Monday 11 December 2017

The tools of seduction

1 le regard

In no other country would a serious newspaper like Le Figaro take a poll asking men how often they stop and look after women in the street.

For the French, "le regard" has almost mythical status. It's not seen as socially retarded to stare, more the beginning of a visual conversation, a way of showing that you appreciate beauty and might just be a bit of a seducer: something that in France is considered a basic adult competency.

2 le sourire

Or rather the lack of it. Like wine and food, the French take the flirting very seriously, and smiles must be tactically deployed, not goofily apologetic, disarming grins.

Smiles are loaded with meaning: they create intimacy, a strong hint of sexual frisson. Which explains why they don't smile back at tourists.

3 l'ambiguïté

"How seductive you are," Michel Piccoli tells Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour. "Your compliments are too subtle," is her sarcastic reply.

Flattery like that is anti-seduction, too obvious, too needy. The goal of seduction is not to make a woman feel seduced. That would be far too straightforward.

It is to make her feel, troublée, one of those simple French words whose meaning is anything but.

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