by Mrs. Grundy
The word “prude” comes from the French. Traditionally, it meant something along the lines of “honorable woman.”
Today, dear Wikipedia explains that “prude” refers to a person of any gender who is “concerned with decorum and propriety, significantly in excess of normal prevailing community standards.” Particularly when it comes to sex and nudity, a prude “may be perceived as being more uncomfortable than most.”
This suggests that determining one’s level of prudishness involves a comparison to current community norms. And when it comes to sex and nudity, the community’s norms are hard to pin down — especially in a major metropolitan community like San Diego.
Still, I believe it is possible to delineate some sex-related norms across San Diego — and therefore, to calculate the extent of a given San Diegan’s prudishness.
Take strip clubs, for example. San Diego law limits the location of strip clubs to a tiny portion of the city such as the Midway District and Kearny Mesa. So the community in general does not allow for strip clubs — and therefore a person objecting to strip clubs is not accurately labeled a prude.
In contrast, consider blouses that display the cleavage between a woman’s breasts.
Such garments are common across San Diego in a wide range of environments, from meat-market bars to offices to grocery stores and even churches (the Lord works in mysterious ways). Accordingly, a San Diegan with an active disdain for low-cut blouses is showing strongly prudish proclivities.
Importantly, the distinction between what is and what is not accepted by the community can sometimes be subtle.
For example, bikinis are common on San Diego’s beaches, while “Brazil-cut” bikinis are not. So frowning on bikinis suggests prudishness, but talking trash about that chick over there in the thong wouldn’t be prudish at all.
So how much of a prude are you? For the curious, I have developed a scoring system to calculate one’s prudishness based on the San Diego community’s view of certain sex and nudity-related factors:
if you object to… / you earn… / because…
- strip clubs/ 5 prude points / there are very few around town, by law
- massage parlors / 10 prude points / “rub & tugs” are also limited but more numerous than strip clubs
- low-cut blouses / 75 prude points / they are everywhere these days
- bikinis / 50 prude points / San Diego is a beach town
- Brazil-cut bikinis / 5 prude points / they haven’t migrated north just yet
- couples hugging and kissing in public / 15 prude points / largely unheard of post-high school
- old guys taking photos of women in public / 0 prude points / outside of Mardi Gras, it can and should result in arrest
- the waitress outfits at Hooters / 20 prude points / revealing, but they do wear nylons
- the waitress outfits at Tilted Kilt / 10 prude points / revealing, and no nylons
- teenage girls in provocative clothes / 50 prude points / it’s as American as apple pie
- 12-and-under girls in beauty pageants / 0 prude points / only molesters and twisted parents approve
- idea of porn / 75 prude points / widely available in convenience stores, hotels, and online
- idea of elderly people having sex / 10 prude points / even most “liberals” act like it never happens
- the work of Judd Apatow / 35 prude points / his movies are raunchy but widely accepted and widely appreciated
- the work of Robert Mapplethorpe / 0 prude points / putting stuff in jars of urine ain’t art, it’s just gross
- a man wearing tight pants / 15 prude points / apparently it’s cool among the younger dudes
- a man wearing a tank-top / 25 prude points / gym-rats gotta show some shoulder, I guess
- a man wearing Spandex shorts / 5 prude points / shoulders are one thing, schlongs another
- two women holding hands / 10 prude points / it’s unusual but increasingly common
- two men holding hands / 20 prude points / it’s only common in Hillcrest
- a man dressed like a woman / 5 prude points / it’s rare, notwithstanding Lips in North Park, or John Travolta
Adding up your prude points:
- 0 to 100: Your prudishness is nominal.
- 101 to 200: You are a bit uptight but still a good time after a few drinks.
- 201 or higher: Get thee to a nunnery
Sex in San Diego, a column appearing every Thursday, explores topics related to sex in America’s Finest City. To encourage openness while still respecting privacy, most authors will use pseudonyms.