15 November 2010

On Seduction and Modesty


Becoming teen models may be considered the triumph of feminism. As we glance through the gossip magazines, we should bear in mind that this profession offers substantial female confidence. Instead of regarding their bodies as areas of potential shame, women are finally able to display their physical candour and identities through various styles of bikinis and lingerie, mitigating the tension of the equality between men and women. However equal they may get, feminism is in violation of the fundamental law of seduction, forcing us to give away a vital ingredient of love, namely, romance.

Seduction is an art that is never easy to master. The irony is that it seems easiest to seduce those we are least attracted to instead of the ones we actually like, because the ones we desire elicit in us a sense of inferiority as compared to the perfections we have located in our beloved. What makes seduction difficult is that it lies not in revealing our character as a whole, far from offering a sense of intimacy, it is founded on the display of our finest qualities, because the desirable versions of ourselves are often not ours to summon at will. But how may we carefully administer the correct dosage of our admirable virtues? How can we ever be sure this or that virtue may appeal to our beloved?

The usual solution, and often an effective one, is to be modest. But as long as modesty stems from our crippling sense of inferiority, we often appear to be extremely reserved, and on some occasion, have the need to lie. Hence the experience of seduction is inevitably bound up with that of an actor. It’s because we need to take on a self that is not entirely our own in order to seduce the angelic face we happen to be dining with. All of a sudden, we are stripped of a sense of individuality and reminded of the anthropological wisdom that we are all social animals, that our existence is critically dependent on the others.

But what does it mean to be modest? One common answer often comes from fashion. But it is often an ambiguous one. The traditional view of how to modestly dress aims to unearth the desirable parts of skin textures yet cover some of the most intimate parts to assure masculine blindness until one is, perhaps, granted intimate access to one of the most sensitive and softest tissues among our sensory organs. To be modest is therefore to temper our modern need to be nude. The evolution of fashion, however, suggests there is no proper distinction between nudity and modesty today. What is modest in women's fashion constantly involves with the active participation of a desirable form of nudity. Wearing bikinis and lingerie get on fashion runways as much as those who conform to the traditional dressing code.

Of course, modesty suggests far more than that. Aside from fashion, we may also need to be modest in our manners and behaviours. As for a man, besides a constant need to display his wit and humour, he may need to suppress his usual tendency to swear and engage into conversations regarding pornography and a rather superficial appreciation of feminine physical beauty, and instead be drawn to offer fine knowledge of various types of wine and the like. Whilst for a woman, she may refrain from being far too outspoken, though occasionally may be permitted to ventilate bits and pieces of her intelligence, and suggesting a belief in the openness in sex. How could one be oblivious to the fact that men are highly deluded by the concept of virginity.

This leaves no room for modern teens in Hong Kong who aspire to spend their nights in bed as often as eating meals, change partners as often as they change underwear, and speak with an ardour as vulgarly as those from the working class. The current trend of acclaiming feminine identity through becoming teen models therefore risks harbouring an opposite sentiment that does away the romantic conception of love and inspiring an unfair neglect of the merits of being reserved and modest. Not only it ignores the vital role seduction has to play before embarking on a romantic journey, it also renders love impossible, because many are seduced just because of the absurdly reserved behaviours mentioned. Small wonder why Hong Kong is a loveless city, let alone the fact of it being unromantic.

Perhaps it’s time to readjust the values advocated by feminism. The limits of feminism make a case for the impossibility of romantic love and seek to destroy some of the best qualities possessed solely by women. One of the best parts of civilisation lies not in promoting the equality of both sexes, but instead in how to express their inequality in a desirable, democratic way.

W

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