Even ‘Superman’ makes gaffes. In the course of a recent interview, Henry Cavill shared his thoughts about the current #MeToo movement and how it has impacted flirting. “Stuff has to change, absolutely, in terms of men’s behaviour,” he declared, adding, “It’s important to also retain the good things, which were a quality of the past, and get rid of the bad things. There’s something wonderful about a man chasing a woman. There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice. I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I’m old-fashioned for thinking that.”
The ‘Man of Steel’ maintained, “It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something’… I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?”
Erring on the side of caution
Soon Cavill had to apologise for “any confusion and misunderstanding” that his comments may have created. Fact remains, these are tricky times for not just those in the public eye. While sparking social change, the #MeToo movement has also apparently brought in an element of fear in the dating scene. An MTV survey of 1800 men and women aged between 18 and 25 revealed that nearly one in three men were worried that something they had done could be perceived as sexual harassment. Are we indeed ‘criminalising courtship’, as American attorney Gerald Rivera had controversially suggested?
Dr Kersi Chavda, Consultant Psychiatrist, Hinduja Hospital believes it is important today to err on the side of caution just so that there is no possibility of being viewed as inappropriate. “The ethical stand is now that anything that makes the other person uncomfortable, has to be avoided. You have to back off completely, no questions asked. And this rule applies to both sexes.”
Consent is key
Chavda adds, “Even though there is much more opportunity for interaction between the sexes and sexual freedom, there is also much more awareness of rights and that a no should be taken as a no. A woman might want to be the aggressor, but still want to be treated like she is demure and needs looking after; it might become confusing. However, consent is key and ignorance is no excuse.”
Make-up and hair expert Elton J Fernandez, who is gay, also believes it all boils down to respecting consent. “A man has to have a lot of ego and insecurity to be put off by someone’s lack of consent. If a person respects himself, he will be able to respect somebody else. When I’m dating a man or expressing interest, I make it very clear that whatever is going to go down, will only happen if there is two-way consent.” In the flirting game, not too difficult a term to understand, we think!
Founder and Creative Director of Doctor Drama, Anupriya M. Banerjee, the first Indian to receive a Master’s Degree in drama therapy from New York University, reveals what she looks forward to when someone is flirting with her…
There is this palpable awkward tension filled with curiosity, excitement, nervousness and a lot of insecurities from both ends. Essentially you’re putting yourself out there to be accepted or rejected. While I admire the courage it takes to flirt, I usually gravitate to flirting that makes both parties in the conversation comfortable and casual.
Let me clarify this; humour has a lot of renditions in flirting mode. There is humour like, “Hey, is your daddy a terrorist coz you’re a bomb yo” or “Would you like a mocktail or COCK-tail”. (Clearly, I have rarely attracted good pick up lines!). Humour, if used correctly, has this amazing ability to penetrate and represent the tension of the moment while alleviating the nervous energy at the same time.
Flirting is fun when it is reciprocated
There are moments where I have been literally and figuratively saying, “Sense the tone bro. I’m not into it.” I notice sometimes when people flirt their comprehension becomes very solipsistic. It doesn’t seem to matter to the opposite party that I look constipated out of boredom or my gall bladder is being fried by the constant attempt to impress me. I have had guys go from Prince Charming to Mr. Profanity in a second because I wasn’t into them. On the other hand, I have made so many friends over the years that started with a little bit of flirting. Moral of the story is: Always be nice (even if it doesn’t work out).
Go with the flow
When you flirt, it is unrealistic to set a benchmark of expectations as to how the opposite person will react. I love it when someone can meet me where I am at be it emotionally, physically, sexually or intellectually.
Flirting is a playful act of sexual expression between two people and while it’s great to be spontaneous and creative there must be an acknowledgement of boundaries of comfort and consent.