In case you haven’t heard, in the lead-up to Christmas “sexpert” Eve Marx is promoting a new book on how to flirt. Getting women to pay US$14.95 for Read My Hips: The Sexy Art of Flirtation1 to teach us what should come naturally is quite an achievement! You might think that a former editor at Penthouse Forum and Swank magazines wouldn’t know a lot about romance, but her latest book is starting to fly off the shelves.

But as I read through it, I constantly found myself thinking, “That’s funny; my grandmother didn’t need to read this stuff.” Then again, my grandmother grew up in the 1940s and everything was different then, especially dating. She grew up in Latin America where, yes, men are notorious for being overtly romantic. Nevertheless, dating was different because men and women were different.

She tells me stories about how men actually pursued women. One of six sisters, she can’t remember a time when there wasn’t a young suitor serenading one of them or sprinkling rose petals on their front lawn. In stark contrast, today we have “sexperts” to teach us how to get men to ask us out on dates.
 
Before you call me a disgruntled single woman who hates men, relax, I’m not. I think men are great. In fact, I don’t blame them at all. I do, however, blame women like Ms Marx. The secret she shares with her readers is to be blatantly sexy. If that doesn’t scare him away, proceed even more aggressively! What happened to being charming, mysterious and captivating in order to get a man to notice you? That’s the way our grandmothers flirted with men and they managed to get married. In reality, if women were a little bit more like my grandmother and a little bit less like the women Ms Marx would like us to be, men would still be serenading us and throwing rose petals on the balconies — of the condos we own by ourselves!

Here’s some advice for the women who are reading this article right now. It’s perfectly OK for you to have your own career, to be independent and to still have a man pay for your dinners, every time he takes you out, not just on the first date. Enjoying your company, engaging in conversation with you and staring into your beautiful eyes all evening is a privilege. 

The problem today is that men have forgotten how lucky they are because women don’t demand to be respected. For instance, when talking about flirting attire, Ms Marx favours jeans "or any trousers for that matter" to make an aggressive sexual posture practicable. Frankly, I find advice like that to be insulting and offensive to any woman. Books like this don’t empower us, they degrade us.

Because women read and believe “sexperts” like Eve Marx, many have forgotten what real courtship entails. Most women today are quick to reach for their wallets when the waiter brings the cheque or, worse yet, jump into bed with a date because he paid for her filet mignon. Remember: it’s a privilege to spend time with you and you don’t owe him a thing!

Single people today have forgotten what dating is all about. The whole point is to get to know people and, more importantly, have fun with them! We’re so quick to get emotionally and, worse yet, physically involved that we expect exclusivity way too early. Women from my grandmother’s generation dated lots of men simultaneously. They actually allowed men to court them and then they chose the most suitable admirer to be their husband.

Nowadays, the roles seemed to be reversed. It’s not the women that are choosing but the men. Most women today are quick to throw themselves on the first available bachelor. The bachelors, in turn, have their pick of women who are quick to give them what they want, including a physical relationship with no commitment.

So, what’s the solution?

  • Remember to let him treat you like a lady but, first and foremost, act like one!
  • Socialise — a lot. Go to every party, reception and lecture you’re invited to. You never know where you’ll meet Mr Right or, at least, Mr Let Me Take You For A Nice Dinner Friday Night. Yes, it’s hard to meet good men but he’s not going to come knocking on your door.
  • Keep an open mind. Dr McDreamy may not approach you at the boring lecture, but perhaps the guy who does is intelligent, funny and really nice. Give him a chance! Let him take you for a drink. Don’t shoot him down immediately. Remember, have fun with him. Additionally, “Lecture Guy” may not be Mr Right but he just might introduce you to Dr McDreamy.
  • Take the time to get to know somebody. Before daydreaming about walking down the aisle with him, try building a friendship with him. He may have the right job or perfect look but he may not be the one for you. Dating different men allows you to have fun but also gives you the freedom to choose. Choose the one who is right for you.
  • Most importantly, find inner peace and happiness before you look for a mate. Really look within yourself and make sure you’re at a place emotionally, mentally and spiritually where you’re ready to open your heart to someone else. A man will not make your problems disappear. Being in a relationship takes a lot of hard work and effort. Make sure you’re ready to take on the responsibility and commitment.

And for our happily married women friends, please keep two things in mind. First of all, you may have found Mr Right but please keep an eye open for your single friends who are still looking. More importantly, you will be bringing up the next generation of Mr Rights and Dr McDreamys. Keep that in mind when you’re raising boys. Teach them how to be gentlemen. Teach them to respect women and appreciate their beauty. It all begins in the home.

As for Ms Marx, I do agree with her on several things. We concur that a woman should never leave home without wearing lipstick or well-manicured hands! My problem with her book is that she advises women to use blatant sex tactics in order to lure men into asking them out. In my grandmother’s generation, a woman was able to seduce a man with intelligent conversation and a feminine façade. A woman remained a mystery to a man and that was part of her allure. By courting her, he got to know her. With time, they decided, together, if they wanted to proceed further with the relationship.

There is hope for today’s men but it all depends on us women. We need to make the rules and set the boundaries. By following Ms Marx’s advice, a woman will find herself in a man’s bed before a first date even takes place. At that point, the man has no reason to pursue the woman or a relationship.

Hopefully our granddaughters will say, “ I can’t believe your generation had to read this stuff, Grandma!”

Guiomar Barbi is a staffer at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington DC. She also lived in Rome for three years and worked at the US Embassy to the Holy See.

Notes
(1) Eve Marx. Read My Hips: The Sexy Art of Flirtation. Polka Dot Press. November 2005. 252pp. ISBN 1593374569. US$14.95.