The Personalist Project

Accessed on September 27, 2023 - 12:32:31

What is prudishness?

Katie van Schaijik, Jun 06, 2009

Here is a question I would like to see philosophers take up. “What is prudishness exactly?”

Without attempting to define it, I propose that it has to do with a fear or denial of the full incarnational reality of human sexuality. The prude wants to avoiding dealing with that reality (avoid the hard task of integrating it properly into his personality.) He also wants others to avoid dealing with it. He’d like the whole subject curtailed and contained within safe, “manageable” limits. He gets upset when others won’t toe his line.

It reminds me of that Newman sermon contrasting faith and bigotry:

True philosophy admits of being carried out to any extent; it is its very test, that no knowledge can be submitted to it with which it is not commensurate, and which it cannot annex to its territory. But the theory of the narrow or bigoted has already run out within short limits, and a vast and anxious region lies beyond, unoccupied and in rebellion. Their “bed is shorter than that a man can stretch himself on it; and the covering narrower, than that he can wrap himself in it.” And then what is to be done with these unreclaimed wastes?: the exploring of them must in consequence be forbidden, or even the existence denied.

As the bigot cannot admit the reality that does not fit his own preferred theories and opinions, the prude cannot bear sight or mention or use of sexuality that transcends the narrow range of what he can easily manage with his will.

Am I on the right track?