straw to grasp at, rather than realizing that very few young people today are at all interested in going back to some chrome-plated, sock-hops-and-milkshakes pre-Sexual Revolution idyll.
posted by Kadin2048 at 9:52 AM on July 3, 2007


we should be teaching girls not to care about what other people think of them

It's a double edged predicament. Not caring at all can and has meant death and scapegoating. Caring too much can lead to being enslaved by others' opinions or a life constantly attempting to appease or avoid others' disapproval.

Not caring about others at all is a life without healthy connection with others, a life without empathy or healthy give and take, ultimately a life without love.

So, imo, a wiser approach is making savvy choices, which often come in the process of learning through suffering, when to care, when not to care and knowing why.
posted by nickyskye at 9:55 AM on July 3, 2007 [2 favorites]


She's no Jessica Alba (who still to this day makes me proud by not getting her baps out - no matter how much cash the studios throw at her).
posted by longbaugh at 9:55 AM on July 3, 2007


My goal is not to attack those who want to be “wild,” but rather to expand the range of options for young people, who I believe are suffering because of the limited choices available to them.

But that doesn't even mean anything. Which is probably par for the course with this sort of groundless, inconsistent 'theory' of a lot of feminism.

It seems like 90% of feminist thought goes something like this:

1) I feel uncomfortable with social pressure
2) Therefore society has a problem and should change, so I no longer feel pressured.

A more reasonable approach would simply be to ignore perceived social pressures entirely. Obviously there could be some consequences later on, but I think for most people those are minimal.

There also seems to be this bizarre neo-puritanical obsession with sex and sexuality, wherein every time a woman has sex with a man, she 'loses' something and a man gains something, therefore in order to 'win' the struggle she and every other woman must 'keep' as much of 'it' as they can. As if simply having sex, or giving it up can be damaging.

And it can be somewhat damaging to other women, in that they now feel they need to compete harder for male attention, but that's actually quite stupid.
posted by Paris Hilton at 9:58 AM on July 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


still seems to really freak a lot of conservatives (particularly, IMO, older conservative women, for reasons I won't speculate on)

Envy, maybe? Leftover religious guilt?

going back to some chrome-plated, sock-hops-and-milkshakes pre-Sexual Revolution idyll.

(I'll be the first to admit that the 'sexual revolution' was a mixed blessing, but going backwards isn't feasible. you can't put the toothpaste back in the tube. and I say that as a big fan of chrome, milkshakes and sock hops.)

digression: Shalit is not a bad looking woman, but that last name has me conjuring up Gene Shalit. (*shudder*) I wonder if Edward Norton has that problem.
posted by jonmc at 10:07 AM on July 3, 2007


Noting that I've not read the book but just reviewed the links and comments in this thread:

To those claiming this was framed in feminist language: this IS feminist. It's what happens when years are spent successfully evading laying forth the axioms of a philosophy.

For the past 40 years feminism has almost universally been adamant that women shouldn't be sexually objectified (and yes I agree with this). This says the same thing just sans the actual desire to have sex. Clearly women do exist with the desire to avoid sex until marriage as is indicated by the fact that this author even exists. It could be said just as easily that modern society conditions the sexually liberated feminist in as much as they claim this old-fashioned manner was socially conditioned for most of history. In fact, the old-fashioned ways will tend to take precedence since the further back to less developed cultures we go, the more instinctual we'll find the patterns in our species with minor oscillations. It brings up very difficult questions about the nature of self hood that feminism hasn't even bothered to answer.

However, you can avoid that question by starting with the moral axioms you intend to employ. I'd recommend taking into account what you perceive to want now, what is best for you in a survival sense, how that impacts others ability to fulfill their wants, and survival, and then state them clearly. Then examine as best you can to find a morally consistent philosophy with them. In fact being that this is a fairly liberal site, I would personally suggest something similar to the social contract to sexuality. Why I've found no author in modern feminist thought (not that I'm a scholar on it and I'm open to any reccomendations) that believes this and certainly no public voice for it despite the general association of feminism with liberalism, is beyond me.

In fact I see Wollstonecraft mentioned above and she was a notably example of having done this. Similarly I'd suggest Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony did though I've only read excerpts of their works. Of course, their philosophies were based in a world prior to the near end of scarcity, birth control, provalactics, and many other changes that directly effect the sexual playing fields in ways which they were not fortunate to have at the time.

btw, if anyone has read her book, is she proposing that women be meek and not intellectually assertive or just sexually modest?
posted by kigpig at 10:11 AM on July 3, 2007


Oh, and as far as her actual thesis:
The prevailing wisdom is that exposure to vast amounts of gossip, particularly about Hollywood’s so-called bad girls — Ms. Hilton, Ms. Spears and Lindsay Lohan, to name the most frequently chastised — is leading America’s impressionable 8-to-12-year-old girls into the gutter. But the reality is more complex....the girls interviewed cited wholesome-seeming celebrities as their favorites: Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale, Hilary Duff, Dakota Fanning, Anne Hathaway and Ms. Spears’s younger, scrubbed sister, Jamie Lynn. Is it possible that today’s tweens have seen enough to inoculate them against the pressures of their teenage years?
OK, so I'm a little biased because this is basically the thesis of my new book,
So her thesis is "basically" that chastising celebrities is a good thing because it reinforces cultural norms.
posted by Paris Hilton at 10:13 AM on July 3, 2007


Well, and I say this as someone who is now working ancillarily with porn, I think she has some good premises, but the tricky part is always extrapolating that into a program. I do think that there's a lot of false consciousness shit that goes on for women, more than for men (because men get to be normative in our culture in a way that women don't). I do think that there is too much emphasis on women as desired object, which distorts away from things that may be in any given woman's interest (a parallel to poor Kansans, arguably). And I do think that this all also constrains male possibility (though I'm wary of wandering in and proclaiming that the problem with raunch culture is the damage it does to men, as that has a little too much of a ox-gored conflict of interest).

But I am glad that Shalit is out there, arguing for a different view, even if I disagree with her. One of those great things about a liberal arts education is that, if done properly, it encourages people to read a source and the criticism, and conclude for themselves. I fear that a few too many folks who read her won't bother to read the criticism, but if they do and want to live their lives without sex, well, fine. I'm not gonna take the jonmc lament that this makes it harder for gawky teenage boys to get laid, because I don't think it's necessarily a right of gawky teenage boys to get laid (perhaps this is because I was a gawky teenage boy who didn't get laid). At any rate, she bothers me less than, say, Bush's commutation of Libby's sentence, on which reasonable people might have differed, except that Bush is fucking evil and eats babies.

One thing that I don't like, and perhaps this is my Enlightenment/Modernist bias, is the continual assertion of arguments from nature. She argues that women are "naturally" modest, and naturally chaste, etc. Which is, on some level, true. But it fails as a proposition, because we're all "naturally" modest and chase, in the sense of individual origins— everyone's born a virgin; the idea is meaninglessly overbroad. And if you're going to extend it, which I think she clearly wishes to, to teleology, where it's women's broader human nature to be modest, you have to rely not on any real sociological or anthropological evidence, but rather on a mindset that's fairly recent, historically. In Greek and Roman writing, and in plenty of folk tales from around the world, women weren't chaste and modest, they were dangerously sexual. Juvenal (in the same stanza as "Who watches the watchmen?") laments that a wife will seduce even the eunochs who guard her. Female sexuality was potent and had to be controlled (just like male sexuality, though with different social constraints).

Well, back to work hunting down naked pictures of Jean Harlow...
posted by klangklangston at 10:19 AM on July 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


to expand the range of options for young people, who I believe are suffering because of the limited choices available to them

Yes, because women's roles today are so much more limiting than, say, in the fifties. Oh, wait, that's just patently ridiculous. Clearly I am an idiot hoping to create a conservative movement back to the days when I felt more comfortable; i.e., when men were men and women were basically property, whose intrinsic value was directly linked to proof of virginity.

Bah.
posted by misha at 10:22 AM on July 3, 2007


I'm not gonna take the jonmc lament that this makes it harder for gawky teenage boys to get laid, because I don't think it's necessarily a right of gawky teenage boys to get laid (perhaps this is because I was a gawky teenage boy who didn't get laid).

As was I, sir. And I don't think it's a 'right' per se, but all those Porky's-Risky Business type flicks that I saw as a junior high kid had me convinced that getting laid in high school was inevitable. As I sat there in my graduation gown as virginal as Doris Day, I was angry. Hollywood had lied to me.
posted by jonmc at 10:35 AM on July 3, 2007


I'm not gonna take the jonmc lament that this makes it harder for gawky teenage boys to get laid, because I don't think it's necessarily a right of gawky teenage boys to get laid

I missed the implication he made and was trying to circuitously suggest exactly the opposite of what you said. So I ask you why not? If one believes in sexual freedom, sex must be an available option. So long as men must compete for the sexual attentions of females, men are not sexually free and this is reflected in their behaviors. This is a universal case across even the most liberal of populations.

Thus, I think both the 'modest' and 'slutty' ideals of women are immoral. I think they need to learn the position of sexual generosity. The idea that if someone is a reasonably good person, they deserve basic affections and sexual rewards. In turn people learn to be good people in order to get these rewards. To go without food is considered worse than to have to give some of our abundance to those who need. Even with things that are not necessary to survive but necessary for successful and healthy lives, most of us believe it moral to take some taxes to provide them. Education to those in need, basic community activities toys for tots... The liberal position (and the conservative one being even worse) somehow has this completely reversed with sexuality and sexuality alone. In that it's considered far, far worse to have to give sex when you don't want then to be denied the right to it. And I think it dishonest to not admit that this is at the source of most of our gender disparity troubles.
posted by kigpig at 10:43 AM on July 3, 2007


I'm about as ambivalent about this topic now than I was when I posted it this morning. Certainly I have little time for people who want to force their morals onto others, and still less for those who pridefully sit in judgment of others. Still, from a certain perspective, it's probably not the worst thing in the world to try to reach out and provide coping strategies or other alternatives to girls, who by dint of low self-esteem, lack of self-confidence and perspective, or poor parenting, make regrettable decisions that contribute to their own debasement.

That's by no means to say that every girl who appears in a Joe Francis video is suffering from those issues, I just think it's a bit of an overreaction to accuse Shalit of trying to turn back the clock to 1955.

Though if we could have 1955's President, I'd be tempted to consider it.
posted by psmealey at 10:51 AM on July 3, 2007


Once again, tired discourse, fist pumping and hand wringing about women "should" perform sexuality.

This only serves to highlight the near total lack of similar discourse about men. It really seems to me that our culture continues to give men as a subculture a pass on behavioral analysis and sexual culpability, which, given the judgments and scrutiny of women's performances and identities from both sides of this issue, is nothing less than misogyny.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:51 AM on July 3, 2007 [5 favorites]


I missed the implication he made and was trying to circuitously suggest exactly the opposite of what you said.

Actually, I was just trying to make a self-deprecating joke about how as a pimply, obnoxious, teenage fuckup I had difficulty getting laid, and riffing about how the last thing guys like me needed was 'modesty' as a new brush-off. But deconstruct away.

(and FWIW, it's not a 'right,' but I think we can take as a given that 99.9% of all teenage boys think about getting laid (by something) just about all the time).
posted by jonmc at 10:58 AM on July 3, 2007


not simply what a lot of young women want

Well, I haven't read or heard Shalit. But in Levy's book, she makes an extremely strong case about what klangklangston rightly calls 'false consciousness' - that porn culture is the latest gambit for women individually to aspire and take on male power within the culture, by flaunting their non-objection to objectification and thus being rewarded for their willingness to be wild, laid back, 'one of the boys." Her interviews with a wide variety of people uncover some very interesting rhetoric coming from women about how they view themselves when they put on stereotypes of 'hotness' and traditional glamourpuss sexuality, and it really becomes hard to argue that it's empowering or reflects genuine authentic sexual desire. She interviews a lot of college-age women about how often they seek sex and have sex, and then thinks (brilliantly) to ask them to contrast that with how often they actually feel desire or enjoy sex, and finds that while a many young women participating in sexualized social scenarios actively seek the power and attention they can gain from sexual displays, they actually aren't having many orgasms and aren't much in touch with feelings of sexual attraction for men. As folks have said about rape for a long time, it's not about sex. It's about another avenue to power, and one that encourages women to sell out or put down other women in order to gain some access to 'honorary maleness' in their displayed attitude to sex.

It's a great book. I agree with those that say there's a very happy medium somewhere in between the two - but also that our culture does not present much in the way of models for healthy, self-determined, genuine sexual identity for women. There are glimmers here and there, but women who see themselves as authentically pursuing their own personal vision of what gets them off generally look neither like ankle-length-skirt-wearing modest virgins at the father-daughter purity ceremony, nor boob-flashing sluts at the frat party.
posted by Miko at 11:03 AM on July 3, 2007 [6 favorites]


Good point, Ambrosia Voyeur.
posted by Miko at 11:04 AM on July 3, 2007


Did anyone else catch this lady on the Diane Rehm show? She came across as one of the most insane, knee-jerk guests I've ever heard. All of her points of contention rested on anecdotal evidence gathered from her own website. The number of her sampling wasn't exactly clear, but it was definitely under 100 girls, of course a self-selecting group who were already at her website.

Entire chapters of her book, according to her, were based on single stories from single families, or even just individual girls. The entire discussion lacked any sense of verification or even somewhat investigative journalism.

That alone was enough to make her sound crazy. Beyond that, there was the obvious religious overtones to her "research," hinted at when she would discuss what girls bodies were "created" for, and how the "creation" of attraction was "supposed" to work.
posted by odinsdream at 11:05 AM on July 3, 2007


Shalit is not a bad looking woman, but that last name has me conjuring up Gene Shalit. (*shudder*)

Thank G-d it wasn't Gene Shalit on the Diane Rehm show. That'd make for some difficult listening there, it would.
posted by Opposite George at 11:11 AM on July 3, 2007


I just love it when people "know" what God wants, and it just so happens to be what they want for everyone else.
posted by odinsdream at 11:12 AM on July 3, 2007


current trends in our society wrt female sexuality are the result of some sort of 'bad girl' / porn industry / liberal media / etc. conspiracy, and not simply what a lot of young women want, once the boot of 1950s-style sexual repression has been lifted.
Which always struck me as odd that anyone would think otherwise, because classical and medieval literature is repleat with examples in which women are depicted as sexually insatiable and enjoying/desiring sex much more than men. It's almost as though the social stigma was placed there to make women more reluctant to have sex given their stronger desires, whereas now there are more social rewards (or at least fewer social consequences) to sex, and the expected result has just played itself out.

Shalit comes across as sort of a dink because she's not making a particularly cogent defense of her moral system. "Women don't really want to be sexually aggressive and are tricked into being so" is not an argument grounded in reality. Clearly, women aren't simply being tricked. She'd be better off arguing, "Most of us want to express our sexuality. The media and the public sphere debase sexuality, and I think we'd be better off and people would be psychologically/physically healthier if we stopped pretending that what the sex-drenched media sells to us is normal and instead rejected that in favor of a healthy acknowledgment of our sexuality rather than the commercial mass-marketing/mass-production/walmart-ization of it."
posted by deanc at 11:16 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


(and FWIW, it's not a 'right,' but I think we can take as a given that 99.9% of all teenagers boys think about getting laid (by something) just about all the time).

There. That's better.
posted by maxwelton at 11:23 AM on July 3, 2007


"As was I, sir. And I don't think it's a 'right' per se, but all those Porky's-Risky Business type flicks that I saw as a junior high kid had me convinced that getting laid in high school was inevitable. As I sat there in my graduation gown as virginal as Doris Day, I was angry. Hollywood had lied to me."

Yeah, and I remember being convinced that everyone else was having hot monkey sex all the time (and some of them were). But I kinda feel like the number of brush-offs is always going to be equal to the number of women who just didn't want to have sex with me (though I'm not necessarily a big fan of social constructs that tell them they shouldn't if they do want to— but we're back to the male gaze...).

"So I ask you why not? If one believes in sexual freedom, sex must be an available option. So long as men must compete for the sexual attentions of females, men are not sexually free and this is reflected in their behaviors. This is a universal case across even the most liberal of populations."

That's a bizarre flight of pseudo-logic that leads not to freedom in a meaningful and intelligent way, but rather to a reductive view that ignores the individual entirely. Liberty is not license. And the absurd sexual communism you prescribe is better left to 19th century utopian cults.

"This only serves to highlight the near total lack of similar discourse about men. It really seems to me that our culture continues to give men as a subculture a pass on behavioral analysis and sexual culpability, which, given the judgments and scrutiny of women's performances and identities from both sides of this issue, is nothing less than misogyny."

Haha. And here I was trying to keep off of that because from my point of view, far too often discussions here turn into male-led laments about the horrible onus put on them, etc. Perhaps it's because I never really went in for a lot of the traditionally masculine stuff, but I've never felt the same sort of pressure that I see causing distress in most of the women that I know about navigating the straight between the Scylla and Charybdis of personal sexuality and social sexuality.
posted by klangklangston at 11:27 AM on July 3, 2007


I'm still trying to understand why not having seen Jessica Alba's breasts in a film should make me perceive her as a better person than, say, Julie Andrews.
posted by maxwelton at 11:28 AM on July 3, 2007


"Which always struck me as odd that anyone would think otherwise, because classical and medieval literature is repleat with examples in which women are depicted as sexually insatiable and enjoying/desiring sex much more than men."

Yeah, I mentioned that upthread, and I think it's a pretty cogent rejoinder to her argument from nature.
posted by klangklangston at 11:29 AM on July 3, 2007


maxwelton: I wasn't the one who implied that it was a right. klang implied that I implied it, and given our freindly jousting history here, he was half busting my stones, so don't sweat it.

(also, no matter which way female sexuality is deconstructed, reconstucted, contextaulized, or dehydrated or reconstituted in our society, the ultimate truth is this: the good-looking guys, the rich guys, the guys with foriegn accents, the guys in bands and the ones who pretend to be 'sensitive' will still get more play than the rest of us)
posted by jonmc at 11:30 AM on July 3, 2007


but we're back to the male gaze...

yeah, but young men have to be allowed to gipe about not getting laid. where would popular music be otherwise?
posted by jonmc at 11:31 AM on July 3, 2007


"I'm still trying to understand why not having seen Jessica Alba's breasts in a film should make me perceive her as a better person than, say, Julie Andrews."

Honestly, and I feel guilty saying this, not seeing Jessica Alba's breasts annoys me, because she's a terrible actress. She relies on coquettish sexuality rather than any sort of reasonable craft, and without nudity it feels like an endless tease that annoys rather than arouses.
As opposed to folks like Ava Gardner, who could be smoking hot without ever getting naked on film, and who could act circles around Alba.

(Plus, she always makes me think of "Able was I, ere I saw Elba.")
posted by klangklangston at 11:33 AM on July 3, 2007


Well, the whole Julie Andrews thing was built around the fact that she got most famous playing an icon of purity (Maria Von Trapp) and seeing her hooters fulfilled the male fantasy of despoiling the prissy prom queen. That fact that ol Julie seemed to be into it just made it more fun.
posted by jonmc at 11:36 AM on July 3, 2007


"yeah, but young men have to be allowed to gipe about not getting laid. where would popular music be otherwise?"

I'm sorry jon, my favorite songs of the moment are all about sniffing glue. Though yeah, the good-looking guys will always get laid more. At least one of the nice parts about our current millieu is that the "good looking" male image hasn't been nearly as codified as the "good looking" female. Which is why when I did a story about the Supermarket Museum, it was weird to have the guide gushing about the new rise in beauty products for tween guys. I kept thinking "Jesus, doesn't everyone agree that the cosmetics industry has done a number on girls? Now they wanna get the guys too?"
posted by klangklangston at 11:38 AM on July 3, 2007


Shalit says: My goal is not to attack those who want to be “wild,” but rather to expand the range of options for young people, who I believe are suffering because of the limited choices available to them.

Then why not REALLY expand the range of choices available to young people, especially young women? Why not look at the systemic social structures that oppress, rather than trying to frame all this as being about girls' and women's individual choices to act either modestly or immodestly? For God's sake, I am so tired of all this focus on individual choices rather than examination of systemic barriers such as classism, sexism, and racism that work together to ensure economic and social disparity.

Yes, I think it is bad when girls believe that their sexuality is their only source of power. But all this talk about "modesty" is prescriptive, and Shalit's arguments are very essentialist. Women are "naturally" more shy, retiring, and modest than men? Give me a break.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:41 AM on July 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


*runs into room, lifts shirt (independently, mind you)*

(.)(.)

I certainly don't think that indiscriminate boob flashing is the way to, well, anything.

True. Once must be discriminate in boob flashing to achieve one's goals, and be clear about what those goals are.

Favorite me! Favorite me!
posted by yohko at 11:42 AM on July 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


...I've never felt the same sort of pressure that I see causing distress in most of the women that I know about navigating the straight between the Scylla and Charybdis of personal sexuality and social sexuality.
posted by klangklangston 10 minutes ago


Yeah, but you know what? Plenty of grown-up woman are fine with both their personal and "social sexuality" (whatever that is) once they start learning about the world and becoming adults. But that's one big group Shalit has to ignore -- either we're all virgins or we're all conflicted sluts. I think that's what bothers me the most about her (and Levy). It could be perfectly true that a certain subset of girls are led unhappily astray by the Girls Gone Wild ethos or pornification or whatever. But the majority of us women emerge just fine. Why should we lose our rights because some girl regrets flashing her boobs?
posted by footnote at 11:43 AM on July 3, 2007


I'm sorry jon, my favorite songs of the moment are all about sniffing glue.

As are most of mine.


Though yeah, the good-looking guys will always get laid more.

Yeah. I agree with most of feminism, but where it makes me bristle sometimes is when they try to make some claim that women are 'deeper' and 'less' superficial than men when it comes to attractiveness. If that were true, Thomas Pynchon would have as many groupies as Brad Pitt, which is obviously not gonna happena nytime soon.
posted by jonmc at 11:43 AM on July 3, 2007


In my experience the Good Girls end up on Valium or booze, denying the Bad in themselves and others. And Bad Girls end up on Prozac, because the Bad in oneself or others is hard to bear seeing and feeling. At least Bad girls are available to awakening, if they choose to awaken.
C'mon. Let's be honest here: 'Bad girl' just means 'someone who is willing to violate sexual taboos, with at least some degree of regularity, hopefully with me.' Having a lot of sex is not 'confronting the Bad in one's self.' It's just having a lot of sex. A virgin can grapple with their existential demons just as easily as someone who's had dozens of partners.

What if someone has no desire to be 'bad', but just wants to have sex? "It's cool to be a bad girl" and "It's not *bad* to have sex" seem to differ in some very important ways.
posted by verb at 11:45 AM on July 3, 2007


"Yeah, but you know what? Plenty of grown-up woman are fine with both their personal and "social sexuality" (whatever that is) once they start learning about the world and becoming adults."

Really? I know very few women who are happy with the social norms that govern the presentation of female sexuality. Maybe I read too much Bitch, but I think you're the first person I've heard say that everything's just right.
posted by klangklangston at 11:49 AM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


navigating the straight between the Scylla and Charybdis of personal sexuality and social sexuality.
Agreed, but in context, perhaps you might want to use a different symbol of peril rather than a tall rock of Scylla shooting up out of the water into the sky and the deep hole created by Charybardis's whirlpool.

Just sayin'.
posted by deanc at 11:55 AM on July 3, 2007


Just sayin'.

I think he was just quoting the Police there.
posted by psmealey at 11:57 AM on July 3, 2007


Btw, is Shalit really saying "all women are... x, y and z"? That's not the message I was getting at all. I think she's really saying "some women are x, y and z.... and they need to know there's another way."
posted by psmealey at 11:59 AM on July 3, 2007


I listened to the interview and the most disturbing thing was Shalit's contention that sex education was making girls sexual. She seemed to be saying that being shown things like condoms was saying it was OK to have sex and that sort of thing. Kind of reminded me of listening to a right wing fundamentalist. SIGH.
posted by UseyurBrain at 12:01 PM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Klangklang -- You just need to hang out with different girls. My friends and I are too busy to worry too much about lipstick or what people think about our lipstick. As a political matter gender norms bother me very much -- I am very much a feminist -- but as a personal matter, in my day to day life, I feel pretty unconstrained. I only get personally pissed off about things like skinny jeans, which were obviously intended to degrade women.
posted by footnote at 12:02 PM on July 3, 2007


A virgin can grapple with their existential demons just as easily as someone who's had dozens of partners.

Even easier, I would argue.
posted by The World Famous at 12:03 PM on July 3, 2007


There is no authentic self to find of course
posted by A189Nut at 12:16 PM on July 3, 2007


"So I ask you why not? If one believes in sexual freedom, sex must be an available option. So long as men must compete for the sexual attentions of females, men are not sexually free and this is reflected in their behaviors. This is a universal case across even the most liberal of populations."

That's a bizarre flight of pseudo-logic that leads not to freedom in a meaningful and intelligent way, but rather to a reductive view that ignores the individual entirely. Liberty is not license. And the absurd sexual communism you prescribe is better left to 19th century utopian cults.


I can see how it could lead to communism with the wrong voices encouraging it, but certainly you don't think I was suggesting state subsidized prostitution?

The idea that this is pseudo-logic must have took some effort to ignore the example of education where in fact we have put great efforts in almost every society to make it into an essential right. Or are you one who believes the availability of education "ignores the individual entirely" which I guess is a consistent opinion?

To be clear: my position is that what we should be encouraging as a society, is that people learn to be loving, affectionate, and generous, including sexually by default. Rather than the current model which is a war between generally three different positions that think sex is to be for the privileged or lucky. And a general answer for other responses, yes men should be generous too though there certainly is already a lot of discourse about it in pop culture where liberal society already expects men to behave this way. Even though they don't as a product of it not being an available option for most...a point a lot of people tiptoe around making the pretense that women want sex as much as men (which fails to explain the party/bar scene or on darker notes the widespread incidence of sexual misconduct amongst men).

the ultimate truth is this: the good-looking guys, the rich guys, the guys with foriegn accents, the guys in bands and the ones who pretend to be 'sensitive' will still get more play than the rest of us

More isn't a problem. I think people without those 5 characteristics can live happily with occasionally getting some sexual satisfaction without having to sacrifice their morality to do so right?
posted by kigpig at 12:28 PM on July 3, 2007


kingpig: I was kidding around. as an average looking, middle-class, untalented, about-as-sensitive-as-a-toilet-seat guy with no musical talent, I am very happily married, and when I was single I did OK because I obeyed the beer commercial wisdom of 'Why ask why?'
posted by jonmc at 12:34 PM on July 3, 2007


the straight between the Scylla and Charybdis of personal sexuality and social sexuality.

LOL build a dyke in that thar straight.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:37 PM on July 3, 2007


jonmc: Well, the ultimate problem with Shalit's whole thesis is that the only two choices are Girls Gone Wild vs. The Flying Nun.

Well, those do seem to be the only ones they get to hear about.
posted by lodurr at 12:41 PM on July 3, 2007


psmealey wrote: Btw, is Shalit really saying "all women are... x, y and z"? That's not the message I was getting at all. I think she's really saying "some women are x, y and z.... and they need to know there's another way."

This is the part that tipped me off to her essentialist beliefs:

(From the link to the review of her book): “In the light of her natural modesty [emphasis mine],” Shalit writes, “a woman’s [bashful or embarrassed reaction to praise] can be seen not as some problem to be ‘fixed,’ but as an important force directing us, perhaps, to what is truly important.”

I'd be fine with it if she were really saying "hey, check out your options; not everyone has to be the same way," but I don't think that's what phrases like "natural modesty" imply.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 12:43 PM on July 3, 2007


I am very much a feminist -- but as a personal matter, in my day to day life, I feel pretty unconstrained.

footnote: "The personal is political"? These words mean nothing to you?

You can say you're personally so strongly individual that you're untouched by our entire culture and its thronging push to define gendered identity through such powerful tools as mass media (including the fashion industry) and public education, but I'll never believe you totally skate. Sorry, I just don't buy it. Do you shave your legs? Do you pay for birth control more than 50% of the time? Are you going to plan a wedding someday? There are so many ways women are affected personally by sexual norms. So just don't bother saying you're not, and stand up in the struggle with the rest of us. Your claiming that pervasive gender politics don't affect you individually just strikes me as a willful disconnect between your personal identity and its political counterpart. If you're truly unaffected by oppression, mobilize that huge privilege you have to help a sister out.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:50 PM on July 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


Ambrosia - I care politically, a lot, more than you know, and in fact my job has to do with remedying sex discrimination. I just mean that in my every day life I really, truly do not suffer the kinds of fretting and conflicts about my "gender" and "sexuality" that both Wendy Shalit and I guess other feminists think I should. In the abstract -- politically speaking -- do I get pissed about gender norms? Of course, and I do see how they might affect my life -- although I've been objectively more successful than 90% of the population (male or female) so far.

There's just no sturm und drang to it for me and a lot of other women. I feel comfortable. The people I chose to spend time with don't get all tied up in knots about these things. But maybe I'm just lucky that way.
posted by footnote at 12:56 PM on July 3, 2007


"The personal is political"? These words mean nothing to you?

No, they mean that somebody is trying to impose their ideology on you and dictate your personal behavior, which is ultimately none of their business.
posted by jonmc at 12:57 PM on July 3, 2007


Despite what she claims, she's not really advocating breaking from the herd mentality. She's advocating creating a different herd mentality that's more in line with her own values and opinions. (She's certainly not advocating sex ed or even individualism in the Orthodox Jewish world, of which she's a part--and where the herd happens to share her values.)

The clincher for me was that on the Diane Rehm show she rails against the American Library Association and sex ed. Breaking from the herd and doing your own thing starts with getting neutral, unbiased information, something she doesn't think teenagers should be exposed to.
posted by needs more cowbell at 1:00 PM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


jonmc,

Yes I'm familiar with your look, you've been for years a rather prolific personality on metafilter for years and in fact I neither disagreed with your comment nor felt it was really self-referential (though you did admit a certain bitterness of the awkward days of youth as is kind of where I stand too).

I don't understand the beer wisdom why ask why remark. Are you saying that as a line you used on women? Or to not question why you were getting sex? Or something else?
posted by kigpig at 1:05 PM on July 3, 2007


Or to not question why you were getting sex?

That's the one. (as opposed to a serious relationships, where asking why is healthy and neccessary. In casual encounters, best bet is to just accept the gift horse and avoid the mouth inspection).
posted by jonmc at 1:13 PM on July 3, 2007


jonmc: No, they mean that somebody is trying to impose their ideology on you and dictate your personal behavior, which is ultimately none of their business.

Really! So that's what "the personal is political" means! And here all this time I thought it meant that we all participate in creating the political reality via our personal choices. Silly me.
posted by lodurr at 1:17 PM on July 3, 2007


footnote: I suspected as much, and I hope you didn't read offense, only a friendly callout, in my post. I could probably debate you all day about this and have a blast, but we're already close to approaching semantic singularity.

jonmc: How do those words mean didacticism, exactly? Should I never deploy axioms around you?
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 1:17 PM on July 3, 2007


yes, silly you. Nobody cares all that much about your personal choices.
posted by jonmc at 1:18 PM on July 3, 2007


How do those words mean didacticism, exactly? Should I never deploy axioms around you?

speak non-debate club-ese.
posted by jonmc at 1:19 PM on July 3, 2007


"LOL build a dyke in that thar straight."

Zing!
posted by klangklangston at 1:23 PM on July 3, 2007


This is the part that tipped me off to her essentialist beliefs:

Shalit discusses and embraces the "essentialist" label in Return to Modesty.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 1:35 PM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


jonmc: yes, silly you. Nobody cares all that much about your personal choices.

I love it when you get catty.

But seriously: That's the point, isn't it? Nobody cares about most people's personal choices -- but in the aggregate, personal choices are what create "the political."

Ergo, the political is comprised of the personal. The personal is of the political. The personal is political. You do get that, right? Right? When you're not busy being cleverly catty?
posted by lodurr at 1:41 PM on July 3, 2007


Modest girls need love too.

(And entirely IMHO, they're much better in the sack. A girl who's "out there" in terms of her look and aggressiveness? She tends to be in it for the conquest, not the enjoyment of sex itself. The fact that she's a lot more likely to have herpes doesn't help.)
posted by bardic at 1:43 PM on July 3, 2007


Ergo, the political is comprised of the personal. The personal is of the political. The personal is political. You do get that, right? Right? When you're not busy being cleverly catty?

I suppose. and my view on your (and any other consenting adult's) personal choices when it comes to sex, is that it's none of my goddam business, which I suppose makes me either a libertarian or an anarchist.
posted by jonmc at 1:47 PM on July 3, 2007


She tends to be in it for the conquest, not the enjoyment of sex itself.

As I said before: why ask why?
posted by jonmc at 1:47 PM on July 3, 2007


Listening to the audio, she just sounds a bit dim. So sex educators told her in fourth grade that your 'private parts' are the same as your elbow. And, apparently, that's wrong because she's now seen Brittany Spears' 'elbow'. Holy non-sequitur Batman!

Her real complaint about that incident should be that the sex educators didn't tell her the whole story. Yes, your 'privates' actually are just like your elbow - part of your body, something you own and should be relaxed about. Look after them, like you would look after your teeth. But other people, people of the opposite sex, and people of the same sex, your peers, your parents, your teachers, are more interested in your privates than they are in your elbow - for a variety of reasons. Some want to take it out to play, some want to tell you what you should do with it. So socially, they're different. That's the real story. But all she can give us is "'Ick! I saw Brittany Spears' bagingo! Euwwww!'

Also, I just don't believe all these stories. They sound like at least 60% utter crap.

You know what'd be great? Being neither sexually nor emotionally repressed.
posted by tiny crocodile at 1:54 PM on July 3, 2007


ah see jonmc, I did ask why at a fairly young age when I wasn't getting any and asked why again when I was and came to some very bleak realizations about power. Then I watched other people's interactions to make sure it wasn't just my personal experience. To make sure even more I started hopping subcultures to see if it was just a principle piggybacked on other philosophies I had for unknown reasons. Yet no matter where I looked the simple fact was that with sexuality, everyone (even people who'd dedicate their lives to altruistic activities like the peace core) was treating it as a power struggle. I grew disgusted with this as we should be competing in the realms of ideas not sexual prowess. So I embraced the only philosophy that solves this (or at least could solve it...never can tell what happens when social theories achieve fruition). And I changed myself to follow it.

I'll stop now I see on preview you're getting overwhelmed.
posted by kigpig at 1:55 PM on July 3, 2007


ah see jonmc, I did ask why at a fairly young age when I wasn't getting any and asked why again when I was and came to some very bleak realizations about power

that's pragmatism, sir. My point was that (in terms of casual encounters) do you ask 'is this girl sleeping with me because she has daddy issues? because of a bad breakup? because she was horny and you were the nearest being with a penis? or ultimately do you care?

I grew disgusted with this as we should be competing in the realms of ideas not sexual prowess.


as a very wise man once said:

you're searching for a reason
a way to carry on
when everything is broken
and everything is wrong

So you tried to save the whales
You found a tree to kiss
You gave a crippled child
His dying wish

You're waiting for an answer
A message from above
You've always been a sucker
Another fool in love

What's it all about
Pussy and money
I ain't tryin to be cute
I ain't tryin to be funny
Everybody lies about
Pussy and money

It's always gonna be that way...
posted by jonmc at 2:04 PM on July 3, 2007


jonmc:

How do those words mean didacticism, exactly? Should I never deploy axioms around you?

=
How comes it what you said was sposed to mean what I said about poltix etc. is like tellin' people what to do all seriousley and on a so-box? Is it cuz of how it's like a femminist logo and not words I made up? I figure sometimes even words I didn't make are right to. Do you think its better to only put words you make up by yourself?

I never was in debate club, would they allow "fuck you, sasquatch asscrotch?"

/too much fun
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:07 PM on July 3, 2007


Shalit reminds me of a woman who grew up in milieu like the one she seems to espouse. Said woman's mom's advice to her on sex consisted of "wait until you're married and then act like you enjoy it," period. Yikes.
posted by pax digita at 2:08 PM on July 3, 2007


wow ambrosia voyeur: are the choices between stilted vocabulary and condensing attempts at humor? Lovely.
posted by jonmc at 2:11 PM on July 3, 2007


I don't care about your personal choices.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:19 PM on July 3, 2007


Wow, I bet you went to class and like paid attention and stuff. I would've but I was too busy getting drunk and chasing women.
posted by jonmc at 2:26 PM on July 3, 2007


Can't you two just kiss and make up?
posted by bardic at 2:30 PM on July 3, 2007


bardic Voyeur, I guess jonmc wouldn't protest with questions of "why?"

But me, I know where a kiss may lead. I went from "the kissygirl" chasing boys on the playground to "fastest esophagus in all Mexico" in college, but now I've found guidance. Thanks, Wendy Shalit and psmealey!
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:40 PM on July 3, 2007


What the hell? Well, you're welcome, I guess, and forgive me if I'm reading you wrong, but you ought not confuse a poster's personal views with those expressed by the subject of a particular post.
posted by psmealey at 2:50 PM on July 3, 2007


I find wearing trousers to be much more modest than wearing a skirt.
posted by jb at 2:53 PM on July 3, 2007


What's it all about
Pussy and money


Uh-huh. Yup. That's it, alright.

Except when it's not.
posted by lodurr at 2:56 PM on July 3, 2007


Ambrosia Voyeur;
You are asking two diametrically opposed questions:
How is this didacticism? and Should I never deploy axioms?

What is didactic is by definition the opposite of an axiom, despite how much you like to hear yourself pontificate. Perhaps what you meant to say is, "should I only deploy axioms?"

The "personal is political" catch-phrase you espouse gained popularity before you were even born, in a much different culture. Women shaving their legs is a gender-based choice but certainly not an example of gender subjugation; I know of no woman who has ever lost her job or suffered inordinately because she chose not to shave them. Paying more than 50% for birth control is not a requirement but a choice, as is planning a wedding. None of these issues screams, "subjugation" to me.

One of the qualities that I believe makes a woman (such as myself) a feminist is that she embraces a woman's right to choose what path she follows, no matter where it leads her. You seem to forget that some women choose traditional paths because it suits them to do so, and not out of some kind of political or peer pressure to conform. There are not only bad girls and good girls, there are not only housewives and feminists; rather, there is an entire spectrum of options from which to choose.

Also, the "f--k you, sasquatch asscrotch" comment pretty much negates any reasonable debate preceding the inflammatory words. Flagged.
posted by misha at 2:58 PM on July 3, 2007


Uh-huh. Yup. That's it, alright.

Except when it's not.


well, ego gratification counts as 'pussy' and political power counts as 'money' (at least to me) so that more or less covers the reasons why anyone does anything. There are exceptions, sure, we call them 'saints' which only undersores how exceptional they are. Everybody else is pretty much driven by those four forces.
posted by jonmc at 3:03 PM on July 3, 2007


Also, the "f--k you, sasquatch asscrotch" comment pretty much negates any reasonable debate preceding the inflammatory words. Flagged.

I've been called worse.
posted by jonmc at 3:06 PM on July 3, 2007


Misha— "Also, the "f--k you, sasquatch asscrotch" comment pretty much negates any reasonable debate preceding the inflammatory words. Flagged."

Even when I disagree with someone, I'm usually pretty good at telling when they're joking. Flagged your comment as "overly serious feminist stereotype."
posted by klangklangston at 3:06 PM on July 3, 2007


She (and others spouting similar messages) seems really hung up on sex without intimacy. Anyone who's had intense, emotional, intimate sex with someone they love already knows that it's probably the greatest experience in life. But it's not the only type of sex worth having. This fetishization of "intimacy" is exactly that, a fetish. To me, it's just as bizzare as somebody who can't get off without being in a furry coustume (ok, maybe not as bizzare). If intimacy is all you want or expect out of sex, not only will you be often disappointed, you'll be missing out on a whole world. They act like sex without intimacy will actively scar your psyche, rather than simply being enjoyable in a slightly different way.
posted by SBMike at 3:11 PM on July 3, 2007 [3 favorites]


Anyone who's had intense, emotional, intimate sex with someone they love already knows that it's probably the greatest experience in life.

Soft serve ice cream is pretty good, too.
posted by maxwelton at 3:51 PM on July 3, 2007


Jeez, get to work for a minute and come back to this?

misha: jonmc implied that the axiom "The personal is political" was didactic, or maybe dogmatic. So what I said was in response to that. And I'm not the keen on hearing myself pontificate, just needle jonmc. ;) Take it from klang, *irony cramp* you do catch more flies with honey around here.

As for the leg-shaving/BCP/wedding stuff, I really feel some small subjugation goes on there; all those things come off the top of my head as personal experiences where I have been treated differently and damagingly due to my gender by some personal or societal entity.

Okay, this is getting too talky.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 3:55 PM on July 3, 2007


They act like sex without intimacy will actively scar your psyche, rather than simply being enjoyable in a slightly different way. SBMike

Yes! Why is it that everything has to mean something? Why not just enjoy the moment?
posted by misha at 3:56 PM on July 3, 2007


Yes! Why is it that everything has to mean something? Why not just enjoy the moment?

Because that's the way most people feel about things like sex. There's no use pretending otherwise, even if you wish it were not so.
posted by deanc at 4:21 PM on July 3, 2007


I hate this "bad girl" and "good girl" binary with a passion.
posted by jokeefe at 4:23 PM on July 3, 2007


They act like sex without intimacy will actively scar your psyche, rather than simply being enjoyable in a slightly different way. SBMike

Yes! Why is it that everything has to mean something? Why not just enjoy the moment?


Oh man, I'm getting heavy flashbacks to my teenage years here, and the seduction patter of older guys. I have in the past done lots of non-intimate sex, and at least for me it's not the sort of thing that I could derive much pleasure from once I was, say, over 25.

Not that it was all that great before then, too.

Sex isn't simple. Period.
posted by jokeefe at 4:50 PM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh man, I'm getting heavy flashbacks to my teenage years here, and the seduction patter of older guys

Ahj, the secret's our. The girls were all sleeping with older dudes, cos they had patter (and cars, and could buy beer and stuff). If only you all had succumbed to the clumsy charms of dudes your own age everybody would've been a lot happier.
posted by jonmc at 5:09 PM on July 3, 2007


If only you all had succumbed to the clumsy charms of dudes your own age everybody would've been a lot happier.

C'mon ladies, I've got this van with this light that like, flashes sometimes? We can talk about that one movie while we sit in my van! No? The van-boat is sailing...! Can I at least see some tit? No? Okay, see you third period.
posted by supercrayon at 5:16 PM on July 3, 2007


That's what you love about those high school girls, man. You get older, they stay the same age.

(I'm fairly sure Wooderson grew up to become Bill Clinton. Which is of course one of the reasons I voted for ol' Bill twice)
posted by jonmc at 5:17 PM on July 3, 2007


(I'm fairly sure Wooderson grew up to become Bill Clinton. Which is of course one of the reasons I voted for ol' Bill twice)

Except for Clinton's whole ultra-mega-super academic overachiever thing, obviously.
posted by The World Famous at 5:20 PM on July 3, 2007


CHOOO CHOOO... Allll Aboaaard the publishing bandwagon:

I Am Charlotte Simmons (2005)

The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Clothes On (2006)

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2006)

Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student (2006)

Unhooked (2007)

Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good (2007)

Am I missing any? I know I am. Obviously some significant number of college age women are getting played and they don't like it.

This publishing trend, by the way, is complemented nicely by another recent trend of books aimed at college age males devoted to how to pick up women and extract casual sex from them - largely through manipulation (that is by faking higher status and mate quality or promising false commitment). Me thinks I smell a dynamic sexual arms race between college demographic men and women. The more men lie to get casual sex, the more restraint females exhibit, and the more restraint they exhibit, the more games men will play to get what they want.

On the whole financially independent women with birth control and high prospects paired with life circumstances not felicitous to long-term commitment during their peak fertility will enjoy a relative amount of casual sex as well, but never as much as men for evolved reasons of sexual preference.
posted by dgaicun at 5:22 PM on July 3, 2007


I am sick of the arguement that women's behavior must be regulated because men can't control themselves. It's as if men have no agency and are animals that simply react. It's just as insulting to men as it is to women. Shalit says if women behaved more modestly, then men in turn would behave like gentlemen and take care of women, blah blah blah. Uh what? Yeah that whole modesty thing is working out great for the women of the middle east. She's just another conservative trying to make herself look progressive.

This is off topic a bit, but I'm going to go for it anyway. I am all for calling body parts by their right name, but I am pretty sick of hearing about vaginas. Especially since some people seem a little unsure as to where the vagina is found. Hey world, you can't see my vagina without a speculum, so please, all comedians and people who think it's cool and funny to talk about how they are sick of seeing vag, please stop it. Vaginas are on the inside. Thank you.
posted by Belle O'Cosity at 5:44 PM on July 3, 2007 [1 favorite]


Me thinks I smell a dynamic sexual arms race between college demographic men and women. The more men lie to get casual sex, the more restraint females exhibit, and the more restraint they exhibit, the more games men will play to get what they want.

As a casual observer, sometime participant in that arms race, it's dismaying to find that many of the good girls you're looking for are gaming you. As one ex-girlfriend put it, "good girls don't get caught," and that's incentive enough to invest in a stack of books on how the better resemble one. Pushing 30, however, a man looking for a wife is at a serious disadvantage when those playing at being good girls want to snort cocaine off of toilet seats and pick up hookers in their spare time, and those playing at bad girls can't be taken to an arthouse theater with my siblings with their tits hanging out like that.

Play it straight and make this easy on me. If you're into bondage, wear leather. If you're into books, wear a nice cardigan. If you're into both, I dunno, leather cardigan?
posted by litfit at 6:14 PM on July 3, 2007


The more men lie to get casual sex, the more restraint females exhibit, and the more restraint they exhibit, the more games men will play to get what they want.

This arms race only happens when men are reduced to having to lie to get casual sex and on women who lack the skepticism to see through the thinly veiled lies of romance.

Otoh, it's already just a barrage of lies between men and women regarding sex right now and yet they're still having lots of it and polluting the earth with their ugly fledglings.
posted by kigpig at 7:15 PM on July 3, 2007


FWIW, I've never had to lie to get casual sex.
posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on July 3, 2007


FWIW, I'm only ever aware that sex is casual several months after the fact. Does lying to yourself to get casual sex count?
posted by litfit at 7:33 PM on July 3, 2007 [4 favorites]


Jesus' General on this bitch
posted by Paris Hilton at 8:51 PM on July 3, 2007


FWIW, I have always found the aggressive/independent riot grrl ethic/attitude to be much more attractive and appealing than the submissive barbie doll/pr0n star thing that seems to have taken over girl culture in the last 10 years.

Ah the riot/nerd grrl, the new "hot," the new barbie/star. Really, when you start typing, especially by what you find attractive, the point is the same.
posted by digitalis at 11:37 PM on July 3, 2007


digitalis: psmealey calls himself a chauvinist in that comment, after your selection. Looking for any specific "ethic" if that's indeed a valid description of his preference, is possibly the best form of bias I can imagine.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 11:44 PM on July 3, 2007


jonmc: well, ego gratification counts as 'pussy' and political power counts as 'money' (at least to me) ...

Of course, if you are willing to redefine your terms whenever you need to, you need never fear being bested in any debate. Especially when your own actions serve so well to make your point.
posted by lodurr at 12:32 PM on July 4, 2007


I tried to be a "bad girl", but the glasses and Star Trek novel stuck in my pocket seemed to work against me.
posted by jb at 10:25 AM on July 7, 2007


I tried to be a "bad girl", but the glasses and Star Trek novel stuck in my pocket seemed to work against me.

It's like I had a twin!
posted by misha at 8:25 PM on July 7, 2007


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