This time last year I wrote about An Unbalanced Gender Culture, and how things were rapidly coming to a head (which I encourage you to read before continuing), with regards to uncertainty within our standard gender roles and how we relate to each other. I have been blogging and tweeting about Baby It’s Cold Outside and the #MeToo movement with concern about what effect this is having on our perceptions. And the problem being that we are ignoring the underlying issue about the roles changing between men and women, and more importantly how we are perceiving these changes. And this is bringing up a multitude of questions, including, “where is the new line?”
Just yesterday, I was bartending, and one of my regulars told me with sincerity, that he no longer knows how to talk to women because of the #MeToo movement. The last thing he wants to do is offend anyone, but the reality is, he is a newly divorced 50 year old man, and he wants to get out dating and flirting again, but the old ways don’t seem acceptable anymore. He is completely open to changing his ways, but he also feels too old to walk on eggshells and not be authentic or truthful. I think his challenges are completely relatable to almost everyone. The world is changing, and what’s super scary is that we are trying to go back in time and retroactively punish people, media, etc with our currently unclear new world view.
Now let me be clear here, that this statement is not meant to scold the brave women for standing up against Weinstein or any rapist or abuser. That, I need to be clear going forward, has always been wrong, and will continue to be wrong. That isn’t hindsight. That is bravery on the part of these women for finding the courage to say something, even years later. There is a very clear difference between knowing something is wrong, or that gut wrenching action that made you feel horrible at the time, and what I am discussing here with regards to using todays new cloudy lens then seeking out situations from our past that, probably would not be acceptable by todays standards. This is the key problem we are currently facing, we are focusing on digging up past situations instead of finding solutions for the current world view or thinking about what we want our future to look like.
So, with that in mind, let’s ask the question, how should men today, flirt and interact with women that they are interested in? Where is the new line between coy, flirty and fun, versus rude, crude and inappropriate? The answer, and I am really, really sorry about this, but… there isn’t one. This is a grey area. We do not have a solution yet. So far, we can all agree that we have to start listening to the word no, and further we have to start using the word no in a more responsible and in a firm manor. It cannot be said with a playful or coy intonation, and whenever used in that context it has to be taken at face value (precisely the reason why Baby It’s Cold Outside cannot be viewed with today’s new standards, no was used in a playful manor). But aside from that, I struggle to find any other all encompassing rule that can help guide us in a sex positive behavioural direction. Or in a less wordy way, to help us all get our flirt on and feel good about ourselves later. Things remain really fuzzy and this is why I suggest we start with the simplest question first, where is your line?
I know where my lines and limits are, and just to give you a little insight or help point you in the right direction I will share or overshare as is often the case; I don’t enjoy flirting with strangers. I like getting to know someone, and them in turn getting to know me. Even just a coffee or two in a completely platonic way helps bring my guard down. After that, flirting becomes fun and an enjoyable action, and I feel free to make dirty jokes, touch, and even drive things towards a much more physical setting. So for this reason, online dating has never been an effective way to date. Instead, it’s a way to find someone for a first meeting and then go from there. I just don’t get off flirting or sexting with strangers. And this is only an example of what works for me. This insight will not work for every person out there, not even close. As there are many women who won’t waste their time meeting someone if they haven’t been told they are attractive or have caught the eye of a stranger. Expressing desire goes a long way for many, hell it even goes a long way for me, but again, never in an opening message or before an in person conversation (again just my opinion and will not work for everyone which is why I am asking you where your own line is).
My earnest hope in you reading or listening to this post is that you take a little comfort in knowing you are not alone. And that you don’t give up, or go to the other extreme, which I hope I don’t need to spell out here. We will find a solution, and we will get out of this grey area together. Flirting will be fun again! Mistakes will once again be allowed to be made without witch hunts, and we will again find the humanity in our sexuality, and even our sensuality. It will just take time, education, asking tough questions and of course accepting a few more stumbles and growing pains.
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