Prude Protect

This is a component of what I am talking about when I discuss the new prudishness that’s developed over the last few decades. Some of the most prudish are millennials and younger, strangely. Or perhaps not so strangely. Prudishness to be clear doesn’t mean fear of being seen naked or aversion to viewing the nude — no, this is only a minor and not-always-present exterior symptom that discloses something much deeper.

That erotic current speaks to lack of control, that one might do something that’s not fully cogitated upon and reasoned out. People used to welcome those experiences, seek them out, to crave them and put themselves in situations where they were more likely to occur. Now, less than ever, they do not.

Why the shift? I think there are a few reasons. The rise of helicopter parenting is one of them. Prudishness is a self-protection mechanism to avoid disclosure. But overarching all of that is the entire surveillance society we’ve built to contain and constrain non-neoliberal impulses and methods of expression.

Thus, the modern prude, alone and lonely because no erotic current can be created, is merely enforcing in her- or himself the strictures that this always-suspected and often-present surveillance demands of the subject. That is, to be always ready to work, to do nothing that is not rational, to not go off script and do something ill-advised or unpredictable.

The modern prude, then, is the subject that neoliberalism has made.