Return to Modesty
Revised and updated, this fifteenth anniversary edition of A Return to Modesty reignites Wendy Shalit’s controversial claim that we have lost our respect for an essential virtue: modesty.
When A Return to Modesty was first published in 1999, it began an important and much-needed national conversation. Wendy Shalit persuasively argued that modesty is not some hang-up we should set out to cure, but rather a wonderful instinct that, if rediscovered and given the right social support, has the power to transform society. Now, in this newly revised edition, Shalit backs up her claim with the latest trends and research to prove that the issue is just as pressing today as ever.
Unfortunately, many problems Shalit originally explored, such as date rape, harassment, and most alarmingly, the sexualization of young girls, have only become more prevalant. Where once a young woman was ashamed of her sexual experience, today she is ashamed of her sexual inexperience. And as we continue to push the limits of what is accepted behavior, the pressure to overcome embarrassment and discard all sense of modesty is greater than ever.
A Return to Modesty is a deeply personal account as well as a fascinating intellectual exploration into everything from seventeenth-century manners to the 1948 tune “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Beholden neither to social conservatives nor to feminists, Shalit reminds us that modesty is not prudery, but a natural instinct—and one that may be able to save us from ourselves.
Author: Wendy Shalit