Liberated Facilities

Behavior that was shockingly racy then has become the pop culture of today. Teenagers are taught its philosophy with an evangelistic zeal. The radicals who set out long ago to "liberate" women and shape the values of their children have been amazingly successful. Most members of the younger generation have no other frame of reference. It is all they have known. I'm reminded of what Adolf Hitler said on November 6, 1933: "Your child belongs to us already . . . what are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing but this new community."5 Nearly four years later he added, "This new Reich will give its youth to no one."6 Alas, the new revolutionaries now have our kids.

What does this mean for the mental and physical health of today's children and young people? The answers are striking and can be found in the writings of two brilliant young authors, Wendy Shalit and Carol Platt Liebau. Their books, written separately, are must-reads for every parent who wants to understand the culture and protect his or her girls from those who would subvert their moral character. Shalit wrote A Return to Modesty and Girls Gone Mild. Liebau is the author of Prude. These three books expose the toxic nature of the hookup (or raunch) culture and warn of its devastating impact on both boys and girls. I recommend them highly.

Wendy Shalit's concern about this issue had an interesting origin, which is relevant to our discussion. She was a sophomore at Williams College when she published her first article in Commentary magazine. It was a devastatingly effective piece entitled "A Ladies' Room of One's Own." It expressed her irritation about coed bathrooms in college dormitories, including those at Williams. She described the embarrassment of showering and using the toilet in front of male students in a very small and unlocked bathroom. She and the other students had been told that truly liberated women were "comfortable with their bodies" and therefore should not be embarrassed by nudity in front of boys.

Wendy wrote, "Don't get me wrong. I was quite comfortable with my body—had been, all along. It was the intricacies of the opposite sex's body which I wasn't necessarily so eager to study so early in the morning."

Resident advisers at Williams didn't share Wendy's prudish notions. They had said at freshman orientation the previous year that anyone who had a problem with coed bathrooms might want to make an appointment to see a counselor at the campus "Psych Services." In other words, modesty is evidence of mental illness.

To avoid dealing with men in her bathroom, which Wendy called "this lovely garden of togetherness," she carried her toothbrush, toothpaste, and a washcloth to a nearby administration building for the rest of the year. There the bathrooms were still designated "in dear sweet black lettering, with what to me seemed the most reassuring words in the English language: 'Women' and 'Men.'"

The following year, Wendy chose a housing arrangement that was made up of all-girl suites. There she could bathe in privacy. But things didn't turn out quite like she anticipated.

She continued:

One day, early in the fall, once again I stepped out of the shower to find a strange man in the bathroom with me—or, rather, the rear of him.

"What are you doing here?" I asked. "Ugh . . . just trying to take a leak." "Well, I'm sorry if there's been some misunderstanding," said I, clutching my white towel in what I flattered myself was a most emphatic manner, "but this is not a coed bathroom." For the first time the young man glanced backward to peer at me. He must have been amused at the sight of this small, soaking-wet frame trying to appear intimidating, because he still refused to leave, laughing and protesting weakly instead. The male student said, "Well . . . there was no sign." "But see . . . that's what I am here for," I announced. "I am the sign. THIS IS NOT A COED BATHROOM! Do you think you can read the sign now?"

"OK, OK," he mollified, quickly zipping up and scuttling out the door. As he darted down the hall I could hear him muttering, "But you don't have to raise your voice. Gosh— she sounds like my mother."

That led Wendy to put a sign on the door that read, "This is not a coed bathroom—ladies only, please. Thank you for your cooperation, gentlemen." The next day a knock came on her door, and she was asked to join her suite mates for a meeting. Four girls were sitting cross-legged on the floor and wearing very grave expressions. One of them spoke for the others:

"Wendy, we have been talking and we were thinking, well . . . that sign of yours is really very exclusionary of one gender."7

Exclusionary of one gender? Give me a break! Bathrooms all over the world are marked Men and Women in native languages. Now some university men are insulted if they are not admitted into this highly personal and intimate women's sanctuary.

Shalit's article created a sensation, both at Williams and elsewhere. Reader's Digest reprinted it the next year, which established Wendy's career as a social commentator. She then elaborated on society's libertine sexual attitudes in each of her two books and warned of the consequences of unrestrained lust. Feminists hated the books, of course, and tried to intimidate Wendy. But her cogent arguments were not easily dismissed. Even the students at Williams later applauded her courageous stance.

The theme of Shalit's books is that modesty, which has represented the essence of womanhood for millennia, has undergone a radical transformation. Virginity is now seen as evidence of weakness and timidity. A modern woman should be brash, profane, aggressive, loud, angry, tough, and independent—anything but feminine and demure. Above all, she must be sexually liberated, which holds the key to her sense of empowerment. Engaging in casual hookups and immodest behavior, and even nudity in coed bathrooms, is thought to build confidence and display strength. This convoluted view of feminine nature turns reality on its head. Nevertheless, the majority of today's teens and young adults, especially those attending secular universities, have been indoctrinated with moral relativism from which libertine behavior emanates. Alas, the River has swept them downstream.

5.Michael Burleigh, The Third Reich: A New History (New York: Hill & Wang, 2001), 235.

6.William Lawrence Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 249.

7.Wendy Shalit, "A Ladies' Room of One's Own," Commentary (August 1995).

Book: Bringing Up Girls

By Dr. James Dobson

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