a protection mechanism against suchrnhurt: modesty. Modest)’ is what makes arnwoman instinctively pull back fromrnsleeping with a man of whose lasting affectionsrnshe is not sure. But a womanrnwho refuses premarital sex today is usuallyrncounseled to overcome her “hangups”:rnSociety no longer sanctions femalernmodesty. “Before,” as Miss Shalit pointsrnout, “it was a woman’s prerogative to sayrnno—she didn’t have to join some politicalrnrally to enjoy this right—while now itrnis a man’s prerogative to expect sex.”rnThe reason most men used to respectrnphysical rejection was that “female modest)’rngave men a frame of reference for arnwoman’s ‘no.'” Today, “taught from dayrnone that women are always as ready to receivernadvances as they are eager to makernthem, the modern male always takes arn’no’ as a personal rebuke,” leading. MissrnShalit thinks, to the increase of “daternrape” and violence against women.rnObsessive sex education in publicrnschools and, to a lesser extent, pornographyrncarry much of the blame for the devaluingrnof female modesty, says MissrnShalit. When, from early childhood,rnchildren are beaten over the head withrnthe message that sexual activity isrn”healthy” and “normal” —outside anyrnmoral context of when and with whom itrnis appropriate—they feel that not engagingrnin such activity is unhealthy and abnormal.rnSo the liberal agenda of freeingrneervone of hang-ups and liberatingrnwomen has resulted in women tn’ing tornact like “unpaid prostitutes” and in menrntreating them as such, to the horror ofrnwomen besieged by predatory males.rnLike many conservatives before her.rnMiss Shalit correctlv lays blame at thernfeet of feminists: “Thev want the men tornbe gentlemen without having to bernladies.” But she also hits conservativesrnwith her insistence on some long-overduernresponsibilit)’ of their own: “Conser-rnatives, mostly men, for their part, wantrnthe vomen to be ladies, while still gettingrnto do w hatever they want, and cluckingrn’boys will be boys.'”rnMiss Shalit has another bone to pickrnwith conservatives: the belittling of girls’rnself-esteem problems, which often resultrnin severe eating disorders and otherrnforms of self-destruction. She presentsrncase after case of girls as young as 1 ^ whornunhappily succumb to the social pressuresrnof their peers and sleep with boysrnthey hardly know, so they will not have tornbe ashamed of their sexual inexperience.rnNot too long ago, grown women had tornhide any premarital sexual experience;rntoday, schoolgirls have to conceal thernfact that they are still virgins. This makesrnyoimg girls so miserable. Miss Shalit argues,rnthat more and more physicallyrnharm themselves, often through anorexiarnand bulimia. She has an interestingrntheory about eating disorders (one nornless plausible than the feminists’ insistencernthat “the patriarchy makes themrndo it”): “In a culture that permits foodrnhang-ups but not sex hang-ups, it’s becomernthe new way for a girl to expressrnher modesty, to restore distance betweenrnmen and herself”rnDespite its sad anecdotes, A Return tornModesty—unlike many feminist plaints—rnis not a sob stor’. Indeed it is not even arncomplaint, but a recognition of what hasrngone wrong—and how a bad situationrncan be fixed. “Any return to male courtesyrnmust begin with a change in women.”rnFrom saying “no” to casual sex tornsaying “yes” to men opening doors forrnthem, women should be “equal to menrnas women.” They must also rebuild thern”cartel of virtue” —if women stop slammingrndoors on men’s fingers, men willrnnot have to think twice before openingrnthem, and if women stop engaging in casualrnsex, men will have to think Kvice beforernmaking crude advances.rnBut A Return to Modesty is not merelyrna utilitarian strategy to make men behave;rnnor is it prudish. It is above all romantic.rnMen do fall in love and want tornbe conmiitted to one woman —if theyrnhave the chance to love her soul beforernthey love her body. (And, yes, womenrnenjoy sex too; they just prefer great sexrnwith one man to bad sex with many.)rnMiss Shalit writes not to accuse, but torncelebrate the very real and lasting romanticrn(and erotic) love that has existedrnbetveen men and vomen, and still canrntoday. With true charm, wit, and grace,rnshe stands unabashedly by her insightsrninto human nature and, at only 23,rnseems much wiser than the gaggle ofrnfeminists screeching that “sexism” is tornblame for all of women’s troubles. MissrnShalit, in fact, advocates “a good dose ofrnsexist upbringing” for children, becausernit is precisely the sexist recognition of differencesrnbetween men and women thatrncreates respect. Believing that womenrnshoidd be men is what makes a societ)’rnmisogynistic.rnAs succinctly as anyone could. MissrnShalit explains thatrnmodesty is the proof that moralityrnis sex’. It may even be the proof ofrnGod, because it means that wernhave been designed in such a wa’rnthat when we humans act like animals,rnwithout any restraint andrnwithout any rules, we just don’trnhave as much fun.rnAnd for any woman who ever felt therernwas something unnatural about our societ)”rns “natural” preoccupation with sex,rnthis book is the idtimate confirmationrnthat she is right.rnKarina Rollins is the associate editorialrnpage editor at the New York PostrnEndurancernby Bradley R. StrahanrnHow sudden the brightnessrnsmokes off our bones.rnEchoes blanch these stones.rnEndurance is nothingrnbut a flower that opensrnon a warm winter dayrnbetween one unforgiving frostrnand another, an etchingrnon quicksilver.rnMAY 1999/33rnrnrn