The Good Girl Revolution

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June 27, 2007

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Laurie

I remember that reading A Return to Modesty in high school was important for me, since it made me realize: "Oh! I'm not the only one who thinks this way!" And it was very liberating in a way.

Crimson Wife

I'm very much looking forward to reading "Girls Gone Mild" as a "good girl" who is now mom to a daughter. As bad as the culture was when I was in high school in the early '90's, it's even worse today. I just hope things turn around by the time my little girl grows up.

Kudos to you, Ms. Shalit, for bringing much-needed attention to this very important issue!

A.L.

It's funny but you can think you're the only one but there are actually a lot of 'only ones' out there.

Priya

I think this is a subject that needs to given plenty of attention in a mainstream way. I read Return To Modesty recently and really cried in recognition. I think Modesty and self respect are key in a womans happiness. I used to really worry about my "prudishness" despite being raised in a family where I was encouraged to say no to sex until marriage, I wanted to be more casual about it so many times but only because I thought it would be the key to belonging.
I have had a couple of, minor, sexual experiences before meeting my now husband but these were reticent and now I feel very grateful for my natural reserve and regret all the time I spent pretending to be someone different. Every young girl should read your books. I think teenagers should remember that they can recover from one or two mistakes also. It's a difficult society to grow up in.

Rachel

I would consider myself a modest girl, but I wonder why does that matter? Aren't my accomplishments more important then my style of dress or how I spend my evenings? I would much rather be known as an intellectual girl, proactive girl, or a compassionate girl. These and other desireable character traits should be lauded, rather than the rather superficial trait of modesty.

Also, I appreciate the discussion on real girls rather than the film stars and other "artists" who probably do more harm than good in their function as role models.

wendy

Hi Rachel, Thanks for your good question. I wouldn't say that modesty is 'superficial' because I feel it protects the other virtues you mention, as well as enhancing individuality. But you are definitely on to something--I agree that it's only one part of a much larger picture.

The reason I only have one chapter on modesty in this book (specifically, a report on why many mainstream girls are asking for more modest clothing) is because I'm primarily concerned with how good girl is misunderstood more generally. As you'll see from the last chapter, I feel compassion is vastly underrated as well--but I would submit that it's no accident that the society that frowns on modesty also frowns on compassion. Just look at Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend" video to see how the two (or rather, their absence) are tied together.

K. Ann Koch

Someone actually criticized the idea of apple pie? I loved that idea. It actually fits with something I realized a few years ago.

In college I loved to bake chocolate chip cookies. It relaxed me. But after nibbling on batter and enjoying the fruits of my labors, I'd have this big thing of wonderful, from scratch, cookies. What to do? I could have kept them and eaten them myself, but I didn't really want them. So I took them over to the girls' dorm TV room and shared. We'd sit and chat and enjoy the afternoon.

One of the things we'd talk about was how the nice men didn't notice us. We were all young and pretty, good students, and we'd lament that the girls who went in for casual sex had dates (we had several nasty names for them), but we got in several extra study sessions a week. We wanted a social life that included guys without compromising our personal standards! Just normal college girls.

What we didn't realize was that the nice guys (those not into "bad girls") were afraid that unless they were "cool" that the pretty girls would not go out with them, so they did not ask.

Looking back, I see that the guys were shy too. Raised with NO behavior patterns for meeting nice girls, they studied and did nothing and I wonder...what would have happened if I'd taken some of those fresh cookies over to the bench near the computer lab, where the nice guy I liked could be found at all hours? A pretty girl in her books is intimidating, but a pretty girl offering cookies....

We were all modern women, all went on to careers, to advanced education, some wrote books, others earned multiple degrees, some became traditional housewives at some point, one had her children right after college and returned for graduate school when they hit high school--not a milk-toast in the bunch. We would still be the incredible women we are--even if we'd taken those cookies over to the lab and helped break down the shyness of the good guys with warm baked goods!

I regret little in my life--but what a wasted opportunity!

Priya

The best way I can describe the feelings I have after reading your work is "surprising" then shortly after the surprise and intrigue is a disturbing feeling that it shouldn't be so surprising and that there is something very wrong with the world we live in.

A generation that is bombarded with "Nip/Tuck" and Cosmos sealed section as staple fare can feel rather under nourished not to mention deeply hopeless to say the least but as long as we're smiling and being sexy no-one will know !

Thanks :)

Oren Amitay

Although some people would like to deny it (mostly anti-Freudians and parents who have failed in their role as parents), my clinical experiences and MANY parenting capacity assessments (and general psychological testing) leave me no doubt that all of this truly does boil down to parental influence. Yes, peers have a HUGE impact on many of the beliefs and decisions of kids/teens; but before (and after, though to a lesser degree) children are exposed to their peers, they spend a lot of time with their family. These interactions will help determine how the individual then engages with and is influenced by his/her peers.

It seems like such a cliche to say this, but if you look very closely at many parents, you will see that they are quite often not doing what they think they are doing with their kids. Some parents think it's beneficial to just let their kids grow up without any parental guidance or at least serious discussions about the media they are exposed to daily, not to mention the beliefs that are being promoted by their peers. Any parent who wants to be their kid's "best friend" is significantly increasing the chances that their kid will end up engaging in some pretty bad sh*t as they get older. And any parent who cannot see the difference between building up their child's self-esteem in a healthy manner versus making their kid into an "entitled" narcissist is sending one more "special" person into society to make life miserable for the rest of us--not to mention that the kid will likely have many work, academic, and/or interpersonal problems eventually, as is typically the case with narcissists, whether they truly have a personality disorder or simply feel "entitled" for no other reason than that they feel they deserve to be treated as such.

If you made it past that run-on sentence, please also realize there is a whole movement claiming that parents have no real effect on their kids other than through their genes and where they choose to live. The most (in)famous proponent of such a view is Judith Harris. I've posted a lot more about her, including links to sites that support and criticize her work: http://docamitay.com/blog/2007/06/25/parental-influence/

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