Twenty-four-year-old Amanda just moved from Pittsburgh to Chicago, to pursue graduate studies in Medieval literature. Her hobbies include dancing, artwork, and volunteering at pet stores (she loves cats). I first became aware of Amanda when she sent me this nice e-mail:

Wendy,

I have wanted for a long time to write to you and express my deepest gratitude for your book, A Return to Modesty. For most of my life I have been ridiculed and ostracized by my peers because of my views on love and relationships. Until I read your book about a year ago, I actually believed they were right and there was something seriously wrong with me. But, when I heard someone else actually expressing similar ideas to mine it made me realize that it was the rest of the world, not me that had a problem. That revelation is something I can never thank you enough for.

Anyway, I hope you keep up the good work. I know you probably have lots of people give you a hard time about your views but you should know that there are people who really believe in you and whose lives you have touched deeply, I, being just one of them.

Thank you again for everything.
Amanda

I was very moved by this note, and wrote back right away to find out more about Amanda. I learned that she grew up in Michigan and recently received her BA in English from Carnegie Mellon. She likes to use her analytical skills to expose, in her words, "the techniques magazines employ to subtly undercut the self-esteem of women who reject Cosmo's sexual attitudes." She describes herself as "committed to protecting a woman's right to want true love and to say no to casual sex." Like many young women, Amanda often puzzles over how to respond to questionnaires in women's magazines. A favorite hobby of hers is deconstructing the subtext behind these questionnaires. She gave this example:

"On a coed ski trip, everyone's hopping into the Jacuzzi ... including a chick with a jaw-dropping Halle Berry bod. You: a.) Feel a little daunted but wear a suit you know you look okay in; b.) Proudly sport a string bikini, or: c.) Hang by the hot tub fully clothed."

Amanda responds:

I don't really know about this question because my response depends on a number of factors which are not discussed. I generally try to avoid appearing in a bathing suit in front of strange guys. This is not because I am afraid they will think I'm ugly. Yes, it would hurt me if they did. But it would hurt just as much if they thought I was hot because then I would feel slutty and degraded by being made into an impersonal sex object and, worse, I would know it was my fault because I know guys tend to check out women in bathing suits so I should be smart and protect myself by not wearing one. For this reason I would refuse to wear a bathing suit in front of strange guys, even if I was the only girl there and, hence, had no risk of them comparing me unfavorably with someone else. On the other hand, if I was with a group of friends or just women, I would wear whatever I wanted to wear regardless of what any of the other people there looked like.

Amanda doesn't just think through these issues; she actually takes a stand, and sometimes at great cost to her personally. As she shared,

Last spring I took a fiction writing class in college in which I wrote stories that portrayed romance and faithfulness as a positive thing. This evoked brutal hostility from the other students who said my work was sentimental and unrealistic and that my character's feelings qualified them as insane. While hurtful, I could deal with such criticism from my peers but thought it was completely inappropriate when the instructor decided to join them. At one point he told me to "find something to write about besides policing men's sexual desires," and he was constantly insisting that I "revise" my stories in ways that would alter their message. When I refused to alter that aspect of my work, since I felt no teacher has a right to dictate a student's moral beliefs, he docked my grade in response. It continues to baffle me as to why our beliefs invoke such extreme hatred.

Although Amanda has "had to pay dearly for [her] willingness to speak up on this issue," she has learned "not to fear exposure since, if no one speaks up, we would all go on believing we were alone." She has also noticed that, "since so many people are afraid to admit they feel the way we do, it is very easy to feel alone."

For extreme bravery in the frontlines of the culture war, no one deserves our "Rebel of the Month" Award like Amanda Hamlin.

Ladies, if you'd like to get in touch with our Rebel of the Month, you can send us a message and we will pass it on to her. Gentlemen: we're terribly sorry, but Amanda has a serious boyfriend.

If you would like to nominate a Rebel—including yourself—please send a short personal profile and what you are rebelling against to: rebelofthemonth@modestyzone.net. There is no age limit, but high school and college students will be given priority over grandmas, since grandmas, after all, are supposed to be good.




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