I am deeply ashamed to admit this, but I am a prude. I am prudish. At least, that’ s the word “sex-positive feminists” have used to describe people like me.
I am so prudish that I don’t support the “Free the Nipple” campaign. I breastfed my daughter for three and a half years in plenty of public places (shopping malls, parks, coffee shops, public transportation), but when I was done feeding her, I tucked my breasts back into my shirt. If I were truly an empowered woman I would have waved my breasts around in defiance, perhaps even squirted breast milk at a scowling onlooker. But as I’ve already admitted, I am crippled by prudery. I have never even been tempted to flash my bare breasts at a Muslim man, a priest, a nun, or a woman wearing hijab. Not once.
I’m so prudish that I don’t even enjoy explicit sex scenes in movies. It’s sick, I know, but I’m embarrassed for the actors. I can’t help worrying about how awkward it must feel to do those scenes. And I worry about how the actors’ families must feel, seeing them naked and fake-humping a stranger. Porn is even worse, and it just makes me sad. I don’t watch it. Luckily, we prudes have active imaginations, and can create vivid erotica in our minds. Of course, if too many people did that, the porn industry would lose billions of dollars. Lucky us prudes are few and far between. But how would all these now-porn consumers have masturbated or been “sexual” before porn? To hear them talk, you’d think it was impossible.
I must also admit that don’t I like kink. I’m sorry, but I don’t. It just seems like too much work, and I am a very lazy person. Also, who has the money to buy all that “gear?” Cock rings, butt plugs, sex swings, ball stretchers, paddlers, slappers, crops, floggers, whips, canes, strap-ons, mouth gags, masks, harnesses, and all kinds of stuff that sounds super-macho and grossly unromantic. Make Love Not War, people! They might as well have a “kink gear” section at the Army Navy Surplus Store. I know I’m old-fashioned, but I don’t want to get dressed up for a romantic evening and look like I’m dressed up for Halloween. I also don’t want my bedroom looking like a cell in an underground prison.
Okay. Now for a true confession: I love vibrators. Vibrators are irrefutable proof to me that God exists and that She is a woman. I did attempt to wear a strap-on once, during a lesbian affair. My former lover and I wanted to spice up our sex life, and in that spirit I agreed to wear a strap-on. Tragically, I couldn’t steer the damn thing, and kept jabbing her in the thigh (I can’t parallel park, either). It kept falling off until I finally gave up and flung it across the room in frustration. She said she’d try wearing it, and I told her not to bother. I found it about as erotic as a can opener. So we wound up eating ice cream out of the carton and watching Sex & The City (which was much more satisfying for both of us).
So yes, I’m a terrible prude. I don’t enjoy flashing my breasts in public, I don’t like porn, and I’m a failure at kink. I’ve also never cheated on anyone, because I think cheating on people is mean.
But worst of all, I don’t believe that “sex work” is work, but rather that it’s dangerous to claim it ever could be. The commodification of sex, pregnancy, and childbirth puts women and girls at grave risk — especially poor women and girls. Poor women’s bodies are rented out as incubators for privileged people’s offspring, just as poor women’s bodies are rented out as receptacles for privileged men’s sperm. The commodification of the female body is based on the idea that a woman can be rented out like a car. But where does a woman retreat to when her body becomes an object to be rented? Where does she go? She cannot simply leave her body at “work.”
Renting out our bodies is dehumanizing. There. I said it. I’m backwards, regressive, overly-sensitive, and I cannot separate flesh from feelings. I’m a prude. And I demand a PrudeWalk.
SlutWalks claim to protest rape culture by encouraging young women to objectify themselves. But, as a prude I don’t feel comfortable objectifying myself. It doesn’t empower me or make me feel liberated. So why can’t I protest rape culture by having a PrudeWalk? We prudes deserve a walk, too.
Will you join me? A PrudeWalk would be so much fun! We’ll wear sweatshirts, sweatpants, mom jeans, and comfortable shoes. We’ll carry signs proclaiming, “If You Don’t Like Vanilla, You’re not my Fella!” “Tender Lips Not Painful Whips” “Sexy isn’t Sexual” “Love Is Hot, Porn Is Not” “Want a Three-way? Hit the Freeway!” “Labia’s are Luscious!” “Full Bushes Forever!” And most important of all: “My Face Is Not A Cum Dumpster!”
I am reclaiming the word “prude” and declaring myself both prudish and proud. Let’s put the love back in lovemaking, folks. Let’s have a Prude Pride Day, open to all genders and sexual orientations. The only qualification is a willingness to let your inner prude out of the closet, and let your faithful flag fly!
Of course, it won’t be as popular as SlutWalk. But pushing back against porn culture and misogyny never is.
Penny White is a radical feminist freelance writer living in San Francisco. She has a master’s degree in psychology with an emphasis on childhood sexual trauma, and has worked for over 10 years as a case manager/peer counselor for mentally ill people living in poverty. Penny is currently a volunteer at The Gubbio Project in San Francisco, which serves people of all ages and abilities who have no homes. Follow her @