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Gerardo Castillo Ceballos, School of Education and Psychology

The amazing resilience of modesty

Fri, 09 Dec 2016 16:17:00 +0000 Published in El Confidencial Digital.

Modesty has had periods of great social prestige, along with others in which attempts have been made to undermine it. The latter intensified with the postmodern thinking of the nineteenth century, which led to a "pudoricide" that, according to Miguel Dalmau, may soon lead us to "The decline of modesty".

The current social installation of impudence has been made possible not only by the eviction of modesty, but also by ideological campaigns that have presented impudence as an emerging value. Those who live in an impudent way (without modesty) are defined as rebellious, sincere and liberated; on the other hand, those who live with modesty are labeled as strange and pusillanimous. The modesty would be something merely conventional that represses sexuality and arouses false guilt, ignoring that in the topic of sex there is never a reason to feel shame.

Freud's unproven theories consider modesty as a repression that prevents us from realizing our sexual impulses. They ignore the fact that modesty is inherent to the human person, who defines himself as "his own being". Modesty is the deepest core of the personality. Its meaning arises from its connection with the feeling of dignity of the person.

Wendy Shalic, author of the bestseller "Return to Modesty", explains that the supposed repressive nature of modesty is dismantled with just one argument: "Modesty protects sexuality and authentic intimacy, as it allows you to say 'no' to the wrong people, and then say 'yes' to the right person".

 Modesty makes it possible to take time for a possible inner connection between a man and a woman, who initially were only attracted to each other for external reasons.

To the current status of generalized impudence has contributed much to the widespread mentality that modesty is something already overcome. However, this does not explain why intimate poetry has been maintained without interruption up to the present day. I know that some poems by Juan Ramón Jiménez scandalize the progressives of impudence. For example, the one he entitled "Adolescencia" (Adolescence):

"On the balcony, an instant/we were both alone./Since the sweet morning/of that day, we were sweethearts./...I told her I was going to kiss her;/she lowered, serene, her eyes/and offered me her cheeks,/like one who loses a treasure/...She did not dare to look at me;/I told her we were sweethearts,/and tears rolled down/of her melancholy eyes."

The theory that modesty is simply something conventional does not hold true with young children, since they still find it uncomfortable when they are naked, so they hide so as not to be seen. The way modesty is experienced may be conventional, but not the fact of experiencing this feeling.

The modesty is the virtue that financial aid us to preserve our privacy, keeping it covered from strangers. The lack of modesty would mean that the person does not keep possession of his own intimacy, which, in turn, prevents him from giving it to the right person.

In this status man has a banal existence, in which appearance prevails over being. For J. J. López-Ibor, it is the most impersonal way of living, since in it the mask hides the person. It is a peripheral life, without any deep resonance.

In the past, society perceived that there was a limit when it came to new customs. Now, however, that limit is being erased, because fashion imposes impudence. For example, almost no one is ashamed to wear a large part of the body uncovered. It is ignored that nudity is not natural; only animals do without clothing, while even the most primitive men have covered themselves in some way. Modesty is a feeling of modesty and shame, especially in the sexual sphere.

Currently there is a subject of supposed sexual Education that explains to children that in the topic of sex there is nothing to be ashamed of. That is why they are taught not to blush in front of scenes more typical of a brothel than of a school.

That's not Dr. Wendy Shalit's criteria: "Blushing is a wonderful reaction that signals that something very strange or very relevant is happening, that some boundary is about to be crossed by oneself or others. Without the ability to feel shame, girls are weaker: more vulnerable to unwanted pregnancy, disease, and the possibility of having their hearts broken."

Once the disposition to feel shame is eliminated, romantic love is not possible and submission; only "flirting" is possible. Lately, "flirting" is being presented to adolescents as a necessary "rite of passage" to maturity. It is clear that its inspirers have also managed to be shameless. One hope remains: the proven resilience of modesty.