According to the Merriam Webster dictionary, “prude” means: “a person who is excessively or priggishly attentive to propriety or decorum; especially : a woman who shows or affects extreme modesty.” It meant people like the old unmarried aunt who was scandalized at the idea of her niece holding hands with a man she wasn’t betrothed to.
That’s what it used to mean, anyway.
Now it means something rather different.
It basically means anyone who has anything approaching morals when it comes to matters of sexuality. Even Urban dictionary admits it: “A girl with high moral standards and has respect for her body.”
Here are some examples of things that are supposedly “prudish”:
- Thinking that full-frontal nudity is not appropriate for a made-for-t.v.-movie
- Being upset with your friend for using your computer to look at porn, subjecting you to pornadoes and computer viruses
- Not wanting to listen to your coworker brag about her affairs, the latest one with a married man
- Thinking that topless Halloween costumes are inappropriate.
Yes, I really did see the word “prude” used in all of those contexts.
The very idea of someone having morals seems to stir absolute outrage in the hearts of the immoral. Suggest something as radical as “abstinence” in a sex ed class, and you will be treated with nothing but scorn, by teacher and classmates alike. (I know that one from personal experience.)
People who seek to be morally clean are treated like they’re some sort of aliens, or science experiments gone horribly, horribly, wrong. Like sexual morality is anything but a reasonable stance.
Why should we teach teenagers to wait for marriage, or, at least, until something resembling a committed relationship and emotional maturity? Oh, teenagers are just going to experiment anyway, so let’s teach them to be safe.
The sex drive is a very powerful instinct. It is unreasoning passion.
We have other instincts and passions, as well, all of which we expect children to learn to control. We expect them to still be in control of themselves when they are very hungry, tired, or frustrated. We expect them to go find an adult when someone is bullying them, rather than defending themselves.
Why then, do we just throw our hands up in the air when it comes to teenagers and sex?
Why do we treat abstinence like some kind of disease, when in fact it prevents the spread of disease?
Why, if we are so very “tolerant,” do we treat the morally clean as outcasts?
I used to really enjoy watching the show Glee. You know, the obnoxious one about the high school show choir. I kept watching even as it became more and more offensive towards Christian conservatives. I stopped watching, however, during the episode with Gwyneth Paltrow as the substitute teacher, who actually encouraged high school students to experiment sexually. She even openly mocked the students who said they were abstaining from sex, saying that women who wait for marriage are “frigid.” I turned off the show then and there, and have not turned it on since.
Sexual purity is being treated with contempt. And we are just letting it happen. We who live by a higher moral standard are being told that tolerance is the new standard. We can choose whatever we want, but can’t say anything bad about the promiscuous, even while they insult us and destroy the integrity of our youth.
We need to do more than live by a higher standard. I’m not saying we need to preach repentance on the street corners or from the rooftops, but we need to stand firm in our convictions, and never seem to tolerate or condone sexual immorality.
Above all, we need to reach out to young people, who have been taught that abstinence is unnatural, and teach them the truth: that abstinence, until you find the right person, is so much better.
Confessions of a “Prude” on relevantmagazine.com
Of Prudes and Libertines on thecatholicthing.org