Flirting News - Modern Flirting
It's Saturday night in front of the Regal Cinema, a hangout in Rockville, Md., and the high school girls are working it.
A dark-haired beauty in tight, low jeans stares at a guy, then walks over to ask if he goes to her school. A reed-thin blonde strolls down the sidewalk in high heels, hugging guys and checking over her shoulder to make sure her boyfriend is tagging behind. A ninth-grader in a denim miniskirt exchanges conversational barbs with a boy leaning against a post, then fakes a little scream as he steps toward her and pulls up her skirt, putting her panties on display.
In the spirit of gender equality, many a young woman has discarded the slow, subtle arts of flirtation and charm that females have used successfully on males for millennia, and replaced them with quick, direct strikes: punching their numbers into his cell-phone memory, rubbing his shoulders, grinding with him on the dance floor, hooking up in the spare bedroom at a party.
The result hasn't been especially happy, some young women say, for though they may snag the guy in question, it's only until he gets a better offer. As the one being pursued, a woman used to be able to set the course and pace of a relationship. As the pursuer, she relinquishes control, not to mention the fun of being chased.
To flirt is not to endorse old caricatures of eyelid-batting and feigned helplessness.
Instead, think of a woman signaling a man using universal gestures: the slightly upward side glance, the half-smile, the light touch of one finger on the forearm. And we're talking lively, smart conversation on dozens of topics. Any woman can flash skin, says Southern author Ronda Rich, but the most irresistible damsel is the one who seduces and flirts with a sharp, knowledgeable mind.
Think of stretching out disclosures over time while the man proves his interest by praising her eyes, her smile, her mind. He does this so often that he finds himself actually admiring these traits, even falling in love. Meanwhile the woman decides whether to proceed.
In another time, another world, Marisa Nightingale's grandmother had learned to be a powerful woman, and to enchant men, under another set of rules.
Nightingale, 35, remembers that Beatrice Liebowitz Nightingale Helpern, born in 1907, saw no reason to change her mind, even in the 1980s when many women rejected graces and wiles as demeaning. Parents focused less on how their daughters dated than on how education and careers would guarantee independence.
But Grandma Helpern used words such as courtship, flirtation and charm. How reactionary they must have sounded when Helpern was teaching them to Marisa and her sister Elizabeth.
Marisa, married and a media specialist in Washington, remembers her grandmother's heresy in detail, even though she's a member of the generation that worked hard to refute it.
It's important to be smart, accomplished and captivating, her grandmother would say. For Helpern, flirtation was simply one piece of a studied, and practiced, presence. She bought her granddaughters dresses at Bloomingdale's. She read them poetry and talked about current events. She introduced them to adults at parties and then sent them off to work the room, practicing their conversational skills.
She thought we should always be pursued, Nightingale remembers. 'Don't get too serious too soon,' she would say. 'The choice is yours.'
Nightingale is aware of the criticism that these seductive arts were rooted in powerlessness. Her grandmother, like so many women of that era, depended on her cleverness, as well as her intelligence and looks, to secure a husband and, through him, financial and emotional security.
But Helpern, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the New Jersey College for Women, now a part of Rutgers, never thought of herself as powerless, Nightingale says. Everything she did, she did to enhance what she had, not make up for something she was missing. And that was how she wanted her granddaughters to think.
When you have someone who looks at you that way, you start looking at yourself that way, Helpern's granddaughter says.
A lot of girls nowadays wouldn't - couldn't - understand.
So what tools does a girl and her sweetheart use to negotiate the dance?
The computer, for one thing, a machine devoid of tone of voice, gesture, facial expression, pheromones and all the other mysterious messages that go back and forth in person.
You don't talk to the person, you (instant message) him, says high school senior Paige Nichols, hanging out at her local Starbucks with three Arlington, Va., girlfriends.
Even in such impersonal discourse as instant messaging you choose your words carefully, preparing for a possible rejection.
It sounds cheesy to say, 'Will you go out with me?' says Julia Gick. You might say, 'What's up with us?' If there is something up with us, you may not be boyfriend and girlfriend, Maura Cassidy continues. Maybe you say, 'We have a thing,' says Cassidy. Then when you break up, you can say it wasn't anything.
Full credit goes to:
Henderson Gleaner, KY
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