How do you seduce a man with class and dignity? Should we wait until men approach us IRL or online? Do men like to be picked up?
— via Dede Craig King.
This question suffers from the vestiges of a time when female sexuality was not only oppressed, but punished. While we have made a lot of progress in this arena, slut-shaming still exists and the labels “slut,” “whore,” “tramp,” “easy,” and so on are still largely used as a weapon against women.
(I don’t want to minimize prude-shaming or the fact that sexual shaming also happens to men, but in the interest of space, I’m going to limit this response to the question that was asked, which focuses on women.)
When Sigmund Freud wrote “Where such men love they have no desire and where they desire they cannot love,” he basically cleaved the woman in half. To be deserving of love, a woman cannot be sexual. To enjoy sex, a woman must forfeit love. This notion didn’t entirely come from Freud, of course — women of a certain class had long since given up their claim to sexuality in exchange for some of the privilege that men of equal standing enjoyed — but Freud’s influence can’t be ignored here, either.
Though we have made some definite progress in a direction where women can be sexual and be loved, we do still occasionally run straight into the artifacts and revivals of this mentality. The most egregious, I think, is The Rules, a franchise that purports to teach women how to “catch a man” by abusing him and denying him — because men love “working hard” for things and if he has to “work hard” for a woman, then he’ll obviously cherish her more than a woman who makes it “too easy” for him.
The idea that men are this monolith, this race of simple creatures devoid of personality that can be manipulated into a loving and meaningful relationship by forcing them to survive a sort of hero’s journey at a woman’s feet, is as offensive as the techniques pick-up artists put forth about how to “score” with women. If you strip the gender identifiers and pop psychology, the tactics aren’t really that different in how grossly they ignore the person in favor of generalization.
The simple answer to the question of how to sexually approach a person depends entirely on the person being approached. It has very little to do with whether the person is male or female and everything to do with whether he or she is interested and sufficiently comfortable with you to receive such an overture.
Mileage will vary, and though pop psych would have us believe that all men would love to have a woman jump all over him saying she wants his cock right now, this isn’t always the case. The moment the person approaching lets go of generalizations (whether they are related to gender, race, age, etc.), that’s the moment the approach becomes “dignified.” Dignity, to me, is not about how you dress or how you speak, but rather that you see other people as human beings — individual human beings who have their own opinions, ideas, and desires (which may or may not include you in a sexual or even platonic sense).
In meatspace, body language can reveal a great deal. Online, you’re mostly left to determine interest based on the frequency of interaction and the depth such interaction has reached. Neither is easy, but if you’re respectful and don’t act like you’re entitled to their space, their time or their person (or like they should be grateful to be on the receiving end of your attempt), chances are that even if they don’t desire your attention, they won’t be too put off by the overture.
And what’s the overture? If you are into him (or her) and feel he (or she) is into you, there is no reason why you shouldn’t offer to get a drink that night, go to a gallery opening later that week, have dinner over the weekend — whatever. If the person is not in your time zone, you might suggest taking the conversation off a thread or the public space and into IM, or a Hangout, and so on.
The important thing, you’ll find, isn’t how something starts, but rather that it starts.
If one takes a moment to examine the original thread posted by Craig King, they’ll see the many comments from men — comments with no consensus. That thread is a perfect example of how different one man is from the next. Men are not “from Mars,” and all alike. They’re people.
We need to stop talking about men and women as homogeneous populations and buying in to toxic pop psychology and learn to approach them as individuals. Until we can do that, we won’t be able to do anything with much dignity or “class” — no matter how well-dressed, eloquent, educated we purport to be.Ã¯Â»Â¿
Header image by Dan Queiroz.