An ode to the corporate life which has now become an integral part of more than 62% of the urban population and the dilemma faced by a common Indian girl who has started her career.

“I think we need to go deeper and more intense”, said Suzanne’s manager, flirting with her.

She wanted to ignore the innuendo and concentrate on the project at hand. “It will require a lot of effort from both of us,” she says with a sideways glance at her manager while sipping at her coffee sitting beside him.

He glances back at her and makes eye contact with her, gazes down to her mouth and back to her eyes.

She immediately looks down and squirms in her chair uncomfortably. Okay! She shouldn’t be playing this game further; she would be skating on thin ice. Her manager is married, but that doesn’t stop him from flirting with Suzanne. She had a way of beguiling any man just with her smile; he was like a helpless puppy around her. Being a tomboy of the team she considered healthy flirting, a sport, at which she excelled as well.

“But it’s innocent flirting from my end.  He is my manager and I find him pretty hot! Plus, I have no intentions of wreaking his marriage.” she later tells me.

“I know you are playful in a benign way but you need to restrain yourself. All women are flirts, but some are restrained by shyness, and others by sense,” I advise her. “This manager of yours may be married but that doesn’t stop one from flirting.  Usually people who are married and flirting consistently have underlying marital problems. About 70% of married men admit to cheating on their wives and 2/3rd of the wives are not aware of their husband’s affair! Flirting is like the smell of the forbidden fruit and a step for temptation to creep into your heart, combine this with the distance in marriage plus opportunity and you get infidelity with the first bite.”

“ I think it’s more an effective tool for women to use when they need to be assertive but also want to be liked,” Suzanne says completely disregarding my point “I’ll narrate one story which may prove my point here.” and she went on.

“A girl Maria and I joined this office together. Being flirty and friendly I share good camaraderie with my colleagues.  Alongside being hard working, I am playful, trying to keep the spirits going. I also make it a point to give compliments in a sincere fashion. Like if someone were to help me in my work, I will make it a point to add a genuine compliment and say “If only everyone were as helpful as you, the world would’ve been a better place.” By this, I would ensure that they will not hesitate in helping me next time as their male ego is well fed. On the other hand Maria is more of an assiduous worker when compared to me and gets down to nitty-gritty every time. She interacts with everyone but in a more formal, professional way. I can say I have been more successful on the career front when compared to her, with 3 promotions in a year and a half while she has had just 1 in the same amount of time. Not to compare, but yes, just to prove the merits of healthy flirting.”

corporate flirting Harmless Flirting

“Diverging away from the office scenario, I can present one more incident that happened to me at a train station and could happen to any woman travelling alone. On my way back home after shopping at a mall I happened to encounter a few hoodlums at the station. I was alone except for an old man at the far corner who was defenseless. The taller ruffian of the 3 sat beside me and starts trying to touch my hand while the other two stand towering in front. I was petrified beyond reasoning and suddenly the Delhi rape scene flashes in my mind. I am determined not to be a rape victim and instead of displaying anxiety I hold on to my cool casual self, turn to him and give him my brightest smile. That kind of bemuses him and I take this as an opportunity and ask him if he is interested in me. He describes me in a few cheap indescribable words. I tell him he is pretty hot himself, though he looked like an ass with a shabby dark unshaven pockmarked face with a potbelly. This puts a cockeyed smile across his face and I could almost feel the bile rising to my throat. I was just trying to buy some time till I could find an escape route. He then holds my wrist and I was so nervous, I could have peed in my pants. I touched his arm with my free hand and said he had a good physique and asked him if he hits the gym, when I knew he would have never seen it even in his accidental dreams. I somehow managed to keep the conversation going, while the other two were as restless as the ripples. He asks me to come with him and stands up still holding my wrist in his hands. I can hear the train pull up and I pretend as though I am heading his way with him. People start rushing out of the train and I find this an opportunity and look around and find a young group of men with ID cards and consider them a safe option and scream as “RAHUL!!!” as loud as possible upon. Once I’ve grabbed enough attention I wriggle free from his hold and start pacing towards the group; the thugs stand still staring at me while I walk away with the group of working guys, pretending I know one of them. What a narrow escape that was. I know this may not always work but when I was left with no other option I used my only weapon in such crisis.”

Her confession put me in deep thought. I remember a quote by the famous Helen Gurley Brown, former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan magazineGood girls go to heaven, Bad girls go everywhere. In a time where women were taught to play it safe, Helen did some risky, a.k.a. “bad,” things which ultimately led to her amazing success. How can I fail to see Suzanne’s point? But as a well wisher and her best friend I warn her not to get involved with a lot of men especially when they are married. She has a quick retort ready.

“The whole point is- I am single. It is legal for me to flirt with any man I wish to, regardless of him being committed, married or GAY” she stands up and gives a short animated speech. I roll my eyes over the gay part and she falls back on the couch giggling at her own statement.

By Priya Ravinder

Also See:
Bias against Bollywood’s ‘Bad’ Girls
Patriarchy and Us: Stop Tying to be the ‘Perfect One’

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