American media creates an unfriendly tease culture, in contrast to a more inviting flirt culture.
The difference is rejection versus acceptance and affection.
Tease culture can be seen in TV, videos, magazines and pornography that presents women’s sexy bodies with unfriendly faces, often as haughty teases, above men. 'Haha, look at me, you can't have it.' This stimulates men sexually without a connection. Although the bodies are sexy in a female way, the emotional style is harder, more masculine, the attitude sometimes macho and angry. It’s not primarily about being sexual, it’s about the type of relationship between women and men implied. These images are a confusing mixture of advertising sexploitation, the “battle of the sexes” and changing identities for men and women.
Flirt culture media presents women communicating through the face: it is friendly, inviting, warm, receptive, gentle, more feminine. Body presentation may be more modest. Flirt culture aims to make a connection with the viewer. It does not imply that there is something unworthy or wrong with the viewer. Flirt culture varies from innocent to direct depending on which culture: Flirt culture may be more sexual (Latin American) or more conservative (most Asian countries). Both cultures are styles that can also be found within a single nation.
National cultures consists of general trends even though there are all kinds of men and women within each country. Culture is a social influence that does not fully reflect who individual women and men really are. And it’s not about men versus women: It’s about social influences that create beliefs that design the rules of the game for both sexes to lose or for both sexes to win.
Tease culture is often described as the "objectification" of women for the advantage of men, but there are actually no winners because it also devalues male emotions and sexuality while sabotaging connection between men and women.
Sexual responses are triggered in men at the expense of emotions and basic respect. Advertisements try to get men and women to buy through sexual associations and sometimes making us feel inadequate. In these images female sexuality is emotionally disconnected and instrumentalized to manipulate men.
When the female body is on a pedestal as the prize, male sexuality is seen as less valuable than female sexuality. Men are presented as wanting, even begging, and women are presented as having the power to give or deny it.
A common style in tease culture media is to pose with game faces that are not welcoming or affectionate. Aggressive body movements suggest anger at men, as if the body is a weapon. In real life, women acting in the tease culture way act hot and are not friendly; they can be often aloof, cold, dismissive, angry, controlling, and critical. Some are defensive and feel victimized, so they complain about attention from men, the “male gaze” and such. Many fear a male sexuality that has been demonized. Some are not so interested in flirting or don’t know how. There is a lack of receiving and giving in a feminine way to inspire and support men to be the strong, masculine men most women want.
Men can play an equal role in creating these responses in women. It’s a two way street. Men often lack the manners of easy going flirting, having grown up in this culture. Men are often awkward or nervous without good role models for relational skills--the media often presents men as stupid. So men get rejected for not being confident and knowing what to do, yet are still expected to initiate and lead in meeting and dating. The coldness and rejection often shuts men down emotionally and limits much feeling to sexual responses, which throws them back into porn or prostitution where they don't get rejected.
Some guys are programmed in stimulus and response manner around physical features and can't feel where she's at. They are less present with any woman. Some men treat women they meet online like live porn. Women report meeting a man for the first time online and opening up a Skype camera to see him naked or getting to that point quickly. These men are revved up sexually while shut down emotionally by pornography, tease culture media and women they have interacted with, so their feelings are channeled into sex.
The repression of men’s emotions has deep roots in traditional roles and deserves to be understood with compassion. Traditionally men are expected to put their emotions aside and perform to earn love, by proving themselves as providers, protectors and procreators. Male emotions are more restricted because the common man must not ask what he wants, but become a tool who sacrifices his body, heart and mind for work, which is mostly on behalf of women, children, the good of society, or simply those with wealth and power. Men are not trained to say, “I don’t feel like going down in that dirty mine or fighting that war.” They just do it because real men don’t whine. This influence is found within both tease and flirt cultures but with flirt culture there may be more appreciation for the sacrifices and performance of the male role.
Sometimes men are disrespected with common negative images. Dialogue on sitcoms, for example, often involve condescending women treating men like little boys and busting their balls. A woman visiting from Malaysia once asked me, “Why are women on TV always bullying the men?” There is shaming of men and male sexuality. Americans often take this for granted and can’t see it. There is lack of positive, respected male role models. In the words of Bob Dylan, “I’ve got nothing, Ma, to live up to.” Note the absence of the father. There is a crisis of male confidence.
There is a belief that men being masculine is abusive and that women being feminine is being a victim. Under this belief, being feminine makes women weak and too vulnerable to men. This contributes to women trying to be masculine because they believe that is where the power is, and acting macho, tough, and combative with men. Some women mistrust their own feminine because they have only seen a kind of feminine that was used as charms to manipulate men.
Some men become more feminine because they are ashamed to be male due to negative beliefs about men and bad role models. Other men becoming femininized by default without strong male role models. The feminized guy typically has the problem of being the “nice guy” even if he is raging with resentment in his quiet desperation within the friend zone.
Many men and women have reversed polarity: women become more masculine and men become more feminine. This can help to integrate the opposite side within, but it has been taken to an extreme. David Deida describes reverse polarity as, "There are too many wimps and ball busters."
With reverse polarity interaction between women and men can feel more unnatural and doesn’t flow--that's one reason some guys try to learn pick-up to make things happen. With masculinized women men have to be hyper masculine to create polarity. Being hyper masculine like the old fashioned macho heroes is harder and less desirable: seeming invulnerable, always in control, or always right.
A new trend is men and women creating for themselves a new more individually authentic masculine and feminine with equality. They can learn from flirt culture.
Flirt culture media has friendlier women’s faces that express affection for men. Women acting in a flirt culture way show more interested and can receive attention with grace even from men they don’t want. There is less anger. Conversations flow more easily as she is not pulling up so many messages in her brain to fear and mistrust men. She has feminine role models to be warm, spontaneous, generous, smiling and laughing. Flirty women give more compliments. They have cute expressions and it is fun to play with their faces by expressing appreciation and teasing them.
Feminine flirting is assertive, to quote a women from a flirt culture, the Philippines: “I don’t believe that love comes to those who wait. Today love comes to those who flirt.” Some women within tease cultures have also always flirted and many others are now consciously developing their feminine side. Tease culture women are chicken and don’t know their real power and value so they hold back because the are too insecure to connect. Flirt culture women can lay it on the line naturally and in fun.
Knowing the Feminine in Women—What It Did for Me
We are very sensitive to media exposures and social influences, for better or worse. I learned this when I choose influences consciously and experienced positive results.
There are pictures and videos of women acting like the kindest, feminine women that you might never knew existed. I used this as a visual therapy for inner transformation and the result was that women became more attracted to me in public and in my relationship. It helped me expect a different reality in which women can be open, inviting, and flirtatious. Then my presence helped support women to open up this way. It opens your heart and that's what women want to feel around you. If that sounds like a bunch of new age mumbo jumbo and shit chicks like to hear, think again.
Once I focused more on images of women being kinder and more feminine I got emotional knowing what I had been missing much of the time in our culture. I grew inside me a warm feeling, a more relaxed feeling that was not directly sexual and over-stimulating. Then I knew the feminine and was able to find more real women like that. I resonated with them in public and communicated silently with women just through appreciation.
Feminine energy creates a natural polarity that makes a man more masculine, which is easy because it is relative to the feminine. With feminine women interactions flow, she is receptive and in encourages you to relax and the next thing to say or do becomes natural. The feminine is soothing.
One day I watched some of my favorite videos and was very emotional. Then I walked into a health food store and the women who worked there who had seen me before reacted differently: their jaws dropped as they smiled and looked at me. I looked behind me to see who they were looking at and no one was there. Their excited giggling and flirting continued as I went through the check-out.
I have been noticed more, complimented, attracted to positive women, able to see and feel kind and feminine women, and communicate using energy. All of this made it easier to approach women and feel more deeply when talking to them or and spending time with them. A buddy of mine asked once how I can tell about this energy with women after I left him with the two women he chatted up that I felt were closed. He told me that 10 minutes later it fell flat. And this guy is pretty good with women, he can go up and talk to all kinds of women naturally. He just didn't see what I saw as quickly.
Many men from tease cultures cannot even see who a flirt culture woman is and receive her sweetness.When I show guys these videos they often cannot understand what is right in front of them. They can't find the tits or ass so there is no response. I generally have to show guys what to look for and lead them through it. Choosing visual social influences helps:
- Create attraction with women.
- Identify the friendly feminine and focus on your positive expectations of women.
- Bring out your masculine through polarity.
- Deepen your feelings rather than just sexual states.
- Experience and grow positive feelings about women in private without being nervous—like a healing meditation.
- Communicate energetically with feelings, silently.
- Replace pornography addiction and by pass of emotions.
- Be aware of social influences and the beliefs communicated in visual images.
Understanding Social Influences versus Blaming
It’s not about men versus women. It’s about social influences that mask who we really are. Realizing this can help to stop being mad at men or women, and stop being hyper protective of women and defensive about any criticism of female behaviors. Understanding social influences is about how both sexes contribute to systems that we are now co-creating.
We can become more aware of unconscious or taken-for-granted opinions and make conscious choices of beliefs that work for us and our relationships. Since many beliefs are held collectively as culture it affects everyone. There is no win-lose ultimately, the power struggle of valuing one over the other is lose-lose. That includes valuing the sexuality or vulnerabilities and suffering of one sex over the other. It’s either lose-lose or win-win for men and women.
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Paul Hess, Ph.D.
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