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[personal profile] jamesq
I sometimes wish there was some kind of class where young people are taught how to flirt/communicate desire/take a no or a yes positively. I'm not sure if sex ed is the right place for it, but I feel like it's something that the Scandinavian countries probably already do. Who knows.

What's prompting this is a reddit thread of guys who missed hints from gals who were interested in them. It's a little sad because I think that's a lot of missed happiness. In the Reddit thread, someone pointed out that this wouldn't be an issue if women weren't so coy about these things. And of course, they're coy for a damned good reason - being sexually forward carries significant risk. As the saying goes, when asking people out, men risk humiliation and rejection, women risk rape and murder. And of course, slut-shaming is still a thing.

Significantly, for all of life I have hung out among geeks and nerds - a fairly socially awkward bunch. It's not like the men were doing much pursuing either. Looking back on my days in Grey Mountain Holt, it was significant for the amount of relationships that were not happening. This was a group with a common interest that went from a club to basically being a primary social circle for many of the participants, with a roughly 50/50 split gender-wise, and everyone was in their late teens to early twenties. We should have been pairing off left, right, and centre. Relationships weren't nonexistent, but they were rare enough to be noted when they happened.

I certainly wasn't doing any asking. I generally went with the be funny, and hope I don't come off as obnoxious or creepy. Often I failed. Still, a few women expressed interest. Mostly, not women I was interested in. I had no idea how to pursue, what to do if I was pursued, or how to deflect unwanted pursuers in anything other than the most pathetic passive-agressive way. It was a cluster-fuck of suck.

Now most people manage to maneuver through this and learn what skills there are in late adolescence. Still, a lot of people don't, which is why I think it would be a useful topic to teach formally. There's some problems though, and I'm not sure how to address them.

First, the moot point that, if this course existed when I was younger, I would have avoided it, even if it would have done me a world of good. I avoided gym class throughout high school, mostly because there was a dance component and the thought of it left me a quivering anxious wreck. I eventually took a continuing education gyn course over summer so that I could graduate. I kept it secret from my parents. Hell, the idea of asking women out fills me with dread now, though I have worked up the courage to do it on rare occasions, never successfully.

Leaving aside my personal drama, the bigger issue is that such a course has the potential to be a shit show of patriarchy, slut-shaming, and misogyny. Would you trust your high school gym teacher to be able to teach this stuff without dropping into "Boys: get all the pussy you can or you're not a man. Girls: keep your filthy knees together"? Plus, being awkward in the course would be fodder for bullies.

Currently, there is such a hunger for this course, that Pick-up Artist (PUA) culture has begun providing it as a secondary reason for existing. Unfortunately, the few good ideas they have (hygiene, attractive presentation, make your desires known) is completely ruined by their awful philosophy (don't take no for an answer, pester women who are clearly not interested, lie, no such thing as date rape).

Maybe not having the course is a better idea? I like to think it's possible to come up with a decent lesson plan. I hope so, since trial and error isn't that great. Can't we do better than that?

I do know a person who teaches a lechery course in the SCA, which is basically a course in flirting. For a one hour class in how to be more gallant than goofus in an SCA setting, it's pretty good. I think that's as good a proof-of-concept for the idea as any. And as I said at the beginning, this sounds like the sort of thing that would be taught in Scandinavian schools.

I'm going to think on what I would have personally wanted out of such a course. That's a first step towards articulating how it work. Difficulty: That's going to be like trying to figure out what I think would make a good brain surgery class.

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