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

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At twenty-three, Wendy Shalit punctured conventional wisdom with A Return to Modesty, arguing that our hope for true lasting love is not a problem to be fixed but rather a wonderful instinct that forms the basis for civilization. Now, in Girls Gone Mild, the brilliantly outspoken author investigates an emerging new movement. Despite nearly-naked teen models posing seductiv At twenty-three, Wendy Shalit punctured conventional wisdom with A Return to Modesty, arguing that our hope for true lasting love is not a problem to be fixed but rather a wonderful instinct that forms the basis for civilization. Now, in Girls Gone Mild, the brilliantly outspoken author investigates an emerging new movement. Despite nearly-naked teen models posing seductively to sell us practically everything, and the proliferation of homemade sex tapes as star-making vehicles, a youth-led rebellion is already changing course. In Seattle and Pittsburgh, teenage girls protest against companies that sell sleazy clothing. Online, a nineteen-year-old describes her struggles with her mother, who she feels is pressuring her to lose her virginity. In a small town outside Philadelphia, an eleventh-grade girl, upset over a “dirty book” read aloud in English class, takes her case to the school board. These are not your mother’s rebels. In an age where pornography is mainstream, teen clothing seems stripper-patented, and “experts” recommend that we learn to be emotionally detached about sex, a key (and callously) targeted audience–girls–is fed up. Drawing on numerous studies and interviews, Shalit makes the case that today’s virulent “bad girl” mindset most truly oppresses young women. Nowadays, as even the youngest teenage girls feel the pressure to become cold sex sirens, put their bodies on public display, and suppress their feelings in order to feel accepted and (temporarily) loved, many young women are realizing that “friends with benefits” are often anything but. And as these girls speak for themselves, we see that what is expected of them turns out to be very different from what is in their own hearts. 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. Written with sincerity and upbeat humor, Girls Gone Mild rescues the good girl from the realm of mythology and old manners guides to show that today’s version is the real rebel: She is not “people pleasing” or repressed; she is simply reclaiming her individuality. These empowering stories are sure to be an inspiration to teenagers and parents alike.


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At twenty-three, Wendy Shalit punctured conventional wisdom with A Return to Modesty, arguing that our hope for true lasting love is not a problem to be fixed but rather a wonderful instinct that forms the basis for civilization. Now, in Girls Gone Mild, the brilliantly outspoken author investigates an emerging new movement. Despite nearly-naked teen models posing seductiv At twenty-three, Wendy Shalit punctured conventional wisdom with A Return to Modesty, arguing that our hope for true lasting love is not a problem to be fixed but rather a wonderful instinct that forms the basis for civilization. Now, in Girls Gone Mild, the brilliantly outspoken author investigates an emerging new movement. Despite nearly-naked teen models posing seductively to sell us practically everything, and the proliferation of homemade sex tapes as star-making vehicles, a youth-led rebellion is already changing course. In Seattle and Pittsburgh, teenage girls protest against companies that sell sleazy clothing. Online, a nineteen-year-old describes her struggles with her mother, who she feels is pressuring her to lose her virginity. In a small town outside Philadelphia, an eleventh-grade girl, upset over a “dirty book” read aloud in English class, takes her case to the school board. These are not your mother’s rebels. In an age where pornography is mainstream, teen clothing seems stripper-patented, and “experts” recommend that we learn to be emotionally detached about sex, a key (and callously) targeted audience–girls–is fed up. Drawing on numerous studies and interviews, Shalit makes the case that today’s virulent “bad girl” mindset most truly oppresses young women. Nowadays, as even the youngest teenage girls feel the pressure to become cold sex sirens, put their bodies on public display, and suppress their feelings in order to feel accepted and (temporarily) loved, many young women are realizing that “friends with benefits” are often anything but. And as these girls speak for themselves, we see that what is expected of them turns out to be very different from what is in their own hearts. 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. Written with sincerity and upbeat humor, Girls Gone Mild rescues the good girl from the realm of mythology and old manners guides to show that today’s version is the real rebel: She is not “people pleasing” or repressed; she is simply reclaiming her individuality. These empowering stories are sure to be an inspiration to teenagers and parents alike.

30 review for Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It's Not Bad to Be Good

  1. 4 out of 5

    Skylar Burris

    Whenever I have spoken to a baby boomer feminist about sex, it has felt something like this: A woman grows up at the end of thirty years of drought, while her daughters grow up in the midst of thirty years of flood, but the memory of the drought is so bad, that anytime she sees her daughters bailing water out of the boat, she instinctively cries, "Stop! Do you want to send us back to the drought?!" GIRLS GONE MILD is a book that acknowledges we need to bail out the boat but that we can do so wit Whenever I have spoken to a baby boomer feminist about sex, it has felt something like this: A woman grows up at the end of thirty years of drought, while her daughters grow up in the midst of thirty years of flood, but the memory of the drought is so bad, that anytime she sees her daughters bailing water out of the boat, she instinctively cries, "Stop! Do you want to send us back to the drought?!" GIRLS GONE MILD is a book that acknowledges we need to bail out the boat but that we can do so without going back to the drought. The book relates the hope that a "fourth-wave" of feminism will empower women through modesty and sexual restraint in a world saturated with meaningless sex and ubiquitous sexual imagery. Many younger feminists, writes Shalit, find the idea of "decency tremendously appealing, whereas to the older ones, it is the chief problem." I can only hope she is right about the former statement; my own experience suggests she is probably right about the latter. I know older feminists who would be infuriated by the mere use of the word "decency" in that sentence: "How dare you suggest that a woman is being sexually indecent for ANY reason!" Yet, if we can't suggest that, how can we with any reasonable consistency suggest that a man is being sexually indecent for any reason? And how does it really benefit women, in the long run, when society removes all boundaries of sexual decency (with the single exception of rape)? In a single sentence, Shalit summarizes what has been my primary concern about feminism as I have encountered it: "Girls must do everything boys do, even if it's not working." The sexual double-standard of the 1950's was overturned by dramatically lowering the sexual standards for women instead of by raising the standard for men. This is certainly the easiest solution to any double-standard, but is it really the best solution for the majority of women? Are casual sex, "friends with benefits," passing out condoms like candy in schools, and public displays of female sexuality really "working" for women? The behavior of most men, to at least some degree, will be influenced by the demands of most women. If nothing is what most women appear to expect, nothing is what more and more men will begin to deliver. This may be fine if you're content to expect no chivalrous behavior from men, but what if you're not? Your world may nevertheless be affected by the low expectations of other women. As one ex-model interviewed by the author says, "the definition of a Decent Man has been expanded to include" all sorts of disrespectful behaviors towards women. I agree with Shalit that "sexual liberation" has unfortunately involved (consciously or unconsciously) encouraging women to have sex by men's rules and then to repress their emotions (their doubts, their feelings of discontent, their sense of being used, their guilt) afterward. Well, sex divorced from love and long-term relationships doesn't seem to be "working" for many women, but many feminists are loath to admit it. If young women feel any guilt or pain about their choice to engage in unattached sex, it is because of the ugly remnants of society's sexist double standard, and not because their emotions are a valid warning that should be heeded. Young women, argues Shalit, have been fed the lie that casual sex is bound to be just as enjoyable for girls as it is for guys, leaving many women wounded with "the pain of feeling that society had abandoned them by failing to inform them of the emotional consequences of sex." Having grown up post-sexual revolution, and not having been a part of a religious subculture until college, I myself remember hearing form the lips of countless educators and elders, "They're just going to do it anyway." In other words, if you were a young person with a desire to be abstinent, what you heard from almost everyone in authority was: "You have an ideal? That's nice. You're going to FAIL. Here's a condom." As a teenager, I don't recall any adult ever telling me, "You CAN succeed in being abstinent if you want to be, and it's a worthy goal." Shalit points out, and I think this is true, that the attitude of adults that kids "are going to do it anyway" only "adds to the pressure." The silver lining is all this is that every generation rebels against its parents, and teenagers are now beginning to rebel against the "sexual revolution." Shalit recounts many examples of such rebellious young women in her book. So obviously I think this is a positive book with important truths. Why then do I not give it five stars? Shalit's approach is highly anecdotal and rather skewed toward extreme examples. While I agree with the author's basic thesis, I found her approach far too sensational. At one point, she says, "You may insist that this is a crazy example indicative of nothing, but…" and I had to say, "Yes, I might." Far too many of her examples seemed to be "crazy" examples "indicative of nothing" except the existence of a minority of perverse and/or stupid people. I agree the pendulum has swung too far in the direction of sexual liberalization, but I don't think it ever swung, for the majority of average Americans, quite as far as this book implies. In a sense, Shalit feeds into the very thing she criticizes: she perpetuates the false perception that sex absent long-term relationship is the social norm when it probably really isn't the social norm at all; it is only *perceived* as the social norm, which adds to the pressure for many young people. One final criticism I have is that the author waxes a little too nostalgic for a variety of eras prior to 1960.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mary

    The things we do for research... I tried to read this book (against Jessica Valenti's advice and my own better judgment) as part of a research project. Alas, it's unbearable. Shalit has created the worst kind of propaganda: a book that actively misinterprets its source material to shore up a regressive message. (And then dresses said regressive message up as empowerment.) In the bits I managed to power through, Shalit took issue with everything from the ahistoricism of Pleasantville to the "bitch The things we do for research... I tried to read this book (against Jessica Valenti's advice and my own better judgment) as part of a research project. Alas, it's unbearable. Shalit has created the worst kind of propaganda: a book that actively misinterprets its source material to shore up a regressive message. (And then dresses said regressive message up as empowerment.) In the bits I managed to power through, Shalit took issue with everything from the ahistoricism of Pleasantville to the "bitch" mentality promoted in the Dixie Chicks song "Not Ready to Make Nice." Now, for the record, the characters of Pleasantville travel into a spot-on '50s TV show - not the 50s proper- and the Dixie Chicks released Not Ready to Make Nice in the wake of endless boycotts, CD burnings, and death threats. But context is clearly irrelevant to Shalit. She further misrepresents the work of numerous reputable sex educators (Heather Corinna, Cory Silverburg, and the entirety of Planned Parenthood, for starters) -- replacing their good advice with heterosexist, sexist, drivel based on anecdotal evidence and her abstinence-only agenda. Plenty of studies have used valid measures to disprove her thesis (that we've made sluttiness socially acceptable, and thus girls are unhappy, so we all need to bake pies and wait out marriage), but since Shalit stuck with hearsay, I'll respond in kind: As a 20-something lady from the generation in question, trudging through this book made me far more unhappy than being sexual ever has. Reader discretion advised.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    It seems weird to say this, but this was a fun read. Shalit's wry sense of humor pops up in unexpected ways (such as when she suddenly takes off on a reverie about "KUGEL" parties as an alternative to NYC's sex-saturated "CAKE" parties). There are stories of girls and women who are going against the grain of low standards and "sex sells" and this leavens the overall depressing news that the book reports about our current cultural environment in all its darkness and vapidity. Generationally speaki It seems weird to say this, but this was a fun read. Shalit's wry sense of humor pops up in unexpected ways (such as when she suddenly takes off on a reverie about "KUGEL" parties as an alternative to NYC's sex-saturated "CAKE" parties). There are stories of girls and women who are going against the grain of low standards and "sex sells" and this leavens the overall depressing news that the book reports about our current cultural environment in all its darkness and vapidity. Generationally speaking, I'm somewhere in the middle of the women discussed in this book. I have two young daughters, and my parents were Baby Boomers. I experienced some of the pressure to be "bad" as a girl, and especially when I got to college all the pressure to be "comfortable with my body" (which meant letting other people intrude on your personal space, as near as I could tell). But what I experienced was less intense than what is currently acceptable. And after all in the 1990s when I was a teen, dumpy jeans, logger shirts, and boots were the style, so if you wanted to keep yourself covered up there was at least a way to do so without stigma. Wearing a shirt with a vulgar sexual message would have still marked you as One of Those Girls--not a good thing. But on the other hand, we got bombed with massive TMI in sex ed class, and when my mother protested that maybe at 12 years of age I didn't need to know all about oral, we were blacklisted as that weird prudish "Christian" family, even though my mom was and is an agnostic, and there was a general attitude that only "repressed" people cared about having strict personal boundaries. As a mother I am doing my best to keep my girls protected from this vulture-like hypersexualized culture, and it's amazing how early you have to start the constant vigilance. Reading this book made me feel really good about my decision to homeschool, as I believe that the toxic social environment in many schools is the single biggest threat to girls' intellectual and professional achievement. I also felt validated in my disillusionment with the feminism of my contemporaries, and what's supposed to pass for "empowerment" these days. I noticed a while back, for instance, that the "feminist" and "women's issues" section of the left wing webzine Salon.com consists mostly of fluff about celebrities and sexual trend stories about hooking up, porn, prostitution, etc. And not hard-hitting reporting, either, for instance about how porn reinforces negative images of women. Just stuff like "OMG porn is fun, wow!" breathless oohing over the fact that like, women can have sex too! It has struck me more and more as juvenile and even backwards. There's so much more to being a woman than having a body and having sex. And there should be so much more to feminism than Vagina Monologues vapidity--"what would your vagina wear?" But anymore, that's what we're supposed to settle with. Does anyone ever stop to wonder why?

  4. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    This book was jaw-dropping. I had no idea how much sexuality is actually marketed to girls starting around age 4. The book talks about the Bratz dolls, toddler tees that say "Sexy" and "Lust", and Limited Too selling rhinestoned-thongs. Wow. This was an eye-opening read that, seriously, every parent of a young daughter needs to read. This book was jaw-dropping. I had no idea how much sexuality is actually marketed to girls starting around age 4. The book talks about the Bratz dolls, toddler tees that say "Sexy" and "Lust", and Limited Too selling rhinestoned-thongs. Wow. This was an eye-opening read that, seriously, every parent of a young daughter needs to read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    According to Shalit you can be a "bad girl" and have non-marital sex which will be horrible and you will immediately regret afterwards/ be scarred for life or you can be a "good girl" and wait til marriage. The world is not so black and white. According to Shalit you can be a "bad girl" and have non-marital sex which will be horrible and you will immediately regret afterwards/ be scarred for life or you can be a "good girl" and wait til marriage. The world is not so black and white.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nicole Cornelius

    Hmmm...I really liked A Return To Modesty...Wendy Shalit's first book, but this one just didn't do it for me. I felt like she could of left out most, if not all, of the descriptions about the current sexual revolution...she didn't leave much to the imagination. One would expect a book about about modesty to be written, in well, a modest manner. Plus many of these behaviors, at least I feel, tend to ere on the extreme side of things and don't necessarily represent the norm. I see what's on TV and Hmmm...I really liked A Return To Modesty...Wendy Shalit's first book, but this one just didn't do it for me. I felt like she could of left out most, if not all, of the descriptions about the current sexual revolution...she didn't leave much to the imagination. One would expect a book about about modesty to be written, in well, a modest manner. Plus many of these behaviors, at least I feel, tend to ere on the extreme side of things and don't necessarily represent the norm. I see what's on TV and in the magazines and am very concerned with the messages that society is sending these girls, but I don't feel like I need a play-by-play. Wendy's points are well made, but I had to sift through a whole lot of shmuck to find them. I appreciated the few stories of girls that are choosing to "go mild", I just wish there had been more of them. And again, these stories ered on the extreme side too. I mean really...how many 15 year olds do YOU know that tour the nation giving lectures on modesty? There are many good things happening out there, enough to write a book on ironically enough, that illustrate the goodness in many of our young women. Do I feel like they are waging an uphill battle? Yes...the media is very powerful, and they (the media) know it. The sad truth is that those who are "mild" in every sense of the word, don't now, never have, and never will get the coverage they deserve. I can see the lies the media is serving our Nation, and find it sad that there aren't more like me, who recognize it, so that brings me to the last point of this review. I think Wendy Shalit was writing this more for the people who haven't "seen the light" if you will. But most of these people would never pick this book up anyway, and if they did they would already be on the defensive side. To bad, because they're the ones who need to hear it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    Wendy Shalit bugs me. She points out a lot of things about the way women, especially young women, are viewed & treated by society that suck, then accuses pretty much everyone who's not a born-again Christian preaching abstinence of contributing to the problem. Apparently, the only solution (and, conveniently, the complete and final solution) to any of this is for young women to "just say no" to sex until they find a nice, young man to marry. There are so many problems with this I don't even know Wendy Shalit bugs me. She points out a lot of things about the way women, especially young women, are viewed & treated by society that suck, then accuses pretty much everyone who's not a born-again Christian preaching abstinence of contributing to the problem. Apparently, the only solution (and, conveniently, the complete and final solution) to any of this is for young women to "just say no" to sex until they find a nice, young man to marry. There are so many problems with this I don't even know where to start. Good lord.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Adri

    Wendy Shalit is trying to make a valid point: it is okay to be a 'good girl.' However, in order to prove she knows what the 'bad girls' are up to and she is, therefore, authorized to make the case for choosing good, she details so many graphic and disgusting things that I just had to put this book down. I was also a little disturbed that she gave little or no credit to religion as a means of instilling values. Her premise seemed to be that some girls are just born with the desire to be chaste an Wendy Shalit is trying to make a valid point: it is okay to be a 'good girl.' However, in order to prove she knows what the 'bad girls' are up to and she is, therefore, authorized to make the case for choosing good, she details so many graphic and disgusting things that I just had to put this book down. I was also a little disturbed that she gave little or no credit to religion as a means of instilling values. Her premise seemed to be that some girls are just born with the desire to be chaste and modest, but others can't really be taught to be that way. Overall, it is okay, in parts, but probably not worth wading through...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ranya

    This book hit the nail on the head for me. Shalit put into words exactly my thoughts on modesty and sexuality. The book took me back ten years, to my high school days when a friend told me, "Be free," while signaling with her hand for me to remove my hijab (headscarf). I remember telling her, "This makes me free," and over the years I've come to appreciate just how liberating modesty can be. Shalit posits that female empowerment does not come from women partaking in meaningless, casual sex as me This book hit the nail on the head for me. Shalit put into words exactly my thoughts on modesty and sexuality. The book took me back ten years, to my high school days when a friend told me, "Be free," while signaling with her hand for me to remove my hijab (headscarf). I remember telling her, "This makes me free," and over the years I've come to appreciate just how liberating modesty can be. Shalit posits that female empowerment does not come from women partaking in meaningless, casual sex as men do; nor is a woman being empowered by dressing (or not dressing for that matter) like an escort. True empowerment comes from being comfortable in your skin without having to show it to the whole world. And, like she says, just because a woman covers up or has the decency to keep her sex life private, it does not mean she is "not comfortable with her sexuality," or that she is ashamed of her body. In fact, the contrary is true: She is so comfortable with her sexuality that she doesn't see the need to make it public business. I agree with Shalit that the sexual liberation these days is just as oppressive to women - or even moreso - as was the repressive pressures put on women in the past. Girls feeling like they have to dress like prostitutes to get attention, dolls that promote sexuality in CHILDREN..., these are pressures women doN'T need! There definitely is a double standard when it comes to male vs. female sexuality. But like Shalit says, instead of lowering women's standards to that of men's (engaging in meaningless, casual relations while repressing emotion, dressing immodestly, etc), why not hold men to the same high standards of women (expecting fidelity and monogamy, demanding respect, etc)??? By dressing and acting modestly, a woman does JUST THAT. The only negative I had in this book was that Shalit failed to even recognize Muslim women in her book... The hijab is worn for precisely the reasons she outlined in her book, and it would have been nice to see her include interviews with Muslim women, as I'm sure she could have found a modest Muslim woman or two!

  10. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    While I agree with the basic point the author is making, I didn't like this book for two reasons. The first (and biggest) reason is that the author spends so much time going into the graphic details of the sexual problems in our society that as a modest, chaste "good girl" I felt uncomfortable reading it. I often didn't even understand the slang and terminology she was using, and found the book overall to be discouraging. Too much talk about the problem and not enough about the good alternative. While I agree with the basic point the author is making, I didn't like this book for two reasons. The first (and biggest) reason is that the author spends so much time going into the graphic details of the sexual problems in our society that as a modest, chaste "good girl" I felt uncomfortable reading it. I often didn't even understand the slang and terminology she was using, and found the book overall to be discouraging. Too much talk about the problem and not enough about the good alternative. The second reason is that while I enjoyed her wittiness and sense of humor, the book would have made it's point better if it wasn't written in such an argumentative fashion. It felt disorganized and like she was repeating the same argument over and over again. I did not, in fact, read the entire book. I first started skimming past the disturbing accounts of what sexuality in America has become, then found myself skipping to the next chapter when I got tired of each over-argued point. Then, when I set the book down to go to bed after having looked at most of the book, found I didn't have any desire to pick it back up again in the morning. I also found much of what she presents as a new idea (basically that being good helps us be happier)to be common sense. That may be because I grew up with strong values and religious beliefs that already led me to the path of "goodness" and happiness. In the end, the only good this book did for me was to make me even more grateful for that upbringing which taught me the way to live and be happy. Apparently most of our children are growing up without that kind of direction and are unhappy as a result of it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Jessica Pierce

    I've been trying to get anyone who will listen to read this book, but it's hard to get past the word modesty when I'm describing it. That is usually the point you see people stop listening. In reality, this book isn't preachy or over the top. I think saying it's about modesty gives critics something to complain about, when in reality it's about teaching girls that they have something more to share with the world than just what is on the outside. I found it very interesting and enlightening. I ho I've been trying to get anyone who will listen to read this book, but it's hard to get past the word modesty when I'm describing it. That is usually the point you see people stop listening. In reality, this book isn't preachy or over the top. I think saying it's about modesty gives critics something to complain about, when in reality it's about teaching girls that they have something more to share with the world than just what is on the outside. I found it very interesting and enlightening. I hope someone I know will read it so we can discuss it!

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dee

    I honestly couldn't finish this book...I was reading it and more and more feeling like I was being called a bad girl because growing up, I wanted to have the stuff that was bring criticized. It seemed as though the underlying motto was you can't be successful as a bad girl...and yet, I have multiple college degrees, a successfull career...so I don't know I honestly couldn't finish this book...I was reading it and more and more feeling like I was being called a bad girl because growing up, I wanted to have the stuff that was bring criticized. It seemed as though the underlying motto was you can't be successful as a bad girl...and yet, I have multiple college degrees, a successfull career...so I don't know

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brittany

    So many great points- I'm really impressed with this author. Was a little hard to read as I live in a bubble and wasn't aware of how sexual our world has become. But I have hope that I can raise my girls to be modest and "good" girls. So many great points- I'm really impressed with this author. Was a little hard to read as I live in a bubble and wasn't aware of how sexual our world has become. But I have hope that I can raise my girls to be modest and "good" girls.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Cydney Boyington

    I did agree with some of the basic points of this book, especially the beginning in which she details the disturbing ways in which children are encouraged to be sexual at such a young age. However, her portrayal of sexuality and gender/ gender relations as black-and-white really makes her arguments seem way too old-school conservative. Had she just focused on promoting the blacklash against casual sex culture and the peer pressure to be 'bad' faced by many young women and girls today that would I did agree with some of the basic points of this book, especially the beginning in which she details the disturbing ways in which children are encouraged to be sexual at such a young age. However, her portrayal of sexuality and gender/ gender relations as black-and-white really makes her arguments seem way too old-school conservative. Had she just focused on promoting the blacklash against casual sex culture and the peer pressure to be 'bad' faced by many young women and girls today that would have been excellent. Her arguments, however, for me were drowned out by her insistence that sexual safety education should not be promoted in schools (though abstinence as a valid choice should really be promoted within public schools too honestly). I don't entirely mean people shouldn't read this, as many of us struggling within a hypersexualized world can identify with some of what she argues.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    I checked this book out from the library because I had read about it somewhere. It's got some really incredible, incredible stuff in there. The downside was that while the author is contrasting some of the good decisions some people are making she describes some of the nastiness and immorality that is rampant in "normal" society. There were some things where I was thinking, "Oh, oh, I didn't need to know about that!" But it was so cool to read about some really inspiring people and the things th I checked this book out from the library because I had read about it somewhere. It's got some really incredible, incredible stuff in there. The downside was that while the author is contrasting some of the good decisions some people are making she describes some of the nastiness and immorality that is rampant in "normal" society. There were some things where I was thinking, "Oh, oh, I didn't need to know about that!" But it was so cool to read about some really inspiring people and the things they are doing to make their lives, and the lives of those around them, better than the lies we are fed by society and the media. A few weeks ago when there was some stuff in the news about schools providing birth control to really young girls without parent notification, I had said to my husband how sad it is that girls don't have an advocate. It's crazy, I've read so much about young women, and even grown women who are intimate with guys they don't actually like because they are told on every side that if they say "no" for any reason that they're repressing themselves or feeling guilty because of old fashioned morals that don't apply anymore. The author makes the point that it seems more oppressive to have sex with someone you don't like because everyone is telling you that you should than to not have sex until it's someone who's really committed. Gosh, I wish everyone could read this. She does a much better job of talking about things than I can. I wish I could offer my friends an edited version. :)

  16. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    In this book, Wendy Shalit criticizes contemporary fashion and entertainment for young girls for its overly sexual and immodest content. She also profiles young women who are making a difference by protesting against this state of affairs and trying to change it. Some parts of this book are very good. The portraits that she draws of the young women standing up for modesty and decency are well drawn and compelling. Shalit's analysis of the role that African-American play in promoting human dignity In this book, Wendy Shalit criticizes contemporary fashion and entertainment for young girls for its overly sexual and immodest content. She also profiles young women who are making a difference by protesting against this state of affairs and trying to change it. Some parts of this book are very good. The portraits that she draws of the young women standing up for modesty and decency are well drawn and compelling. Shalit's analysis of the role that African-American play in promoting human dignity was particularly strong. However, most of her information is anecdotal, leaving me to wonder how common the phenomena she describes really are (both in terms of the extreme immodesty that she describes and the reactions to it). I think she makes the mistake that many social conservatives make of generalizing from a few dramatic incidents of bad/wild behavior to thinking that "everyone" is acting that crazy. She does make a compelling case for modesty. I would recommend this book to anyone with a daughter approaching adolescence.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Courtenay

    Alright. I do agree with the premise of this book, however I didn't like much else about it. Where to start? Shalit is not a good writer and an editor would have shortened the book significantly (she can be very redundant, repetitive, says the same thing over and over with different words, makes the same point several times.... annoying, isn't it?). Shalit seems to want people to hate her and seems to enjoy in the fact that she ticks people off, which will not win anyone over to her side. She qu Alright. I do agree with the premise of this book, however I didn't like much else about it. Where to start? Shalit is not a good writer and an editor would have shortened the book significantly (she can be very redundant, repetitive, says the same thing over and over with different words, makes the same point several times.... annoying, isn't it?). Shalit seems to want people to hate her and seems to enjoy in the fact that she ticks people off, which will not win anyone over to her side. She quotes people out of context, without context and just plain misinterprets what people have said to make a point, so by the end of the book she did not have much creditability as far as I was concerned. Her stance on feminism was frustrating..... And to add a whole chapter on female bullying with the assumption that it's a new phenomenon? Her point was that if we raised girls to be "nice" there would be no female bullying.... I don't need to point out what's wrong with that, right? There was more but I think i've gotten my point across.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Ginger

    I'm a big fan of Wendy Shalit's Return to Modesty. Her second attempt was still well-written and well-researched, but just not nearly as timeless as Modesty. This would possibly be a great book for mothers and daughters to discuss (I would say the daughter need be at least 13+ and on up to early 20s or so), but this felt a little bit like a really, really long article that explored how the concepts of her earlier Modesty were playing out in society. I'm still a fan of Ms. Shalit, but definitely re I'm a big fan of Wendy Shalit's Return to Modesty. Her second attempt was still well-written and well-researched, but just not nearly as timeless as Modesty. This would possibly be a great book for mothers and daughters to discuss (I would say the daughter need be at least 13+ and on up to early 20s or so), but this felt a little bit like a really, really long article that explored how the concepts of her earlier Modesty were playing out in society. I'm still a fan of Ms. Shalit, but definitely read Return to Modesty, and skip this one.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sam Schulman

    From my Commentary review: According to Shalit, the institutions that formerly supported girls in their hesitations and demurrals have now, to a greater or lesser degree, abandoned them. For girls still “on the fence” about sex, the family, the schools, the mass media—even the feminists—too often conspire to push them off. As Shalit tells it, describing the case study of a fifteen-year-old whose boyfriend is pressuring her for sex: Everyone—the pediatrician, the school nurse, the girl’s therapist From my Commentary review: According to Shalit, the institutions that formerly supported girls in their hesitations and demurrals have now, to a greater or lesser degree, abandoned them. For girls still “on the fence” about sex, the family, the schools, the mass media—even the feminists—too often conspire to push them off. As Shalit tells it, describing the case study of a fifteen-year-old whose boyfriend is pressuring her for sex: Everyone—the pediatrician, the school nurse, the girl’s therapist—is encouraging her to use birth control. Her mother is looking for a doctor who will recommend abstaining from sexual activity, but she can’t find one. She keeps hearing, “The kids are all doing it anyway; you’ll be saving her life.” Today it is nearly impossible to find a medical professional who cares enough to ask a girl, “Why do you want to go on birth control?” Or to take the time to point out, “If he’s pressuring you for sex, he probably doesn’t love you.” The consequences of this sexual complaisance are, for girls, dismal—as Shalit copiously documents in a book based both on extensive interviews and on a thorough familiarity with the literature. Thanks to their encounters with boys, sexually active (i.e., promiscuous) girls are more likely than their virtuous peers to suffer from depression, to cut or otherwise mutilate themselves, to attempt suicide, to become victims of bullying, or to become bullies themselves. There is among girls a measurable falling-off of self-esteem, of self-assertion, and of happiness. ... At some point, she suggests, it was “decided” that the natural tendency of young women to become emotionally attached to their sexual partners was a pathology that had to be overcome. Enter the “bad girl” phenomenon, a logical extension of the feminist notion that girls are exactly the same as boys in all things, including in all things sexual. The bad girl—glorified, for example, in the commercial video franchise Girls Gone Wild as a hard-drinking, hard-partying, aggressively and vulgarly sexy exhibitionist with no constraints on her behavior—enjoys all the privileges and prerogatives of young men. Or at least that is the fantasy. In real life, unfortunately, she has little or none of that other male sexual quality: cold-bloodedness. The result has been a steady decrease in female freedom, female self-respect, and female individuality—and a steady increase in female misery. And the good news? Shalit’s evangel is that, spontaneously, many girls are beginning to resist—rediscovering the virtues of self-assertion by rejecting the expectations of others to be “people-pleasing bad girls.” ... She is also confident that these girls speak for many more, and she rests that confidence not only in the proven example of her own subjects but in the power of the unleashed female instinct, even in the face of parental denial, indifference, or disapproval. ... The “bad-girl” phenomenon, taken on its own, is thus understandable enough. Nor is it something new on the sexual scene—bad girls ye shall always have with you. But if it has assumed proportions today that were once unthinkable, that is because it is backed not only by the entertainment media but by legions of parents, teachers, librarians, psychologists, magazine editors, toy companies, editorialists, and other professional kibitzers, all of whom have become complicitous in the degradation Shalit describes. Shalit’s villains—like the figure of Satan in Paradise Lost, they are, in truth, among the more fascinating characters in her drama—are almost always figures of authority, people who have a claim to superiority by virtue of their age, their role as parents, or their professional status. They include the male professor who suggests that a female student “dress more provocatively,” the upper-middle-class do-gooders at NOW who refuse to condemn Girls Gone Wild, the middle-school teacher who encourages her girls to prepare simulated lap-dances for student recitals, “mothers defend[ing:] see-through shirts, fathers rally[ing:] for cleavage during the school day, and Catholic schoolteachers advocat[ing:] for miniskirts.” In Shalit’s re-creation, the vulgar sexualization against which her heroines struggle is thus in most cases something imposed on them not so much by their peers as by adults, in an act of imperialism de haut en bas. It is the authorities who have gone wild, and the young who suffer. ... There is also a perverse form of class snobbery at work. The particular expressions of female sexuality permitted or encouraged share a style for which the collective term is trash. Tobacco Road has come to Main Street, Park Avenue, and Sheridan Road. And this is an enormous innovation. For centuries, when it came to dress, family habits, tastes in art and culture, or educational ideals, children were urged by their parents to act like gentlemen and ladies. In pre-World War II movies, plucky typists played by Irene Dunn, Greer Garson, or Bette Davis carefully ironed their fluttery blouse collars so as to become the social equals of their bosses and avoid being high-hatted by their prospective mothers-in-law. Even a sluttish Joan Blondell in Three on a Match could be a lady and marry Warren Williams; she did not need a Swiss finishing school for the purpose, just an ironing board. Ten years ago, Elizabeth Wurtzel, in a now-forgotten book, proposed a replacement for these antique ideals: the Long Island “bitch” Amy Fisher, who at the age of seventeen attempted to murder her older boyfriend’s wife, wielding a different kind of iron for the purpose. On a less lurid scale, parents have freed girls from expectations of lady-like behavior by giving them “Bratz” dolls for their tea parties and inventing the affectionate term “prostitots” for their little darlings. Why? Shalit describes the process in horrifying detail, but does not ask what has driven it. Her young heroines, standing up to the demands of conformity and vulgarization, are indubitably courageous, and wise beyond their years. Still, the question remains: after generations of feminist lectures on female empowerment, after study upon study of the disempowering damage done to women by their so-called sexual liberation, why do the “sisters” still turn away in disdain from this mini-movement for “mildness”? Shalit’s book has been attacked by one feminist critic for suggesting that the sex act “should have an everlasting warranty of love attached to it.” ... Protecting young girls from harm is sexism, while dissuading them from virtue is—virtuous? Confronted with this seeming paradox, trying to explain it rationally, an amateur anthropologist might begin by recalling the reason for the existence of sexual repression in the first place: namely, to civilize the world within the household. Conducive to this civilizing purpose is the often explosive sexuality of adolescence, which directs the nubile or sexually ready child out of the home and into the world to find an exogamous mate and continue the dance, founding another household and starting another generation—which must, for a time, be once again repressed. But now we live in an age in which social organization and technology have worked a profound change in the nature of human households. We have ordinary households with two working and often absentee parents, with economic equality between men and women, with no separation between the spheres of men’s work and women’s work—and with a high and unremarkable incidence of divorce. Could it be that, in these circumstances, parents are, with reason, more anxious than ever to prepare children for life outside the home—a home that may not exist in a year or two? If so, then perhaps all this dressing-up of their little elementary- or middle-school girls in black fishnet stockings, miniskirts, partly revealed thongs, and cerise halter tops—this exercise in turning them into “prostitots”—is a rationally defensible means of preparing them to survive in a world where courtship is non-existent, chivalry dead, and marriage meaningless, where a man’s contribution to the family is fleeting, and where female aggressiveness toward other, rival females is to be taken for granted, a matter of expedient common sense. End of thought experiment.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Cindy

    Pretty enlightening and pretty sad as to what many young women have been reduced to in our culture today. It's a long book but worth reading. It was written about 10 years ago and I am sure things have become worse instead of better sadly. Pretty enlightening and pretty sad as to what many young women have been reduced to in our culture today. It's a long book but worth reading. It was written about 10 years ago and I am sure things have become worse instead of better sadly.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Oriyah Nitkin

    My feelings about this book are complex, as are my thoughts. On the one hand, I think its an important book with important information. I also think the writer has a true way with language and a snarky sense of humor that literally had me laughing out loud several times (something I almost NEVER do when I read). On the other hand, I found it to be a bit redundant at times, with a tad of circular logic in certain chapters (I didn't mark down which). It also seems the book could be summed up as "T My feelings about this book are complex, as are my thoughts. On the one hand, I think its an important book with important information. I also think the writer has a true way with language and a snarky sense of humor that literally had me laughing out loud several times (something I almost NEVER do when I read). On the other hand, I found it to be a bit redundant at times, with a tad of circular logic in certain chapters (I didn't mark down which). It also seems the book could be summed up as "The culture of girls is going to pot, there is no hope...except - there are a handful of people out there doing and saying the exact opposite of what is popular, and they are potentially approaching a critical mass, so join the revolution as the tide might be about to turn, and will if you help it along, so there's hope, please join us!" I also happen to be an Orthodox Jew, so I don't really have enough experience to vouch for the horrors that the author describes in mainstream western culture. What she says of Orthodoxy is true. If the rest is true, then this book is crucial, but how would I ever know? In addition, the one question that truly kept leaping back into my mind was, "Who is this book's target audience?" I mean, really! The author presupposes that the reader has a certain familiarity with the Orthodox Jewish world, but those that are truly familiar would never need a book like this (except as potentially wayward teens and young women who could potentially be lured back into the fold.) People bogged down in hypersexuality may fit the bill, but then this one could have used a bit of glossing in the back, and a little less Orthofocus. Overall funny and important and I'd read it again in a heartbeat. And my friends will be too, as soon as a I recommend it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    G--

    I was unimpressed with Shalit's earlier book on modesty [A Return to Modesty] because I felt that the writing and ideas were undeveloped [as was the very young author]. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the author's maturation as evidenced in this book. One of her main points--that a culture based upon casual sex, although sexually liberated, is emotionally repressive to women--was argued in a very compelling fashion. Her point is that all of the magazine and other advocates of divorcing se I was unimpressed with Shalit's earlier book on modesty [A Return to Modesty] because I felt that the writing and ideas were undeveloped [as was the very young author]. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the author's maturation as evidenced in this book. One of her main points--that a culture based upon casual sex, although sexually liberated, is emotionally repressive to women--was argued in a very compelling fashion. Her point is that all of the magazine and other advocates of divorcing sex from feeling [ala Sex and the City] have to constantly remind women to hide their attachments or feelings, lest they frighten men off. So, what's real liberation, she asks? The freedom to be sexually active, or the freedom to love the man with whom you sleep. The book actually reminds me that Gloria Steinem always noted that the sexual revolution [meaning the loosening of sexual restrictions] was not for the benefit of women, it was for the benefit of men, who wanted sex to be divorced from obligation. She, rather strangely, presents this as a youthful argument i.e. it's the chaste young people against the dogmatic baby boomers. To her credit, she hates Bratz as much as I do. One problem, however, is the magazine-like hysterical tone. She bases her arguments on random examples and anecdotes, assuming that each is automatically a representation of a broader problem. This was a weakness in her earlier book too. Although her points are well taken, they would be better presented with another [dare I say it, more mature] author.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily Petit

    An absolutely fascinating (and validating) read for women of all ages. However, the author generalizes more than an open-minded researcher ought to, and does not break her arguments into the facets that would hold the pieces of her perspective together. I believe this is because she is slightly swayed by her Jewish upbringing and young age (she was thirty at the time this book was written). She also neglects to address certain components of some of the modern-day issues that find a place in this An absolutely fascinating (and validating) read for women of all ages. However, the author generalizes more than an open-minded researcher ought to, and does not break her arguments into the facets that would hold the pieces of her perspective together. I believe this is because she is slightly swayed by her Jewish upbringing and young age (she was thirty at the time this book was written). She also neglects to address certain components of some of the modern-day issues that find a place in this otherwise engrossing volume. It really is refreshing to be reminded that not every girl should be forced into making choices: the main issue for me is that Ms. Shalit sometimes forgets to take into account that we are all individuals and might have different desires. She paints young women as having a sort of "blanket longing" for innocence and purity. Finally, Ms. Shalit writes with a certain amount of uncertainty, her voice bordering in humorous but stumbling over what are apparently intended to amuse the reader. Overall, however, "Girls Gone Mild" makes a solid case for individuals who DO wish to divert from the mainstream insistence upon women having a lot of sex and parading the inner "bitch". Women, Ms. Shalit makes clear, if sometimes clumsily, should have choices, and if her arguments sometimes seem one-layered, she has at least tapped into a realm no one really wants to touch.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Rosemary

    I read Wendy Shalit's other book (A Return to Modesty) earlier this year and found it refreshing and interesting. In contrast, I found this book to be rather tedious and an unnecessary read. The book is divided into chapters, but each one is basically repeating all the others. All the ideas sort of blend together into one big, redundant argument. I also think that another reason why this book just didn't do it for me is that my experiences have been different than Ms. Shalit's. She makes these sw I read Wendy Shalit's other book (A Return to Modesty) earlier this year and found it refreshing and interesting. In contrast, I found this book to be rather tedious and an unnecessary read. The book is divided into chapters, but each one is basically repeating all the others. All the ideas sort of blend together into one big, redundant argument. I also think that another reason why this book just didn't do it for me is that my experiences have been different than Ms. Shalit's. She makes these sweeping generalizations that may ring true for her college and other life experiences, but they just don't add up with what I've experienced. I think there is much less division between the "wild" and the "mild" girls than she portrays in this book. And I think it's unfair to both sides for them to be portrayed this way. Overall, I agree with her arguments (I mean, it's kind of almost impossible not to) but I think she's too harsh with an argument that's sort of obvious.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    According to this book, there are women in our society who want to be modest and private about their sexuality rather than promiscuous and always on display. Wendy Shalit explores how these women are perceived by both their supporters and critics. She posits that the over-sexualization of young people and the proliferation of casual sex have actually damaged people's abilities to have emotional relationships. There is a myth about sexual liberation that many young women are still buying into, an According to this book, there are women in our society who want to be modest and private about their sexuality rather than promiscuous and always on display. Wendy Shalit explores how these women are perceived by both their supporters and critics. She posits that the over-sexualization of young people and the proliferation of casual sex have actually damaged people's abilities to have emotional relationships. There is a myth about sexual liberation that many young women are still buying into, and they're getting a raw deal. While I did not agree with the author's methods of research- much of it is anecdotal- there is much food for thought in this book. I found that reading it in public started several interesting conversation with strangers and friends alike. Highly recommended for those who work with teens and children.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    Author Wendy Shalit is a friend-of-a-friend, I've been aware of her work for some time and have read several of her newspaper opinion pieces. Having 3 daughters prompted me to read one of her books. Though she has become a lightening rod for criticism from so-called "real feminists", her argument that being a "bad girl" carries great risk, and little reward for girls. It is very sad to read how mean girls are to each other; and how parents are unwilling or incapable of setting boundaries. She de Author Wendy Shalit is a friend-of-a-friend, I've been aware of her work for some time and have read several of her newspaper opinion pieces. Having 3 daughters prompted me to read one of her books. Though she has become a lightening rod for criticism from so-called "real feminists", her argument that being a "bad girl" carries great risk, and little reward for girls. It is very sad to read how mean girls are to each other; and how parents are unwilling or incapable of setting boundaries. She describes one particulary caring friend: "it wasn't merely that she cared about other people...her sense of self was expanded and included other people, and so their triumphs were hers." Relationships, friendships are not a zero sum game; that is a value we should aspire to have and to pass on to our children.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Good arguments for a discourse about human and female dignity. Including an acceptance of return to modest dress (or even being provided widely available options for modest clothing), respectful discourse about and among women, and a corrective media image of young females minds and bodies. Heavy on the religious argumentation, but some real critical highlights, including: a call for positive female role-models--those that espouse being a good person as opposed to a sexual deviant in order to li Good arguments for a discourse about human and female dignity. Including an acceptance of return to modest dress (or even being provided widely available options for modest clothing), respectful discourse about and among women, and a corrective media image of young females minds and bodies. Heavy on the religious argumentation, but some real critical highlights, including: a call for positive female role-models--those that espouse being a good person as opposed to a sexual deviant in order to live authentically; an increased tolerance for diversity among female choices for dress and sexual activity levels (among others--feminine pluralism generally); and a holistic approach to raising and educating girls/women as people with bodies, minds, spirits and, especially, hearts.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Abigail

    Entertainingly written but hard to really see her perspective objectively (because I emotionally identify with her beliefs). I think a lot of her arguments were not adequately substantiated, but as her premise is mostly to "legitimize the modesty option" it accomplishes its goal. Tying her theories to anthropological studies would have been instructive. Like Western modesty vs. modesty in the African wilds. etc. Also,it felt a bit disorganized- maybe on second reading the structure would show th Entertainingly written but hard to really see her perspective objectively (because I emotionally identify with her beliefs). I think a lot of her arguments were not adequately substantiated, but as her premise is mostly to "legitimize the modesty option" it accomplishes its goal. Tying her theories to anthropological studies would have been instructive. Like Western modesty vs. modesty in the African wilds. etc. Also,it felt a bit disorganized- maybe on second reading the structure would show through more. Still, as this is the only book of its kind I've read, I would still recommend it to those who are grappling with these issues. ps deals with explicit concepts in a not so delicate manner

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    While some of you fellow feminists might be offended by the biggest title, this book really examined how girls being easy, petty, and manipulative in order to please or obtain men has got to stop if we are going to regain any respect or dignity. There were a few examples I thought were taken too far, but for the most part, I thought she was right on the money. We as girls need to have our skills and knowledge looked at more than a tight shirt we are wearing. I wish I would have read this book in While some of you fellow feminists might be offended by the biggest title, this book really examined how girls being easy, petty, and manipulative in order to please or obtain men has got to stop if we are going to regain any respect or dignity. There were a few examples I thought were taken too far, but for the most part, I thought she was right on the money. We as girls need to have our skills and knowledge looked at more than a tight shirt we are wearing. I wish I would have read this book in high school; I think it would have saved me some grief.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Carole

    For a book about modesty, there sure is a lot of sexual content. That's my only complaint and that's why it gets less than 5 stars. Really, I feel she's addressing a topic that's important enough that I don't mind that I don't necessarily agree with every detail or with some of the scare tactics she uses. Her general thesis is that we aren't doing girls any favors by expecting them to conform to a "bad girl" image. And I think that's true. I heard Wendy Shalit speak at BYU a few years ago and I For a book about modesty, there sure is a lot of sexual content. That's my only complaint and that's why it gets less than 5 stars. Really, I feel she's addressing a topic that's important enough that I don't mind that I don't necessarily agree with every detail or with some of the scare tactics she uses. Her general thesis is that we aren't doing girls any favors by expecting them to conform to a "bad girl" image. And I think that's true. I heard Wendy Shalit speak at BYU a few years ago and I liked what she had to say.

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