You're Not Wearing That to School! Girls Go Mild by Wendy Shalit
As a parent who survived a daughter's teen years and now has a granddaughter just entering those restless years, I was interested in an extensive interview I heard with author Wendy Shalit, who roiled the waters a decade ago with her book A Return to Modesty.
Shalit's new book, Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good, takes on teen clothing and sexual practices head on, stating flatly that "looking 'wild' and acting 'wild' are supposed to be empowering, but more often they lead to misery."
Shalit lays most of blame for "girls gone wild" on "the old feminists" who she claims equated liberation with the sexual license formerly reserved in our culture for males. Her "new feminists," she says, are turning to a "modesty movement" in dress and personal behavior which she claims are a better fit for young women.
She tosses plenty of bombs at parents who dress their children provocatively and regard virginity in their teenaged daughters as cause for embarrassment. To her credit, she does come down on the side of a single standard of morality for boys and girls, believing as she does that the non-emotional "hook-up" style of the college-age crowd does not provide for the development of real or loving relationships between men and women.
Admitting that "clothing is just the tip of the iceberg," she nevertheless seems to think it's a good place to start, proposing a "modest but modern" line of attire for girls.
Does this proposal mean we'll see a revival of Peter Pan collars, long-sleeved blouses, and long dresses? Burkas beginning at middle school? I doubt it. The "casualization" of America has progressed to the point that we're all letting a lot of it hang out these days. I'm no expert on fashion or sexual mores, but I suspect Shalit's campaign is little more than spitting into the wind. However, if she manages to raise the level of adolescent decolletage by an inch or so, that won't be all bad.