Friday, November 21, 2014

Flirting, Etiquette and the Anti-Flirt Club

Depiction of a Victorian Era,"lounge lizard" or "slick, dandified cake eater" flirting with two young women.

"Why do we flirt? Flirting is much more than just a bit of fun: it is a universal and essential aspect of human interaction around the world. Flirting is a basic instinct, part of human nature. This is not surprising: if we did not initiate contact and express interest in members of the opposite sex, we would not progress to reproduction, and the human species would become extinct. According to some evolutionary psychologists, flirting may even be the foundation of civilisation as we know it. They argue that the large human brain – our superior intelligence, complex language, everything that distinguishes us from animals – is the equivalent of the peacock’s tail: a courtship device evolved to attract and retain sexual partners. Our achievements in everything from art to rocket science may be merely a side-effect of the essential ability to charm." from Kate Fox for Social Issues Research Centre


The Anti-Flirt Club of Washington D.C.     

Charter members of the Washington D.C. "Anti-Flirt Club"
The Anti-Flirting Club began in the early '20s in Washington D.C, as a reaction against young women recieving unwanted attention from men, usually in "automobiles or in street corners." Apparently, just like today, flirting and harassment were pretty interchangeable in the 1920s.
Miss Alice Heighly was the Anti-Flirt Club President
Apart from establishing 'Anti-Flirt Week', the club also created a set of rules, or etiquette, to help young ladies avoid the "slick, dandified cake eaters" they might come across. The rules are as follows:

  • Don't flirt: those who flirt in haste oft repent in leisure.
  • Don't accept rides from flirting motorists—they don't invite you in to save you a walk.
  • Don't use your eyes for ogling—they were made for worthier purposes.
  • Don't go out with men you don't know—they may be married, and you may be in for a hair-pulling match.
  • Don't wink—a flutter of one eye may cause a tear in the other.
  • Don't smile at flirtatious strangers—save them for people you know.
  • Don't annex all the men you can get—by flirting with many, you may lose out on the one.
  • Don't fall for the slick, dandified cake eater—the unpolished gold of a real man is worth more than the gloss of a lounge lizard.
  • Don't let elderly men with an eye to a flirtation pat you on the shoulder and take a fatherly interest in you. Those are usually the kind who want to forget they are fathers.
  • Don't ignore the man you are sure of while you flirt with another. When you return to the first one you may find him gone.
"Flirting, and a too obtrusive manifestation of preference are not agreeable to men of sense." Marilyn Monroe gets flirtatious with Cary Grant, in "Monkey Business"

"Women reach maturity earlier than men, and may marry earlier—say (as an average age), at twenty. The injunction, "Know thyself," applies with as much emphasis to a woman as to a man. Her perceptions are keener than ours, and her sensibilities finer, and she may trust more to instinct, but she should add to these natural qualifications a thorough knowledge of her own physical and mental constitution, and of whatever relates to the requirements of her destiny as wife and mother. The importance of sound health and a perfect development, can not be overrated. Without these you are NEVER fit to marry.

Having satisfied yourself that you really love a woman—be careful, as you value your future happiness and hers, not to make a mistake in this matter—you will find occasion to manifest, in a thousand ways, your preference, by means of those tender but delicate and deferential attentions which love always prompts. "Let the heart speak." The heart you address will understand its language. Be earnest, sincere, self-loyal, and manly in this matter above all others. Let there be no nauseous flattery and no sickly sentimentality Leave the former to fops and the latter to beardless school-boys. Though women do not "propose"—that is, as a general rule—they "make love" to the men none the less; and it is right. The divine attraction is mutual, and should have its proper expression on both sides. If you are attracted toward a man who seems to you an embodiment of all that is noble and manly, you do injustice both to him and yourself if you do not, in some way entirely consistent with maiden modesty, allow him to see and feel that he pleases you. But you do not need our instructions, and we will only hint, in conclusion, that forwardness, flirting, and a too obtrusive manifestation of preference are not agreeable to men of sense. As a man should be manly, so should a woman be womanly in her love." From "How to Behave"by Samuel R. Wells, 1887