What is a "prude"?

What is a prude?

(Does it mean asexual? Does it mean celibate? Could be, but not necessarily!)

Prude is a reclaimed term used by people resisting sex-necessarism — the idea that sex is necessary, and related sexual demands.

It invites us to celebrate our boundaries and to question our sexual landscape.

Where the reclaimation of "slut" honours saying "yes" to pleasure, "prude" honours saying "no" to sexual expectation.


How is this a different way of thinking?

In the present era, we often think about sexual identity as a checklist of personal attributes, or a rigorous taxonomy of intimate experiences*.

We are not used to thinking about sexual identity as a values alignment or a coalitional goal. "Prude" is not just about our sexual behaviours and feelings (or lack thereof). It is an active declaration of critique, celebration, and solidarity.

*Although many of us, in addition to prude, use other labels that deeply matter to us.


Why we started reclaiming "prude"

In 2018, when PRUDEmag was first conceptualized, Twoey Gray was an asexual aromantic and friend of sluts, looking for similar language to politicize her experiences.

Rea Sweets was discovering that sex-positive feminism didn't represent the way she moved through the world, and was noticing harms in its application.

Rabeea Syed was making art about "otherness" as a Pakistani-Canadian, and was keenly aware of how white supremacy and islamophobia cast hijabis as "prudes".

We noticed we had something in common. What if "prude" was not something we rushed to dispel, but something we embraced? Could we be proud to be prudes?


What sort of people are prudes?

Anyone can be a prude. There are no requirements.

There exists an extraordinary diversity in reasons people reclaim the term.

Since the conversation started, we've heard stories of trauma, of celibacy, of navigating "no" and "maybe" within sex, of sexual disability, of radical platonic priority, of racist sexual expectations, of exclusion from the institutions of sex, of pleasure beyond PIV sex, of "late blooming", of being sidelined by "locker room talk", of being a slut who never has sex, of rejecting or deprioritizing sex, of making your own rules in sex, of friendship and community, and so much more.

Many prudes also identify with the word "slut". We believe strongly in prude-slut solidarity and prude-slut simultaneity.


Let's get messy.

If there is anything prudes have in common, it's that "it's complicated".

But of course, we live in a white supremacist capitalist cisheteropatriarchy. Doesn't that complexify all of our sexualities?


Agree with us? You might be a prude too.

The diversity of reasons people reclaim the word prude doesn't dilute its meaning. It demonstrates how sex-necessarism, and the systems that produce and impact it, harm too many of us. And we can fight back! We can build community! We can have fun with it!