Can Modesty Be Natural?

December 3, 2008 | NeW

Chapter 7 in Wendy Shalit’s book A Return to Modesty presents many different points of discussion. She starts out with a quote from Rousseau and his idea that modesty IS natural. The question then arises that if it is natural, can modesty be a virtue, then?

Kant says this about it:
“The girl is not so much virtuous as she has the capacity to make men virtuous. Although it may seem paradoxical, women are the greatest means of [producing] chastity in men, because an otherwise fickle person is made through nothing more chaste than through his love of a girl.”

On campus today, I passed a student who was wearing an Ed Hardy sweat shirt that said “DEATH BEFORE DISHONOR.” For a culture that is seemingly demeaning and dishonoring to human dignity in total, it seems that if people took this saying seriously, many, if not all, people would be dead.
However, if, as women, we do not want to call the victim card and do not want to become men, what can we do? Is modesty the answer? How do we propogate modesty to create a cultural shift? If we want to reclaim human dignity, how do we do it? How does feminine mystique and male honor play into this?

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