Review of "Girls Gone Mild"

By Christine Cupaiuolo — August 14, 2007

In a Washington Post review of Wendy Shalit’s new book, “Girls Gone Mild: Young Women Reclaim Self-Respect and Find It’s Not Bad to Be Good,” Jennifer Howard writes that Shalit engages in “some very dubious sociology.” Here’s my favorite part:

Even more detached from reality is Shalit’s takedown of older feminists. These are the good ladies, second- and third-wavers, who run organizations such as NOW and who have fought for years to give women the same chances as men — not, as Shalit would have it, just the chance to sleep around like men. She attacks them for “the concessions they made to pornography” and for being “so committed to the idea of casual sex as liberation” that they’re baffled by younger, more restrained women.

“As the third-wavers continue to advocate a public, crude sexuality and younger girls feel oppressed by how public sexuality is, the two sets of women are on course for an inevitable collision,” Shalit writes. This is bone-headed conservatism at its most offensive. Last time I checked my Feminist Manual, letting it all hang out in public didn’t appear on the must-do list. Nor did making concessions to pornographers, but maybe I missed that section. Shalit would have us believe that feminism is not a dirty word in her vocabulary. Yet she seems surprised when a Wesleyan undergraduate “rejects sexual exhibitionism even though she identifies as a feminist.”

Imagine that! A feminist who doesn’t take her clothes off. What is this world coming to?

For more on Shalit’s book and the younger women she quotes, see Jessica Valenti’s post from July.

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