At 27, I stoically stand on the outskirts of my twentysomething peers: I still get uncomfortable butterflies in my stomach watching sex scenes in movies (in fact, I usually fast forward through them), I’ve never been to a sex shop and I still get queasy when I think back to those days in my fifth-grade health class when the teacher whipped out her handy diagram and had us scared little girls, some of whom hadn’t even hit puberty yet let alone were escorted by their mother to buy their first training bra, read aloud in our accompanying textbooks.
This is the sort of admission that elicits firm convictions from both sides of the emotional fence. Some react with awe, others with confusion and still others with a look of pity. I imagine the gaggle of whispers that would follow, something along the lines of “Oh, so you mean you’re a pruuuuude?” The word prude is uttered at a noticeably lower decibel so as to conceal my scary secret from the rest of the curious world.
MORE JUICE AFTER THE JUMP…
Lately, though, my apparent affinity for prudeness has made me feel a little left of center. I liken it to wearing the modern-day version of the Scarlett Letter around my neck. Whether I’m having dinner in a bustling restaurant or sitting in a quiet, dark movie theater, the conversations, between males and females alike, circle back to sex and love like a revolving door: who’s having it, who’s (frustratingly) not having it, how they’re having it, where they’re having it, where they wish they could be having it and who they fantasize about in the wee hours of the night. No topic is too blush-inducing, at least to most people.
Case in point: During a particularly slow night at my job as a copy editor in college a few years ago, one of my hormonally charged colleagues somehow got on the topic of how she stole a some ‘items’ at her recent gynecology appointment. This didn’t seem to faze anyone else within earshot as they all erupted into laughter and began telling their own “This one time…” tales. Me, I just tried to blend my fake laughter seemingly into their genuine chuckles. I pretend I’ve done this a thousand times, so they, my experienced peers, won’t know I’m pretty, well, inexperienced.
And that’s what I’ve been doing ever since. A lot of pretending. Not because I’m ashamed of my (If I was, I wouldn’t be writing about it), but because it’s sometimes the one people don’t really want to hear about. After all, it’s not exactly the go-to conversation topic; what would a Sex and the City look like with all prudes?
For more proof of my prudeness, other things that top the No-No List include, but are not limited to the public discussion of: menstrual woes, other bodily functions and body parts, fantasies and of course fetishes.
In my words, “There are just some things you don’t talk about.”
The point: Not liking, thinking, feeling, wanting sex all the time – or merely blushing at the mention of anything sexual – is considered unbalanced. Not having sex is one thing, but not wanting to have lots of it is virtually abnormal.
Maybe I should have been born in the 1950s when women spent their days cooking, cleaning, sewing and did most of their gossiping (minus any talk of private matters) over the clothes line or over a plate of cookies. Yet any nostalgia for the ‘old days’ is met with pure rage from my inner feminist. She doesn’t want to sit idly by. She doesn’t want to censor herself. She wants to whip off that white bra and burn it at the stake.
I’ve heard people say that prudes are repressed, have some Freudian complex or have daddy issues (no on all three counts for me). I’ve also heard more people say, with the utmost conviction, that inside every prude’s heart beats a secret bad girl: someone who wants to flirt innocently with the Starbuck’s guy or that out-of-town cutie, someone who isn’t afraid to say what’s on her mind, someone who is just bad – and wild – enough but still manages to leave an air of mystery in her absence.
Because this girl, at the end of the day, isn’t worried about tomorrow, of waking up in Vegas with a killer headache and an equally killer diamond on her ring finger, of wondering and regretting why exactly she picked last night to disclose her deepest, darkest feelings to her best guy friend, of wishing she was anywhere but this candlelit dinner.
She may be wild and crazy, but she also manages to keep her self-esteem, self-confidence and self-respect neatly intact. She’s the perfect combination of proper elegance and devil may care adventurous spirit.
And so I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. Are all prudes merely bad girls waiting to come out of the metaphorical closet?
What does my inner bad girl look like? I’m not altogether sure yet, but I do have one thing going for me: a secret drawer. It’s blue, rather discrete and primed and pumped to house the items I’d never show the world. Right now it’s home to mostly candy and the assorted stray paperclip, but I have high hopes for its future. And so does my burgeoning bad girl.