The most common complaint I hear from women my age is that there is no longer any "dating scene". Young people go out in packs, they drink, they "hook up," and the next day life returns to normal. I suppose you could find much depression in this behavior---for starters, that there is not even a pretense of anticipation of a love that will last forever in the cold expression, "to hook up"--- but there is also a lot about this behavior that should give us hope, and that is the fact that all of them have to drink to do it. They aren't drinking wine to begin a delightful conversation. They are drinking beer and hard liquor to get drunk---precisely to cut out delightful conversation and get "right to the point," as it were. That is the advertised purpose of most college parties. And this kind of drinking is really quite a stark admission: that, in fact, we realize we are not just like the lower animals, that our romantic longings and hopes should inform our most intimate actions, and that if the prevailing wisdom decrees "hook ups" don't matter, that sex is "no big deal," then we must numb ourselves in order to go through with it. Thus, we pay tribute to the importance of modesty by the very lengths to which we must go to stifle it. We are all modest already, deep down---because we are human---we just need to stop drinking so much, get off our Prozac, and come out of the closet about it. Like Modesty Anonymous.
I am writing because I see so much unhappiness around me, so many women settling for less, because I don't want to settle for less and because I don't think you should have to, either. I don't want to have sex because "I guess" I want it. I want to wait for something more exciting than that, and modesty helps me understand why.
by Wendy Shalit
(Thanks to Anne for letting me post this essay. I thought it was really good.)