It's quite possible to reject social conservatism without falling into some exaggerated libertinism. [Wendy] Shalit's [book] title [A Return to Modesty] advocates going back to old-fashioned values, so it's no wonder most feminists balk. They rightly want new ways to think about what is good for women, not a re-insertion into the old set-up.
Yes, but it's also quite possible to reject sexual self-objectification as a shallow parody of "power" and "liberation" -- as so not really a new way to think about what's good for women -- without being a prude. I haven't read Female Chauvinist Pigs (I don't have the impression that Ann has either), and I don't know if Ariel Levy is a prude, or even as much of a retro traditionalist as Wendy Shalit is (no, according to Amazon reviewers), but I do know that being sexual is different from being sexy.
Being sexy is zipping yourself inside the skin-tight, slinky, skinny image that is currently marketed to men as the sexual ideal. That can certainly be fun, but to me it has more of an anxious sort of safety to it -- whew, I've conformed, I can "pass," I'll get looked at, I won't be rejected -- than a powerful sexuality. The more you can squeeze inside those parameters and make yourself a successful variation on that image, the less the attention you get is really for you. That's liberation?
I think that being attractive is naturally and even commendably important to women, and certainly no one is immune to the fashions of their times. But I would hope eventually that women could become more confident and less desperate, could take or leave male approval a little bit more (which would be a much better reason for saying "no" than a calculated "The Rules" strategy to snag him), and would generate our attractiveness from the inside out -- from a powerful sense of individual style, taste, and desire -- instead of from the outside in.
Many women do reach this sort of power and comfort, of course -- with age. The irony is that as our raw biological marketability wanes, our confidence waxes -- or quits waxing, as the case may be!