It is always meant as an insult or at least a light-hearted baiting: “You’re such a prude.” Well, yes I am.
How do we embrace our modest inclinations when all around us it isn’t cool or even normal to be a prude? Besides growing a thicker skin or simply learning to stick to our guns is there anything we can do? I’m an optomist. I say yes.
What is a prude?
Prude: One who is excessively concerned with being or appearing to be proper, modest, or righteous. It also go on to give us some history.
Being called a prude is rarely considered a compliment, but if we dig into the history of the word prude, we find that it has a noble past. The change for the worse took place in French. French prude first had a good sense, “wise woman,” but apparently a woman could be too wise or, in the eyes of some, too observant of decorum and propriety. Thus prude took on the sense in French that was brought into English along with the word, first recorded in 1704. The French word prude was a shortened form of prude femme (earlier in Old French prode femme ), a word modeled on earlier preudomme, “a man of experience and integrity.”
Why is it bad to be a prude?
It seems that if you are called a prude you are accused of being self-righteous or prime and proper. They somehow forgot the modest part. Modesty today is something strange and misunderstood. No one likes one who has an inflated sense of self-worth. We’ve all come across the guy who can’t stop telling you about what big “deals” he’s working on and how great his new Mercedes is. But modesty isn’t an inflated ego, it is a quiet understanding of your own value.
It’s all about education
If you decided that being more covered than the crowd is where you’re headed, you’ll need to prepare yourself to be constantly educating people. This is particularly the case if you are easily identified as in the case of head covering. The idea that is most difficult to get across is that you are not ashamed of your body. Most of the West considers baring skin to be the clearest signal of confidence. It is, therefore, very confusing to hear the opposite. The best way to deal with any questions regarding your modesty, if you feel like you want to be an advocate/activist, is to be blunt, honest and unapologetic.
It is my experience that it is common to be asked why you don’t show your beautiful hair, etc. The best response is that it is your hair, and your business. (put your own spin on it) If you are so inclined you can use my favourite line (which I only use around the girls), “I look really good naked but you don’t see me running around without my clothes on.” You will learn your own mantra. It will evolve.
And what about behaviour?
You may find there are certain things that make you uncomfortable: discussing female specific issues in mixed company, listening to the sexual exploits of your friend while in mixed company and your husband is present (some girls have no tact) and unrelated men feeling like they can invade your personal space. You might not particularly like having one on one time with male friends. For one, they’re boys. They like and do boy things. I don’t. You might not like the idea of bonding with a man who isn’t your husband. There are many things that haven’t been mentioned that can make you feel uncomfortable. As a prude, you confidently declare your boundries. Eventually people get used to the idea and they develop a kind of respect.
What does it mean to be a prude today?
It means you are concerned with appearing proper, modest, and righteous: acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous. It means you adopt the historical meaning of the word prude to be its current definition. You see prude as a synonym for wise.
Or perhaps you’re not a prude but prudent: wise or judicious in practical affairs; sagacious; discreet or circumspect; sober.
You are not self-righteous: confident of one’s own righteousness, esp. when smugly moralistic and intolerant of the opinions and behavior of others.
Many people now know that they are to wait for an invitation to hug me, men need not apply. I do have a male friend or two but I am simply more comfortable meeting them in a public setting and prefer that it not just be the two of us if it can be helped.
I aspire to be prudent. I claim the label of prude for myself with pride. I have chosen my prudish path for myself. I am not ashamed to tell people that I am a prude. I am happy to be different.