Opinion

Calling a Woman a ‘Prude’ Is Just as Terrible As Calling Her a ‘Slut’

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At this point in time, most of non-mouth breathers have figured out that calling a woman a “slut” because she happens to enjoy sex a la carte or on the first date (or for any reason) is not kosher. If you use the word as a man, you’re misogynist. If you use it as a woman, you’re anti-feminist. While the shaming of the word “slut” has spread acceptance of women’s sexual liberation, it is a woman’s right to not use that liberation just because it’s there. Which brings me to my point: it’s just as terrible to call a woman a “prude” as it is to call her a slut.

While the word prude is meant simply to convey the idea of a person who’s more discerning about his or her sexual activity, it’s come to be known as a dirty word in the dating realm – and not the good kind of dirty word. It brings along with it a bit of fustiness, like a person is some sort of blushing grandma or Jonas Brother girlfriend holding onto the delusions of a promise ring rather than a modern, sexual, liberated woman.

If you or your partner needs a little more time to warm up to the magic hour, so be it. Whipping out the word “prude” to describe a partner who isn’t willing to strip down on your time table is incredibly, unfairly judgmental.

I recently had a friend express her stress over the when-to-have-sex-with-the-guy-you’re-seeing question. She’d usually opt for the horizontal mambo by date four, but she wasn’t ready to get down just yet. When I asked her why it was such a big deal, she replied that she was worried she’d “look like a prude.” Sure, there’s the traditional first time sex zone, which falls between date three and date five, but ultimately, sex should happen when both parties are ready and really want to get it on, not just because it’s been marked down in Girl Code’s all powerful Book of Rules. When a couple finally puts flesh to flesh could be date one or date ten, but that doesn’t mean the decision needs to come with a label in one direction or another.

Being patient about the grand reveal is not only common sense, it’s a matter of mutual respect. If you and the person you’re dating continue to agree to give up your evenings to eat spicy Thai food together, listen to each other’s work stories, and pretend not to notice when the other person’s happy hour beer gives them a tiny, manageable case of the burps, you clearly like each other to some degree. If you or your partner needs a little more time to warm up to the magic hour, so be it. Whipping out the word “prude” to describe a partner who isn’t willing to strip down on your time table is incredibly, unfairly judgmental.

There are host of reasons one might choose to slow down or speed up the track to sexual satisfaction, and slapping a callous word in place devalues those thoughts and reasons.

It’s when the term comes into the hands of a potential lover as a means of pressure that it becomes the most problematic. Take my friend’s potential “prude”-gate situation with the guy she wasn’t quite ready to sleep with. She wasn’t using the word prude as a non-emotionally-charged descriptor of herself and her resolute decision to make more modest choices, she was using it to assess her understanding of her partner’s disappointment in ending yet another date without sex. She was using it to pass judgment on herself as she believed he would. And when used that way, as it often is, “prude” becomes just as dangerous as “slut.” It creates another demoralizing pejorative that is meant to make a woman change behavior society (or men in that society) have deemed unwanted.

In the wrong hands, either word can become a weapon wrought with unfair expectation, judgment, and negativity. Whether you’re calling someone out for a dearth of dirty business or an excess of sexual activity, using either prude or slut to describe that person simply whittles his or her thoughts, feelings, and decisions down to a single derisive word. There are host of reasons one might choose to slow down or speed up the track to sexual satisfaction, and slapping a callous word in place devalues those thoughts and reasons and places women on a difficult balance beam of trying to find that magic spot where she’s not putting out too much but is putting out just enough. Trust me, that spot is harder to find than the mystical G spot.

Dating is tough enough as it is – do we really need another reason to opt for the safety of Netflix and pizza over the terrifying excitement of coffee with someone new? The answer is more obvious than me renewing my Netflix subscription for yet another month. Let’s just agree to let each other make the choices that are right for us without pressure and judgment and drop “prude” into the slut-bucket, where it belongs.

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