Surviving the Rude and the Prude: Assertion of Power and Character
How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves
We often meet people who are either rude or prude and sometimes to our chagrin both combined in one, resulting in a fantastic concoction. Both are socially awkward and are deterrent to healthy exchange of emotions and friendship. Both are queer, as they are in denial of their humanity…
Since they lack grace and poise most of them are social burdens that does nothing to take human relationships to the next level. We find ourselves bitter and resentful towards them without even knowing it. The only way to handle them is uniquely linked to their own shortcomings.
“How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves” –
When people are rude to others they are conscious about not considering other’s feelings and hurting them by being mean. It cannot be denied that being rude is a personal choice of constantly creating anxiety in social interaction. Being mean to people and insulting them is a kind of self-protection for the rude. They insult someone even before the other gets a chance to dislike him/her.
However, rudeness can’t be excused. Even though rude behaviour stems from some psychological makeup, no-one would stop and brood over the ‘reason’ behind someone’s rudeness. If you are rude, you send a straight message to people about yourself. The toxicity rude people create is more to do with them than us. It is nothing but a coping mechanism to deal with their own feelings of inadequacy and undesirability.
Similarly, and to a great extent are the prudes. Collins English Dictionary defines prude as a:
person who affects or shows an excessively modest, prim, or proper attitude esp. regarding sex.
Even though the term was formally gender specific associated with middle aged women now it has taken on a gender-neutral association. Many men show prudish behaviour which is directly linked to the element of shame associated with sexual matters and societal acceptance and institutionalisation of silence and proprietary that goes with it as a mark of good character. The secrecy and shame surrounding sex and sexuality is still alive and well. Also, there is no acceptance of the sexual pleasure. Prudishness is a case of psychology interfering with biology.
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As Christina H. Tarnopolsky says in her book Prudes, Perverts, and Tyrants: Plato’s Gorgias and the Politics of Shame, that prudes are “figures that are actually constructed out of the more fundamental desire for very rigid boundaries between the self and the other.” (22). The same can be applied to the rude as well. And one of the ways in which they demean the other is by indulging in the politics of shaming. Rudeness and prudishness are forms of insidious power play. Such behaviour is just a way of controlling a situation or person by asserting superiority and thereby shaming the other.
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Remember, that it is just a mistaken notion of superiority. The rude assert the superiority of their power and prudes assert the superiority of their character. Both germinate in negative view, of sexuality in the case of prudes and humanity in the case of the rude. Both are an embarrassment to the other on whom they inflict their lacks.
There is, however, a more insidious dimension to such attitude and behaviour. Both are overtly conscientious. They are excessively conscious of what they should and should not do. They are obsessive about adhering to moral and social code of propriety. They abhor uncertainty and are quick to judge everybody as a threat and apply their strict values to others. They tend to be uncivil and thoughtless in treating the other with contempt and disdain that they have no desire to conceal.
Moral standards are a matter of personal choice. They uphold their own code of values as a standard of behaviour. This begs the question whether they can be in any way be disarmed? The only astute approach to disarm the inconsiderate rude and prude is through equanimity and empathy. The most effective way is to keep your calm and show self-restraint by maintaining composure. Avoid becoming reactive till their behaviour crosses the line. The less reactive you are, the more you can use your judgment to handle the person. Secondly, keep your distance. Just get the monkey off your back. We don’t have to take it personally. It’s difficult to be good to a rude person least we can do is to curtly disconnect with them. Assertion without aggression can be deployed when dealing with such people.
Tarnopolsky, Christina H. Prudes, Perverts, and Tyrants: Plato’s Gorgias and the Politics of Shame. Princeton University Press, 2010.
The author, Dr. Sapna Dogra completed her B.A and M.A. in English Literature from University of Delhi. She holds a PhD from Jawaharlal Nehru University. She is presently working as an Assistant Professor in the Department of English in the Government College Baroh, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh. Her research interests include Folklore Studies, Translation Studies, Indian English Writing, Hindi Literature and Popular Literature. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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