A modest backlash against the culture

Posted: Dec 09, 2005 12:05 AM

The following is from a new blog: "Waiting to meet an old friend for lunch the other day, my eye fell on the young woman at the table across the aisle. She was attractive, nicely put together in a casual way: T-shirt, jeans, Eskimo-style boots, and a neat ponytail. The lady with her appeared to be her middle-aged mother. Ultimately, I noticed that her T-shirt had some strange writing on it, which is hard to do justice to, while being sensitive to the fact that ModestyZone has some young readers. I will do my best. It read: '"I'D F*** ME" (without the asterisks of course). Hmmmm. Hmmmmm? . . . What could this young woman have been thinking? And how on earth could her middle-aged companion sip her soup and not be mortified at the outrageous slogan proudly displayed on the chest across the table?"

 The above post is from a new website called Modestlyyours.net (see also the parent site ModestyZone.net), recently launched by Wendy Shalit, author of "A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue." Twenty women of all ages, races, and backgrounds push back against the onslaught of vulgarity and loutishness that infests, no, is popular culture in our day. It's a very small island of sanity, but all the more welcome for that. In fact, based on unscientific samplings from around the country, I'd wager that millions of women share the views offered here yet feel outnumbered and beleaguered.

 The young lady who wore that T-shirt has been raised in a trash culture. She must have learned before she was ten that innocence is scorned in our society, whereas raunchiness can make you rich and famous. She has seen Paris Hilton rocket to stardom on the strength of a video that circulated on the Internet showing her having sex with her boyfriend. She has seen Britney Spears figure out that the way to success was not the girl next door persona but the slut look. She knows that television entertainment producers are reluctant to show stars smoking cigarettes lest they set a bad example for youngsters, yet they saturate their programming with sexual titillation and bed hopping (and not among adults married to each other). She knows that her local mall is chock full of sexy clothes for girls as young as 8 and 9. And she has perhaps watched (though without the sorrow she ought to feel) the degeneration of Lindsay Lohan, who burst on the Hollywood scene as an adorable pre-teen -- all auburn hair and freckles and sparkle -- and in the space of only a very few years turned into a prematurely debauched, sallow, coarse, painted lady. Lohan is a fitting symbol of our age.

 Women did this to themselves of course, by signing on to the sexual revolution in the '60s and '70s. The feminists thought they were achieving equality with men. They got something else altogether. Another blog entry on the site mentions that the writer's 16-year-old nephew gets offers of oral sex from his female classmates on a somewhat regular basis. Ah, yes, sisterhood is powerful ain't it?

 Modestlyyours.net is an antidote to the vulgarity that is shoved in our faces from magazine covers, television, raunch radio, movies, and shows ("The Vagina Monologues" is a success?). Here on this small piece of cyberspace, you will find young women like Rashida Jolley, a former Miss District of Columbia. She is a singer and abstinence advocate whose first CD is called "Love is Not a Game." Meghan Grizzle is a 20-year-old Harvard student who volunteers as a mentor to third and fifth grade Boston girls and heads Harvard Right to Life. Tzippy Cohen (who is pictured feeding a tiger cub from a bottle) survived a terrorist bombing in Israel and now works in Los Angeles attempting to make short films on important subjects. Eve Grubin, a born and bred New Yorker, is a poet whose work has appeared in The American Poetry Review and The New Republic, among other places.

 Each of these women rejects the sexual standards of the age. Each has reached for the dignity and even serenity that grows out of a more traditional understanding of sex. Some are married and mothers, others are not. Shalit names a "rebel of the month" on the site, choosing young women who exemplify modesty, intelligence, and integrity. They are the counter counterculture -- and not a minute too soon.