It starts with a directed look, then a roll of the eyes, then a glance to the side and finally a nod as two, three, maybe four young women get up from the table, the cocktail banquette or the bar and leave the men behind as they head to ‘The Ladies’. The men left behind will now start talking…and boasting or, maybe, exaggerating and make-believing as their conversation turns to “could she?”/”will she?”/”has she”?
In The Ladies, the girls gather at the mirror, one heads to the toilet but is very much part of the conversation as they start talking. “He’s a groper… hands everywhere”, “He thinks he is God’s gift…NOT!!!”, “ Mine is really cute and I would like to see him again”, “ What about that old guy, the old suit, who thinks he’s here to teach us…asked me to sit on his lap”, “ I like the quiet one who doesn’t seem like the others…”
The girls would keep chatting as they went to the loo, tidied their make-up, did the lipstick pout, plumped their breasts, and checked that their very ‘mini’ skirts were pulled down hard enough to cover their knickers. Thus equipped they returned to the main game at the nightclub, flirting. The girls flashed eyes, cleavage, legs pretended to listen attentively, sat on laps, whispered into ears while the boys put hands on thighs, buttocks, maybe breasts, backs and tried to steal a kiss. All fuelled by nature’s insatiable appetite for procreation and the need for the extension of the species.
A lot of this worked as boy/girl partnerships were formed that became deep friendships and even into marriage and children which is the ultimate aim of this particular game. Other relationships didn’t get started or last for very long. It was very much a game, the ‘mating game’, complete with winners and losers and it was mostly a lot of fun. It was cheeky and even flattering such as the now long-gone ‘wolf whistle’ from a construction site could make a girl’s day or when the boys tried even harder on the sporting field to impress the girl watching. Sometimes those warnings in The Ladies were very real and needed to be heeded. That is how it used to be done some thirty to forty years ago: via private conversation, some serious warnings and by innuendo and guesswork. Forewarned is to be forearmed so the ‘pants men’ and old lechers were issued a ‘beware’ label by the girls in The Ladies.
Then it all changed. Was this through the more strident aspects of Feminism? Was it when the rather lovely appellation of The Ladies sign was changed to the clinically dry identification of ‘Women’?
Having long suspected the females of my species that need an ‘ism’ I find it a paradox that to promote personal power you need a group identity platform. Now the frivolous activity of flirting is like a Middle Eastern minefield of what to do, how to progress while literally watching your backside and being ever vigilant of nuances in looks, words and body language.
Courting nowadays has many of the characteristics of war. In this war, it is the females that have the upper hand because they are better at language and can find innuendo in a simple, jokey, office gift or off-handed comment. They are also better at reading signals and emotions and they use these nature-bestowed gifts to run business and corporate agenda. But they aren’t as good at jokes or big picture analyses or even management methods like ‘letting the dust settle’ as the female focus may be multi-lateral but it is quite confined and restricted in scope.
Many such women are now eschewing motherhood because the business, the firm, the corporation has taken the role of family in their lives. Those that try to do both miss out on standing on the sidelines as their child runs, swims, rows or rides or miss sitting in the auditorium at the play, the debate or the concert. It is all about choices and women, as they focus and excel at commercial careers must leave a large part of the mothering career behind. How this will play out we are yet to find out as this phenomenon is only a few decades old.
Away from the machinery of the corporate world women continue to use their best assets to best use. Was it fifty years ago that Jean Shrimpton shocked Australia by showing off her great knees below the hemline of her dress at The Melbourne Cup? Now we have red carpet parades leading ‘high-profile’ young women into gala sporting and entertainment events wearing nothing but gauze and a few strategically placed bits of lace.
Don’t get me wrong, these are beautiful female bodies and we can now get to see most of them but it is a long way from Jean Shrimpton’s dress-above-the knee that caused such a stir. We used to call it prick-teasing. Now in the political and sexually correct world should such ‘prick-teasing’ be regarded as offensive as bottom-pinching? Women now dress to show as much of their best assets as possible be that breasts, legs or a cheeky butt. They are now in closer and more regular contact with men in working and private environments than ever before so could females now be the sexual harassers via the titillation of ‘look but don’t dare touch’? If you do I will tell everyone. Or is it, by offering a fairly full view of an unattainable female body a reverse form of wearing the burka?
Poor blokes can’t make a compliment, send a cheeky whistle, rub shoulders with women, run a hand down a woman’s back without risking job, livelihood and their reputations. Sure there are sleazebags out there and their behaviour should be called out but when it happens, directly woman to man, not decades later. There used to be a hall of enquiry all those years ago where male behaviour was discussed and adjudicated out of the public gaze with least damage to all involved. It was called The Ladies.
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