All Women Are Prudes

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Some young women actually anticipate the wedding night ordeal with curiosity and pleasure! Beware such an attitude! A selfish and sensual husband can easily take advantage of such a bride. One cardinal rule of marriage should never be forgotten: GIVE LITTLE, GIVE SELDOM, AND ABOVE ALL, GIVE GRUDGINGLY.
—From this wedding night guide; it's a joke, although even Snopes doesn't know where it originated.

In certain parts of Fictionland, sex is something women just give to men to shut them up for a while. But women don't enjoy sex, and they definitely don't desire it. They just Lie Back and Think of England. The only reason a fictional woman should ever want sex is if she wants to get pregnant. And many times, it is clearly implied that a desirable woman shouldn't want sex in any way, shape or form if she wants to be respected.

The corollary to this Trope is that men are utterly lecherous: see I'm a Man, I Can't Help It, A Man Is Not a Virgin, Handsome Lech, and the Spear Counterpart, All Men Are Perverts. Compare/contrast with My Girl Is a Slut, Be a Whore to Get Your Man, and Good Bad Girl, all of which address women's sexuality on the opposite of the spectrum.

Many modern folk believe this to be Older Than Dirt. However, it's actually a Cyclic Trope. The humor in Lysistrata in its own time, for example, came from the trope that All Women Are Lustful and therefore would be incapable of withholding sex from men. The common belief that a woman needs to have an orgasm to get pregnant (putting "pleasing your wife" high on the list of a man's priorities) also precedes this trope. Both this trope and its inversion, All Women Are Lustful, can be invoked to support claims for Mars and Venus Gender Contrast. This is also part of the reasoning behind A Man Is Always Eager.

Compare Sour Prudes. Contrast Coy Girlish Flirt Pose and All Women Are Lustful, the other side of the cycle that is becoming more prominent in fiction.

No real life examples, please; This is a trope about how characters are depicted in media.

Examples of All Women Are Prudes include:

Anime and Manga


  • The subject of a joke in the movie Annie Hall, where Woody Allen and Diane Keaton are both shown talking to their therapists. Woody complains that they almost never have sex: "Only three or four times a week." Annie complains that they constantly have sex, "Three or four times a week."
  • Sets off the plot of the film Extract, though the marriage depicted there has more problems than incompatible sex drives.
  • Played With in, of all things, Mystery Science Theater 3000 Z-list fodder Hobgoblins with the hero's girlfriend, seemingly a living example of this trope until the wish-granting beasties of the title reveal that his girl is an aspiring slut..

Crow: "So, Mike, I learned from today's movie that Daphne was a slut, and Amy wasn't fun until she became a slut."
Mike: "Well, that's the fun message of today's movie."

  • The 1961 film Splendor in the Grass (set in 1928), is a Deconstruction of this trope. The main character's mother explains to teenager Deanie that no nice girl has sexual desires, and she never enjoyed sex with her husband: "I just gave in because a wife has to. A woman doesn't enjoy those things the way a man does. She just lets her husband come near her in order to have children." The rest of the movie deals with sexual repression, and ends on quite a Downer Ending.


  • Inverted in Kazohinia, where the Main Character approaches a Hin woman expecting this and trying to act all sensitive. The woman's reaction? Asking him is he's "interested in providing her with sexual service". She even remarks that woman from the main character's homeland must be very unfortunate if all they get is 'romance' when they ask a man to satisfy them. The Hero even takes note of how indecent Hin women can sometimes act.
  • In The Guardians, this is the opinion of 18th century Henry Grey, Alice's first husband. When Alice expressed disatisfaction with their love life, he scolded her and blamed her parents for letting her learn ideas beneath her station.
  • Becka Paulson, a character in Stephen King's The Tommyknockers is actually relieved when her husband starts an affair and doesn't have sex with her anymore. To her, sex was "just as her mother had told her it would be, nasty, brutish, sometimes painful, always humiliating".
  • Played with in How Few Remain, the first book in the Timeline-191 series by Harry Turtledove. During the much maligned Samuel Clemens sex scene, he reflects to himself that his wife seems to genuinely enjoy sex, despite everything he's been told to the contrary.
  • This trope is enforced by the Party in Nineteen Eighty-Four. Julia defies it by having an affair with Winston.
    • Then again, everyone, not just women, are forced to be asexual.
    • Actually, Goldstein's book specifies that the Party ideal is that sex should only be carried out for purposes of procreation, and that in the course of the act there should be no pleasure on the part of the woman. It doesn't specify whether men are allowed to enjoy it or not, though presumably the Party would prefer if they didn't.
  • Subverted in Men At Arms and other books following the Watch; Angua likes sex, engages in sex early in a relationship or sometimes in outright casual sex (being a werewolf, relationships rarely last more than a month for her), and at the same time doesn't use sex to string men along or manipulate them. The women of the Disc in general are hardly prudish; Nanny Ogg is a prominent example.

Live-Action TV

  • Dr. Kelso from Scrubs uses everyone's belief in this trope as part of a ruse involving the one night of the year his wife lets him sleep with her. His wife has nothing to do with it.
    • Likewise, Carla points out that one of the advantages of getting married is that she won't have to have sex anymore unless she wants to. The implication being, of course, that women use sex to get a man to marry her and buy her things.
      • Carla will also deny Turk sex if Elliot asks her to. She doesn't even need a reason, just "No sex for Turk tonight!"
    • Subverted in one episode with Jordan's visiting friend, who gets shaky if she doesn't have sex every few days. And subverted hard with Jordan herself.
  • Frequently used on the American version of Men Behaving Badly to drive various plotlines.
  • Kind of Lampshaded in Frasier's famous line, "How can men possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex is what we want!" ...Apparently implying that it isn't what women want.
  • Averted in the BBC show Chef where Janice is very interested in sex and the fact that Gareth is usually too tired is a sore point in their marriage.
  • Averted in, of all shows, Married... with Children: Peg wants to have sex a whole lot more than Al does, while Straw Feminist Marcy is shown to have a definite and ongoing interest in it as well.
    • Subverted in the episode "Raingirl", where Peggy gives this speech to Kelly:

Kelly, maybe it's time we had a little talk. You're getting to be a big girl now, and there's something I've been putting off telling you for a while. But time is slipping by quickly, and I don't want you to learn about it on the street. Honey, there is a thing out there that men will want you to do. In fact, they'll expect it. Now, no woman really enjoys it, but we do it, get them to marry us, and then never have to do it again. That horrible thing is called "work".

  • Used in Seinfeld when the main characters engage in a bet to see who can go the longest without ... pleasuring themselves. While Jerry, George, and Kramer each bet $100, they insist that Elaine put down $150, since, as a woman, the odds are in her favor.

Jerry: It's easier for a woman not to do it than a man. We have to do it; it's part of our lifestyle. It's like shaving.
Elaine: Oh, that is such bologna. I shave my legs.
Kramer: Not everyday!

    • It may have been thought by the characters but it was subverted by the show- Elaine is the second to cave in, after Kramer.
    • Taken even further in another episode where she makes another bet with Jerry that she could break up with Puddy. Cue the montage of her paying Jerry over and over again after making up with Puddy. And by make up I mean 'make up sex'. That's the reason she couldn't stay away, the sex was too good.
  • Debra's uninterest in sex with Ray is such a Running Gag in Everybody Loves Raymond, it's a wonder the two ever had kids at all.[1] This seems to be the most common variation, where women will only use sex to get a man to marry her and then later have kids. It's only partially Justified by a large case of Ugly Guy, Hot Wife, and the fact that in-universe, Ray is actually pretty terrible at it (both characters have said as much).
    • Although to be fair, it's also a running gag that most of the favors Ray does for Debra are a means to get him laid. At worst, it's a cyclical thing.
  • iCarly: Carly Shay is a kid-friendly version of the trope. She's 16 going on 17, and still can't tell that two squirrels were not wrestling.
    • Then again in iOMG, she is trying to hook up her best friend with a guy, and uses a metaphor about horses being 'put in a barn' together. Freddie feigns ignorance until Carly refuses to come right out and say what she means.
    • If anything, Carly is a kid-friendly aversion. In a recent episode she even says "I haven't kissed a boy in four months, I'm starting to get itchy.".
  • Pretty much every married, male stand-up comedian (and even a few unmarried ones) has a joke or two about how sex comes to a screeching halt immediately after marriage unless the woman wants kids.
  • Averted in a very funny way in How I Met Your Mother: the men are in a tailor's when Marshall urges Ted not to attempt a Long-Distance Relationship with Victoria, saying "long distance was invented by women. All talking and no sex? Kill me now". In a scene which is shown later but took place around the same time, Lily (Marshall's fiance) urges Victoria not to attempt a long distance relationship with Ted, saying "all talking and no sex? Kill me now". Lily has also been shown in other episodes to have a fairly high sex drive.
  • An episode of Yes, Dear had the woman who was supposed to babysit the kids on Valentine's Day cancel because she had a date. Kim is on the phone asking her to reconsider, saying that "Guys are only after one thing, and as soon as he finds out you're not going to give it to him, he'll move on." Combines with Contractual Purity when the babysitter admits to have already given it to him. Kim immediately hangs up and says she doesn't want her around their children anymore.
  • In Firefly, while Inara's job usually calls for sex with clients, she herself pretty much views the entire thing at purely business and shows no interest in sex otherwise, romantic feelings for Mal notwithstanding.
    • Averted for most other females on the show. Kaylee is shown in a flashback to have met Mal when she snuck onboard the ship to have sex with the guy who was mechanic at the time (it seemed that the engine... erm... got her going). She also spends most of the series wanting to start a relationship with Simon, specifically having sex, although she does hold off until he makes it clear that he too is interested. Zoe, likewise, is shown to enjoy a good time with her husband, first seen at the end of the first episode, where she literally pulls him away into their quarters.
    • Also obviously averted for Inara's female client.
  • Played for Laughs in the House episode "Open and Shut".

Thirteen: A woman who likes sex must be sick?
House: Just because everybody in this room wishes that all women were horny all the time, doesn't make it so.


Stand-Up Comedy

  • A very common topic in comedy, to the point where a comedian or comedienne who denies it will usually be working blue.
  • In a stand-up routine, Bill Engvall says that women can go without sex "like a camel", much to the frustration of their lovers. Of course, he also says that they don't necessarily like to do that, and could just as easily be referring to a Lysistrata Gambit.
  • Chris Rock's stand-up routine claims that women can easily turn down sex because they've been offered it by pretty much every male in their life, implicitly or explicitly, since they were thirteen, on a constant basis.

"It's easy for you to say no! You know why? Every woman in here, ever since you was THIRTEEN, every guy you ever met's been trying to fuck ya!"
"Can I get that for you? How about some dick? Do ya need some dick??"
"Nobody offers us shit! We have to fend for ourselves! We can't believe it when we get an offer! We're like, Damn! It's my lucky day!"

  • Louis CK in Live at the Beacon Theater says that the reason for both this trope and All Men Are Perverts is because women are great at sex while men are terrible at it.

"Why don't they just want to fuck all the time? I do!" Of course you do! Because when you fuck, you get to fuck a woman! When she fucks, she has to fuck a guy!


Web Comics

  1. How adverse is she? Her biggest turn-on in the show was when Ray said he didn't want to have sex.