Thursday, April 03, 2008

Meeting Wendy Shalit!

Last night Claudio and I went to Swarthmore to hear a talk by Wendy Shalit. I read her book A Return To Modesty when I was in college and thought it was brilliant. I had always hoped to meet her this was a really special opportunity! Wendy's new book is at the top of my reading list.

Wendy's talk was great, but I am afraid not well received by the Swarthmore student body which dominated the hall. Claudio and I couldn't help but chuckle and shake our heads at these young "rebels" who I am sure were there in the name of tolerance, but showed very little. Truly ironic.

Anyway, Wendy discussed the trend of sexualizing our children at younger and younger ages and the consequences this has on society and more importantly the consequences it has on the hopes and true desires of young people. Check out her website.


ohdesy said...
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Claudio Salvucci said...

ciao micaya,

Just a bit of background to start with: I am an old Haverford alum who often took the bus to Swat to do research and who almost went there (got waitlisted and didn't feel like waiting!). So far be it from me to judge the school on that one event.

And I am actually pleased to hear that was not the typical level of discourse at Swat...because that kind of behavior was pretty much par for the course when I was at HC in the early 90s. Maybe Wendy just hit a raw nerve with some folks and, like you said, there were other unrelated factors playing into it.

Anyway, it's not so much a problem of Swarthmore as it is a problem of many college kids in general (including myself back in the day, I readily admit). It's hard for me as a 37 year old to sit there and listen to 18-22 year olds pontificate on issues such as child-rearing and marriage and sex when they don't really have any information about same except what they read in some textbook and whatever they pick up on the campus dating scene which, trust me, does not at all adequately prepare you for real life. Those struggling years after college, for myself and for many of my friends, ended up changing us in profound ways, and we often look back with regret on what seemed like harmless and innocent fun during those years.

So it's especially painful to have someone like Wendy--who could have really opened my eyes to a lot of things had I been mature enough to pay attention--trying to help folks be themselves and only be insulted for it. I guess it's nothing new in history that young folks sometimes repudiate hard-won lessons learned by their elders, but it isn't any less frustrating because of it.

Overall, it would have been great to hear more from folks like yourself who seem very mature and polite and could have contributed some good things to the discussion. I definitely feel a little better about the state of Swarthmore reading your comment!

Florentius said...

Based on what I heard about this event, it seems fairly clear to me that if one wishes to be a truly a revolutionary at Swarthmore (or any number of other colleges, for that matter), they should dress modestly, speak modestly, and wear an abstinence ring.

All the status quo has to offer is institutionalized libertinism--the dogma at university for the past 40 years. It's no surprise to me that the forces of "tolerance" would have treated Wendy Shalit so shabbily. She is perceived as a threat because her views call out to idealism that lies buried within every young person.

Just imagine what kind of reception Jason and Crystalina Evert would get if they came to Swarthmore.

Jamie Carin and Claudio Romano said...


After speaking to Wendy after the event apparently it was much better received than we thought. She got a lot of good response via e mail after the event and many people who stayed after to ask her questions during the book signing.

And you have to assume the "modest" attenders, myself included, tend not to be so loud mouthed....Claudio not included of course ;)

Apparently the gay student union decided that she was homophobic and would go and disturb the talk..which they did....but they were not necessarily the majority when it all got washed out in the end.

Walker said...

What this reminds me is that supporting secular or public schools or colleges is an offense to decency and civilization.

Allison said...

Oh, if I had only known I would have met you there! I would have loved to hear her speak, infact, I bet quite a number of our local catholic homeschooling Moms would have...

Saturday, we travel to Mater Ecclesiae.