Remember that Sexual Respect requirement you have to complete? It’s not going away anytime soon, so you’d best choose one of the fun workshops, at least. That’s why we sent Daily Nadra Rahman to review “The Art and Science of Flirting.”
I entered 633 Mudd with confidence, knowing anything I would learn at “The Art and Science of Flirting”, a Sexual Respect workshop, would be old hat to me. And while the people in the sizeable crowd around me seemed interested, animated, and thoughtful, taking away lessons from the presentation, I think it’s important to remain critical too—isn’t that something the Core tries to instill in us?
The workshop was led by Jane Bogart, a self-proclaimed “sexpert” and the director of the Center for Student Wellness, which she enticingly described as an oasis of crafternoons and Pilates. Before she began, Bogart announced that people who answered questions correctly throughout the presentation would receive lollipops. Here are my first critiques: (a) that’s weak candy game, and (b) everyone is entitled to candy, not just the privileged few.
What followed was a torrent of information about flirting. A few fun facts: Babies flirt! Emotions are contagious! Inside Out was a great movie that we can easily relate to emotional intelligence! It got ~interactive~ when Bogart pulled up a game in which we were to match facial expressions to the emotions they conveyed. It was informative, although I maintain some of the answers were too simplistic to account for the range of feelings evident in each anguish-ridden face—that’s the only reason I could have gotten any of them wrong.
We then discussed the various ways our bodies betray our interest in people (coincidentally, only 7% of a first impression is gathered from the actual words you speak—the rest is body language and tone of voice). Surefire signs of flirting include eyelock (at least three times to indicate real interest), the touching of the face (the “nuclear option”), and object caress, which is when you vigorously stroke the stem or rim of a glass or fondle your face with a fan or do something else to ramp up sexual tension and get the point across. Those with positive body language will orient themselves toward you and keep their palms open, while people who are not that into you will cross their arms and give you side-eye. As for pick-up lines, Bogart suggests leaving them at home, claiming a simple “hello” or comment on a shared activity will do the job just as well (she also suggests brainstorming conversation topics beforehand for shyer folk).
We then practiced “flirting” (aka having a conversation with active listening) with the person next to us. I complimented my partner’s dress; she said, “I like your nose.” A bit forward, but I’ll take it!
My take on all this is that real-life flirting is a hassle and seems complicated and it’s a bit worrying that someone can look into your eyes and measure the dilation to calculate the extent to which you are interested. I prefer wrapping myself in a blanket, sending carefully calculated emojis, and selectively replying to texts/Snaps, which is why the segment on cyberflirting seemed particularly appropriate.
After establishing the right number of y’s in “hey” as an opening message (she strongly advocated for two), Bogart delved into the art of the emoji. We played another game, this time on the subtle differences between the subtexts of similar emojis. It was really tough!! My suggestion is that we incorporate Aziz Ansari’s first texts bit from his stand-up (mentioned by Bogart!) to really flesh out this segment.
Bogart left us with with the tip that we should practice flirting with everyone to improve our skills; all that means is making pleasant conversation with “people who don’t matter…to you…not that they don’t matter to other people.” One of her suggestions was a barista from Joe Coffee, who I guess doesn’t matter…to me…not that he doesn’t matter to other people.
My only remaining criticism is that the system of giving out lollipops was a little hazardous, but beyond that, a lot of people learned a lot. Not me, of course, since I never intend to put any of this to use.
Gems from the workshop:
Unsuccessful flirting via Shutterstock