Pamela Madsen imagines a day when women and men can flirt without fear.
I just spent several days in an all female sexuality workshop. The women danced and played in their sexual energy among themselves. In this world, I had several opportunities to talk with women about sexuality and their relationship with men.
It seems that so many of us want the attention of men, yet greet their attention with anger or fear. We want masculine attention, dress for it, flip our hair on the street for it, but when we get a response—we often respond with silence or angry looks. Our eyes often don’t greet the smile of masculine appreciation with warmth—often we return it with a “how dare you notice!” Sometimes we even cross the street, and look very busy on our cell phones.
A lot of how women respond to male attention has to do with the way it’s delivered. It’s not that most women don’t want men to notice them; many do. In fact, when we walk in our sexual power down the street and are admired by men in a gentle non- aggressive way, sometimes it can even be healing for us. I think it might be healing for the men too. For 30 seconds, no one is invisible. We are allowed to be sexual beings, with no strings attached. It’s just a moment. And it can be so much fun.
For sure, cat calls, loud whistles and lewd gestures are not the way into a woman’s heart. I don’t know many women or men who welcome that. I’m talking about men who know how to smile into a woman’s eyes and wink as she passes by. A male friend of mine tells a story about how he was on a motorcycle, stopped at a red light. There was a woman dressed up to be seen and noticed. So he noticed her, and their eyes met. He simply mouthed the word “Beautiful” with a smile. The light changed, and away he went. If it was me, I would have melted on the spot. I don’t know if she did or not, but she returned his gaze and smiled. It was a moment, and my male friend still remembers it. I still remember the story. So what about that?
So many women want this kind of gentle attention. I think so many men want to give it. So why do women usually just look away and pretend that we didn’t notice. Why do some of us react in fear or disgust? At least on the surface anyway. Why does the appreciative gaze or soft comment of men sometimes scare women and make us return the favor with the word, “pig”? Is it the fear of the cat call? Or the fear that if a woman so much as acknowledges a man’s smile on the street that it becomes an invitation for rape and pillage?
What if women felt safe enough to simply take it in. I would love to welcome back this ancient dance between men and women. Those brief moments of appreciation between us that lead to nothing more than a smile.
What if men learned to softened their gaze and women learned the art of accepting the gentle quiet compliment? What might happen then? What if us women, could feel welcome in the warm attention of men as we walked down the street? What if men practiced sending us low vibrational appreciation? What if women could feel supported by men and see their appreciative gaze as a simple acknowledgment of our feminine power? What might happen then? I think so many of us—male and female still want to enjoy these old customs of public smiles and drive by flirting—but are frightened of it.
I asked a man in his fifties about this, and this is what he had to say:
“I love being older, I can smile at women of all ages because I am happy to see them. Some, many, smile back, we may even pass with a greeting. I know it makes a pleasant moment for me, and I hope it does for them. Shame on me – I may even turn and admire a shapely pair of legs. I tell myself I’m an artist and allowed to appreciate beauty.”
I had an African friend who once who told me his tribe had a special vocalization—almost a grunt—reserved for meeting any stranger, that merely said, “I acknowledge your existence.” Perhaps we need such a greeting.
In this day and age of feminism, could we all possibly feel secure and safe in this gentle exchange between the feminine and the masculine energy? Is there even some healing in that? I think there is.
In the land of male smiles, many women are able to tap into owning their sexual power. What is wrong with a little public preening? And why not permit men so that they too can feel safe in giving the compliment? Empower men, not shame them when they see us and smile. If you don’t want to smile back, you don’t have to. But do you have to snarl?
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Photo credit: -Benedikt-/Flickr