Saturday, February 12, 2011
Celebrating Valentine's Day in the New World!
Valentine's Day is just a day away but I want St. Valentine to come back. The world needs some serious love help if the recent claim proves correct that half of all men, especially the American kind have forgotten how to flirt. After all, the thing about the global village is that whatever happens in the "developed" world eventually reaches the "developing" world, in which if you hadn't noticed it - many happen to be.
Geographical borders no longer prevent anything - from Viagra, iPhone, iPad to a noxious bacterium - from leaping across seas, mountains and continents and taking root in climates where they might not otherwise flourish. Trends, fashions and fancies also reach us in due course, and when they do we're often not quite ready for them.
Take feminism for example. North Americans first awoke to this dogma in the early '60s. It grew organically from the frustrations of the post-war housewife, trapped in her suburban home with only a few new-fangled household gadgets and a horde of children to keep her company. The urge to break free from these confines took time to dawn on these women-as well as on the men who used to blow a kiss to them from the driveway before backing out the family station-wagon and heading for another day at the factory or office.
As the ideology of women's liberation gradually spread out, inspired by the writings and minds of leading women academics, writers and social activists of those days, it eventually reached the kitchens of millions of American housewives.
Today, Americans talk of a post-feminist society and men know all too well the cost of ignoring gender equality. One topical example is the fact the former President of the United States had to vigorously fight for his political life because of a sexual indiscretion that, during the pre-feminist era, would hardly have registered on the political Geiger counter.
When feminism finally arrived in the developing world during the 1980s through a few middle class academics, women had spoken about it before then but it seemed, at first, like an alien concept. And in many ways it was and still is to many folks in the developing world especially like Indians, Chinese, both women and men besides the political right wing and conservative religious outfits.
Indians and Chinese for example had not, and have not, lived through the various birth stages of this new way of thinking, and they received it like a FedEx package that had gone astray with all the assembly instructions intact. They sort of knew what to do with the contents; it's just that they're still not quite sure how to put the damn thing together. I know many Asians would disagree but it’s an undeniable fact.
So it was with keen interest that I learned some University researchers in the US have shown that 50 percent of all American men no longer know how to flirt with women. Flirting, the study claims, is a dying art because men are wary that it might lead to accusations of sexual harassment. Apparently social scientists have noted a same trend in other parts of western hemisphere.
One wonders how long it will be before this phenomenon fully engulfs Asia - if it ever will. Asians unlike their American and European counterparts seem much less inclined to succumb to new social conventions when it comes to women.
They still live in a traditional, macho society and most of their men have a sky high self-esteem (whether they deserve it or not) that is still quite full-bodied and intact. Ask women, especially single Indian women who try to go out socially in a club or bar, how often men hit on them. It's virtually impossible for a woman to sit alone at a pub in our country without some macho ego in a slick suit or a pair of tight jeans offering to buy her a drink and take her home.
The thing about flirting - and this is what Asian men just don't seem to understand - is that it's not meant to be a method of extracting sex from a woman alone. Flirting is about letting a woman know that you're attracted to her, not just for sexual reasons, but because you find her interesting.
Women will always be suspicious of flirts as long as the primary motive is selfish. Until men everywhere understand that sex is not the only thing women have to offer, women will just make if difficult for men and if they have to scare you in the process, so they will definitely. So come back St. Valentine and make us all celebrate a happy Valentines Day.