Re: The Seductive Arts


"Is flirting a way for women to exercise power or an acquiescence to outmoded gender roles?"

Well, both.

I am constitutionally sceptical of the kind of sociobiological arguments cited in this article. On the one hand, these experts argue that flirting is hardwired into females as a form of protection. On the other hand, they decry its rapid demise (it seems to have declined within the space of a mere generations). But if it's hardwired, how could it be so extremely vulnerable to societal pressures?

But at the risk of sounding like a reactionary, I tend to agree that a revival of some aspects of courtship would be a good thing. It needn't involve a return of the law of coverture...

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct | Link to this comment | 10-22-03 7:46 PM
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Sure, both. I was summarizing more than asking. But then again, I'm not sure I see that flirting needs to be an acquiescence. As part of a female courtship strategy of the kind described in the article, then yes. But as a method of interaction and communication, women, as well as men, can flirt without compromising their dignity, don't you think?

I agree with you about courtship. But what I found most interesting in the article was its (at least oblique) recognition that courtship requires skills that teens, generally speaking, don't have anymore. Some of the aggressive behavior seemed to me a result of just not knowing what to say. Really, those old-timey folk had Tracy and Hepburn, we're giving these kids...Vin Diesel.

Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 10-22-03 8:36 PM
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I think something can be hardwired and yet not done. We humans can override our instincts.

Why is it that courtship is treated so different from any other human actvity? Imagine that I want to play the trumpet for the NY Philharmonic, so I buy a trumpet and seek advice from my friends before auditioning. I've had no instruction, but I've seen the trumpet played on TV. My friends say "Just be yourself. Act natural. They should like you for what you are."

We accept the need for instruction and practice in every aspect of our lives except courtship. Because somehow that is demeaning. Poppycock!

At some level all courtship is a competition (not between the couple, but between you and other members of your gender), and it just makes sense to try to improve your skills.

Posted by: Tripp | Link to this comment | 10-23-03 9:00 AM
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