Friday, February 11, 2011

Flirty Friday: How can a feminist flirt?

"The exhibitionist loves to flirt with shame. " -- Mason Cooley

This statement is never so true as when that exhibitionist happens to also be a feminist on the pull. Male or female, if somebody subscribes to the tenets of feminism, they're shit out of luck when it comes to flirting. Because flirting is inherently objectifying, right? And yet even feminists get lucky sometimes. How does this even happen? Well, I have some guesses.

Flirting is probably most effective when the emphasis is on motive: You aren't really saying the thing you're saying. You're saying, to quote the movie Avatar, "I see you." I notice you. I think you're unusually interesting. Nothing in this statement objectifies the other person: it's all about you and how impressed you are.

And that implies a fundamental about flirtation: A flirty compliment is meant to make the other person feel good about himself or herself. The trick is to keep all flirty comments flattering rather than objectifying. So, instead of saying, "Nice ass!" you could say, "You really have a knack for [insert]."

Finally, back to shame, one good way to avoid making flirtation into a shameful behavior, regardless of your philosophies or politics, is to be sex-positive. Now that term, sex positive, can mean a lot of things, but at its core it means that you consider sex a good thing. For religious folks, that might mean that they see union with the divine through coitus; for others it could mean that they feel best about themselves and their bodies when they're naked in a room with ten other people. The point is that the people in both examples believe that sex, and that seeking sex, is a net positive, something worth indulging and enjoying. There is no shame in it.

In the end, I believe that the trick to good flirting is maintaining sincerity, something that will stand you in good stead. Even if you're trying to pick up a feminist.


Cross-posted to Viv's personal blog.


Savanna Kougar said...

Interesting. I never thought of flirting as objectifying anyone. It's usually, from my observation, an attraction between two people... or, a groups that simply enjoys being together, and being flirtatious with each other.

Of course, if all someone is interested in is a body part... well, I don't think of that as flirting... that's just carnal crassness.

Cara Bristol said...

I think the difference between flirtation that is flattering or flirtation that is objectifying comes down to motive and personalization.

Are you genuinely interested in/attracted to the person you're flirting with? Or are you a person who flirts with everyone in the hopes that something sticks?

Second, do your comments pertain to the individual involved or are you tossing out a one-size-fits-all line?

Without flirting, I don't know how couples would get together. Really it's just a way of saying, I'm interested in you...are you interested in me.