By Shannon McClain, Guest Columnist

There is a general assumption that when two people are flirting, it means they like one another as more than friends. However, there are too many variables for this assumption to always be true for every case.

Often used as a way of expressing one’s own interest in another and or determining said other’s interest, flirting has become an essential part of the prelude to relations of some kind. These relations can range from long-term dating to casual sex.

Flirting is too subjective for anyone to have 100 percent accuracy in detecting it. Sometimes one or both of the parties are misreading the other’s actions as flirting.

Sometimes, one or both don’t even realize their actions could be construed as flirting. Sometimes an individual’s personality is flirtatious and he or she doesn’t even think about it meaning anything.

For example, a person’s “flirtatious” actions could really have just been meant as friendly.

Despite the subjectivity of flirting, we still perceive it as an indicator of irrefutable interest. Yet, there is a double standard when it comes to a woman flirting versus a man flirting.

With women, there can be a kind of blaming or assumption by both sexes that a woman should not flirt if she is not interested in the man.

If she doesn’t want something to come of her flirting, then she is told by both men and other women she should change her behavior. She is told she must stop for fear of leading the man on.

To my knowledge, in the man’s case, even if he is flirting just as much as the woman and neither want anything to come of it, no one tells him to change his behavior — at least not to the same degree others tell women to change.
While men may experience this, I do not think that it occurs to the same extent as it does with women. I am writing from my personal experience on something that I have noticed in a particular situation, that is, the female perspective in relations between men and women.

This disparity between the sexes when it comes to flirting goes back to the fact that we are sustaining a victim-blaming society.

We ask, “what was the girl wearing?” or “how was she acting?” or “was she coming on to him?” instead of  “what was going on in her head?”

Instead of asking about or speculating on her mindset, we ask or speculate on whether or not the man had a reason to think he had the right. We ask the wrong questions not only with rape, but with flirting.

It is not my intention to provide an excuse for women to flirt without consequences, nor am I suggesting that flirting never has any meaning or purpose, but it is certainly something to think about.

Of course flirting is flirting, and that is how we communicate our interest in one another, but don’t be so quick to jump to assumptions about a person’s interest just because that person is flirting with you.


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