I wasn't winking at you, it was just a facial spasm...

I have always been one of those girls.  Not many female friends (less competition, less hassle), but a “a lot of pretty, pretty boys, that she calls friends”, as The Eagles would have it.  You know, the ones who are perhaps just a little too friendly with every boy or man they meet.  Prone to laughter, the odd amusing comment, faux-enthusiasm, arm-touching, smiles on lips and in eyes.  Even if it comes naturally, it can actually be quite tiring.  It can also be a lot of fun.   I wouldn’t say I had it down to a fine art per say, though perhaps at times a soulless one.  It is artifice.  And like the carnivalesque, or the masquerade, or plain old fancy dress, there is a pleasurable liberation in the possibilities and freedom it can offer.

Flirtation has to exist on a physical and subconscious level: body language can be far more important than the things you say.  Doubtless we have all read articles from eminent psychologists explaining how your pupils dilate to create those infamous “come to bed eyes” when you see someone you like.  Though that could just be the drugs – in this town, you never do know.  Or the way someone will “angle” their body towards you if they are interested – and let’s face it, in boring tutorials, who hasn’t imagined that the attractive guy in the corner pointing his legs at you is having to use every shred of willpower not to come over and kiss you.   Then, there is of course the mirroring of behaviour of someone you find attractive.  The latter two of these are so easy to imitate that just consciously putting those into action must be considered flirtation.  And if you want dilated pupils, just go somewhere dark.  Simple.  Apparently I have a habit of subconsciously hovering my hand near an attractive man’s crotch while talking to him.  I had absolutely no idea I did this until a friend pointed it out a couple of years ago.  I tend to be quite demonstrative with my hands in general – probably best if I just sit on them, otherwise swishing and twirling of hair starts to get a little overdone.  Tearing up napkins, peeling labels off beer bottles.  The usual.

Flirting is simple, and I find, largely thoughtless.  Regress a little: indulge in teasing mock-arguments that involves perhaps just a little more contact of eyes and innocent limbs as possible, a sort of sweet high school banter.  That said, do not behave like an ignorant adolescent.  Have some self-respect, after all.  If you’re smart never pretend to be stupid, but if you don’t know something then do let them explain.  If you are going to say something, keep it short, witty and if possible amusing.  Nod and smile; be engaged and engaging, charmed and charming.  Copying, mirroring, behaving as you’d like to be behaved to.  Look into thine lover’s eyes and see thineself.   Alternatively, laugh at any half-arsed attempt at a joke that may be made.  Be alluring, be seductive; be all those things that you have seen on films and think that are supposed to be attractive to the opposite sex.  The chances are that some of that cultural indoctrination will pay off.  You don’t have to speak in innuendos, there shouldn’t be a clamouring of “is that a euphemism for something….?” Be just suggestive enough, just the subtle side of obvious.  Which, let’s face it, is always pretty darn obvious.

I will flirt with anyone: tutors, flatmates, female friends, male acquaintances, the barista in Costa, complete strangers.  That is not to say I flirt with intention, you must understand.  I flirt because it is fun, and it can make communication easier.  In my mind I am usually just being friendly, helping to set somebody at ease.   I may laugh at your jokes, and occasionally touch your arm or leg as I make a point I think particularly pertinent, I may even lean in a little.  It does not mean I am offering anything, nor am I expecting to receive anything in turn.  Only sometimes, that is a difficult line to draw.  Flirting can get you in trouble, seemingly.  Flirting, it seems, is never without intent, it is never entirely innocent.  You act, and you act to deceive, so when deception is the result who are you to complain?  Who are you to argue, then, in a bar amongst your friends, if after spending half an hour flirting with a man he then follows you into the bathroom and once in there with you won’t let you leave.  What if he demands kisses?  Possibly more.  What you may have blindly, naively promised with a glance and without a second thought.  A throwaway glance that takes seed and embeds within a mind and leads to thoughts which can lead to actions.  Can you cry rape at a party you arguably invited it to?

It is thought that only 10-20% of rape victims report the crime.  In England and Wales in 2009, only 6.5% of rape charge cases resulted in a conviction.  In Scotland that figure was even lower, at 3.7%.

I have always been one of those girls, you know, the ones who are perhaps just a little too friendly with every boy they meet.  I find it can make conversation a lot easier, I do not believe that it makes me a lot easier.

Claire Bagnall

Image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/stevendepolo/4003350680/