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All Women Are Prudes
The book that men are certain every woman reads.

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 some 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. 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.

Many modern folk believe this to be Older Than Feudalism. 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.

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

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.


Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Films 
  • 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." note 
  • 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, 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."
  • In I Think I Love My Wife, this trope is a problem in Richard and Brenda's marriage. Richard complains of Brenda not wanting to have sex with him unless it's for having a baby.
  • The 1961 film Splendor in the Grass (set in 1928), is a Deconstruction of this trope. When teenager Deanie asks her mother if she ever felt "that way" about her husband, she explains that that no nice girl has sexual desires, and she never enjoyed sex with her him: "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 liberation, and ends on quite a bittersweet note.

    Literature 
  • 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 invoked by the Party in 1984. 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. They would ideally prefer if men didn't enjoy it either (O'Brien at one point proclaims that the Party's neurosurgeons are currently working on abolishing the orgasm), but at that point an ejaculation is a necessity for procreation.
  • 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.
  • Allen Sherman (yes, the "Hello Muddah, Hello Faddah" guy) wrote a book called The Rape of the A*P*E* in which he claims that women are less obsessed with sex than men because any woman, no matter how ugly she is, knows that if she wants to she can have sex tonight. Men, in contrast, wake up in the morning thinking "I don't know if I can have sex tonight. In fact, I don't know if I will have sex this week, my God, I may never have sex again!".
    • Which creates a chicken-or-the-egg scenario: Women aren't obsessed with sex because men are obsessed with sex so women can get sex whenever they want. Men are obsessed with sex because women aren't obsessed with sex so men don't know whether or not they'll ever have sex again.
  • V. C. Andrews' heroines are made of this trope. Somewhat justified in that they're usually the victims of rather horrendous rape and incest, and even normal sex is usually punished in some terrible way.

    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!"
      • Overall, however, Carla subverts this - she's generally shown as having a high libido, and it once was actually a minor plot point when she doesn't have an orgasm, since she always has before during sex.
      • One episode involves Carla telling Turk that she wants to stop having sex until they're married to make it more special. Turk, who's not happy about staying celibate for 6 months, is initially reluctant but, at the end of the episode, agrees. Carla, who has a bad day at work and needs to unwind, says "screw that" and takes him to the bedroom.
      • There was also the time when Carla is actively trying to get pregnant, and Turk gets fed up with all the grueling sex he has to do until Elliot convinces him to look at it in a different way. After getting pregnant, Carla gets more horny, while Turk is a little disgusted with the thought of having sex with a pregnant woman.
    • Subverted in one episode with Jordan's visiting friend, who gets shaky if she doesn't have sex every few days. And subverted 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 we possibly use sex to get what we want? Sex is what we want!" ...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.
      • Which isn't saying much, since Kramer was out after about 5 minutes.
    • Played straight by Marla the Virgin, who broke up with Jerry after he told her about the contest. That is, until she met John F. Kennedy, Jr.
    • 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.
    • Then there was another episode where Jerry tried to perform the "roommate switch". The entire plan hinged on the girl he was dating getting disgusted at the idea of a "ménage-à-trois". Instead, she liked the idea and Jerry decided not to do it because he's "not an orgy guy".
  • 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. How adverse is she? Her biggest turn-on in the show was when Ray said he didn't want to have sex. 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.
  • 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 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.
    • And then it and the Double Standard counterpart A Man Is Always Eager are played straight when Stella, justifying her five-year streak of celibacy, says seriously "Men regret the women they don't sleep with. Women regret the men they do." Granted, she may have been referring to the fact that her last sexual partner left her with a daughter, which clearly affects her life a lot more than it affected his.
  • 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 having 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 as purely business and shows no interest in sex otherwise, romantic feelings for Mal notwithstanding.
    • Justified in that Inara is invariably satisfied; one of the most important rules regarding Companions is that she gets to pick her own clients (and a boorish fellow who sufficiently repulses her is blacklisted by the entire Guild). In fact, when she comes to realize the depths of her feelings for Mal she determines to leave the ship - because if she stayed she'd be defying this trope six ways from sunday.
    • 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.
  • An interesting inversion in The Big Bang Theory: Amy seems deeply interested in sex, but is dating Sheldon, who is himself a inversion of the opposite trope. Amy did play it straight when she first appeared on the show, however.
  • A split-screen conversation between Eric/Hyde and Donna/Jackien in That '70s Show, about Eric and Donna having cut each other off from sex:
    Hyde: Secretly, I think women love sex just as much as we do.
    Eric: Yeah, right!
    Jackie (to Donna): If men find out we love sex just as much as they do, we'll never get jewelry again!
  • Liz Lemon of 30 Rock started off as disinterested in sex and this was later Flanderized into an Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality. Subverted, in that her attitude is portrayed as being unusual and part of her geekiness. The season-five episode "Reaganing" provides a Freudian Excuse for her fear of sex.

    Music 
  • Averted in "Hold Me" by K.T. Oslin: "Don't kiss me like we're married. Kiss me like we're lovers".

    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 C.K. 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!

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • Clay teaches this trope to Orel by in "The Blessed Union" episode of Moral Orel when after Clay catches him leaving the sex shop. Clay tells Orel that women don't need fancy bells and whistles like genital piercings in order to be happy. He continues by saying that Bloberta doesn't care one lick about the sex part of their relationship. Clay then tells Orel that the reason why women are smarter than men is that they found the simple way to be happy is by cooking, cleaning and bearing children and not by having sex.


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