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The Fallout

November 4, 2008 | NeW

With a week sabbatical, we are on Chapter 3 of Wendy Shalit’s A Return to Modesty: Discovering the Lost Virtue.

Last week, NeW at Arizona State University took part in a panel discussing Arizona Proposition 102 – a state Constitutional amendment that would protect marriage as the union of 1 man and 1 woman. While discussing the implications of marriage socially and historically, the point was brought up that among other things, heterosexual marriage protects women from the unattached, selfish, aggressive male – one of society’s most dangerous threats.

This statement ties right into Shalit’s topic of Chapter 3. She opens the chapter with:

“It is no accident that harassment, stalking, and rape all increased when we decided to let everything hang out. A society that has declared war on embarrassment is one that is hostile to women.”

Later in reference to Democracy in America, Shalit says:

“Tocqueville said that a woman in America could walk anywhere alone without fear, so great was men’s respect for their modesty. Women then didn’t need their boyfriends to protect them, nor have to ‘prove themselves worthy of respect,’ because men respected all women as ladies, not only as girlfriends.”

Now in the 21st century . . . to be thought of as a “lady,” is sexist, isn’t it? That connotes that women are less than men. Or does it? Is modesty a vice or a virtue? Does it help or harm women in society? Are unattached, selfish, aggressive males really that threatening? Can marriage protect women? Or is marriage an institution that strips women of their identity?

In our day and age, who socially holds the most power, men or women? What do you think?

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