Adventures in (Anti)Feministory: Julius Fast presents Body Language
My parents have been in the process of moving, which means they've faced an onslaught of old photos, previously packed-away books and forgotten homemade crafts from years gone by. Among the findings is the 1970 gem, Body Language by Julius Fast. His most well known book, Body Language was on the New York Times Best Seller for 22 weeks after its initial publication and has remained in print since then. Read on to glean the most vital information included in Fast's pseudo-scientific pop psychology classic, including 'How to Tell the Girls Apart,' the formerly elusive answer to the question 'Is She Available?' and much, much more!
In the first chapter, Fast teaches us eager readers 'How to Tell the Girls Apart':
Allen was a small-town boy who had come to visit Ted in the big city. One
night, on his way to Ted's apartment and a big cocktail party, Allen
saw a lovely young brunette walk across the street ahead of him and
then start up the block. Allen followed her, marveling at the explicit
quality of her walk. If ever Allen had seen a nonverbal message
transmitted, this was it!
I just hate it when I'm on my way to a party and then I see a hot brunette and I decide to start following her and the next thing I know, I've walked a mile in the opposite direction of my friend's apartment.
He followed her for a block, realizing that the girl was aware of him, and
realizing too that her walk didn't change. Allen was sure this was a
Yes Allen, because walking down a city street alone = displaying romantic interest in the strange man who is following you.
Finally, at a red light, Allen summoned up his courage and catching up to the
girl, gave her his pleasantest smile and said, "Hello."
To his amazement she turned a furious face to him and through clenched
teeth said, "If you don't leave me alone I'll call a cop." Then as the
light changed, she churned off.
Allen was stunned and scarlet with embarrassment. He hurried on to Ted's
apartment where the party was in progress. While Ted poured him a drink
he told him the story and Ted laughed. "Boy, you got the wrong number."
Golly! Poor Allen. I guess he found out the hard way that women in the 'big city' don't like to be stalked. Hey Allen, at least she wasn't carrying mace.
"But, hell, Ted--no girl at home would walk like that unless--unless she was asking for it."
All together now -- "rape myth!"
"This is a Spanish-speaking neighborhood. Most of the girls--despite outward appearances--are very good girls," Ted explained.
"You're so silly Allen! I know they look like sluts, but really they're not. On the contrary, they speak Spanish."
Oh my. Cultural insensitivity, racism, sexism and a big ol' rape myth all in one page!
What Allen didn't understand is that in a culture, such as that of many
Spanish-speaking countries, in which girls are chaperoned and there are
strict codes of social behavior, a young girl can safely flaunt her
sexuality without fear of inviting trouble. In fact, the walk that
Allen took as a come-on would be considered only natural, and the
erect, rigid posture of a proper American woman would probably be
considered graceless and unnatural.
Here in 'Merica, young girls who flaunt their sexuality are clearly inviting trouble. Good thing Allen finally made it to the party after that embarrassing encounter. Let's see how he's doing now that he's around the English-speakin' ladyfolk.
Allen circulated through the party and slowly forgot his humiliation.
As the party was breaking up, Ted cornered him and asked, "See anything you like?"
"That Janet," Allen sighed. "Man, I could really go for that--"
Wait--is Allen talking about a woman or an entree?
"Well, swell. Ask her to stay. Margie's staying too, and we'll have dinner."
"I don't know. She's just--like I couldn't get to first base with her."
"No. She's had the 'hands off' sign out all evening."
"But Janet likes you. She told me."
Bewildered, Allen said, "Then why is she so--so--I don't know, she just
looks as if she didn't want me to lay a finger on her."
"That's Janet's way. You just didn't get the right message."
"I'll never understand this city," Allen said still bewildered, but happy.
As Allen found out, in Latin countries girls may telegraph a message of
open sexual flirtation, and yet be so well chaperoned that any sort of
physical "pass" is almost impossible. In countries where the
chaperoning is looser, the girl will build her own defenses by a series
of nonverbal messages that spell out "hands off." When the situation is
such that a man cannot, within the rules of the culture, approach a
strange girl on the street, a girl can move loosely and freely. In a
city such as New York where a girl can expect almost anything,
especially at a cocktail party, she learns to send out a message saying
"hands off." To do this she will stand rigidly, cross her legs demurely
when sitting, cross her arms over her breasts, and use other such
The point is that for every situation there must be two elements to body
language, the delivery of the message and the reception of the message.
Had Allen been able to receive the messages correctly in terms of the
big city he would have been spared the embarrassment of one encounter
and could have avoided much of the uncertainty of the other.
What is it with these city women? The lovely brunette didn't like being stalked, even though she walked real sexy-like. Janet wouldn't make out with Allen, but really she wants him. The moral for all the small-town het gents out there? 1.) Ladyfolk are darn hard to figure out, especially in a complicated place like The Big City. 2.) It is not socially acceptable to approach a woman on the street. 3.) Even if a woman at a cocktail party seems like she doesn't want to remain in the same room as you, she probably wants to bone you. Asap. You just don't know how to read her body language yet. Which means...you need more Julius Fast wisdom!
Have you ever found yourself at a party, wondering if the woman you've been eyeing is available? You've made note of her unadorned ring finger and she seems unattached, but how can you be sure? Refer to Chapter 7, 'The Language of Love' and meet Mike:
Mike is a ladies' man, someone who is never at a loss for a girl. Mike can enter a party full of strangers and within ten minutes end up on intimate terms with one of the girls. Within half an hour he has cut her out of the pack and is on his way home with her--to his or her place, depending on which is closer.
Mike is not particularly good looking. He's smart enough, but that's not his attraction. It seems that Mike almost has a sixth sense about him. If there's an available girl Mike will find her, or she will find him.
What does Mike have?
A clean bill of health and a penchant for cooking? A reputation for mind-blowing cunnilingus talents? Jeepers, I'm dying to know what it is that Mike has!
Well, if he hasn't looks or brilliance, he has something far more important for this type of encounter. Mike has an unconscious command of body language and he uses it expertly. When Mike saunters into a room he signals his message automatically. "I'm available, I'm masculine. I'm aggressive and knowledgeable." And then when he zeroes in on his chosen subject, the signals go, "I'm interested in you. You attract me. There's something exciting about you and I want to find out what it is."
"Oh, hey Mike. I perceive based on your body language that you are interested in and attracted to me. I also perceive that you know there is something exciting about me. You're right. However, before we go any further with this, I need to know your political affiliation, your feelings on reproductive health care, whether you would self-identify as a feminist, and whether you would consider yourself more of a 'dog person' or a 'cat person.'"
Watch Mike in action. Watch him make contact and signal his availability.
See Mike. Mike is a player. See Mike play.
We all know at least one Mike, and we all envy him his ability [sic]. What is the body language he uses?
When Mike leans up against a mantel in a room to look around at the women, his hips are thrust forward slightly, as if they were cantilevered, and his legs are usually apart. There is something in this stance that spells sex.
Mike himself explained how he proceeded after this. "I size up the women, the ones who want it. How? It's easy. By the way they stand or sit. And then I make my choice and I catch her eye. If she's interested she'll respond. If not, I forget her."
Wow. Mike knows how to identify the women who want 'it.' But sometimes, contrary to logic, the women who want 'it' are not interested and thus, do not respond, at which point Mike forgets them.
Mike moves in on a woman. When he has made signal contact, when his body language gets the message of his availability across, his next step is physical invasion, but physical invasion without touch.
He cuts into the woman's territory or body zone. He comes close enough for her to be uneasy, and yet not close enough for her to logically object. Mike doesn't touch his victim needlessly. His closeness, his intrusion into her territory, is enough to change the situation between them.
Suddenly the woman in whom Mike is interested has become his victim!?
Then Mike carries his invasion even further by visual intrusion as they talk. What they say really doesn't matter much. Mike's eyes do far more talking than his voice. They linger on the woman's throat, on her breasts, her body. They linger sensuously and with promise. Mike touches his tongue to his lips, narrows his eyes, and invariably the woman becomes uneasy and excited. Remember, she's not just any woman, but that particular susceptible woman who has responded to Mike's opening gambit. She has returned his flattering attentions and now she is too deep to protest.
So now Mike is gawking at the victim/susceptible woman's chest and it's too late for her to 'protest' because she's been talking with him all of five minutes.
And anyway, what could she protest against? Just what has Mike done? He hasn't touched her. He hasn't made any suggestive remark. He is, by all the standards of society, a perfect gentleman. If his eyes are a bit too hot, a bit too bold, this is still a matter of interpretation. If the girl doesn't like it she has only to be rude and move off.
Brilliant! If you don't go for Mike's clever, clever tactics, you can just peace out and be labeled a bitch...which for some of us, may not be such a bad thing.
Whenever I see bits of vintage sexism such as this, I'm tempted to brush them off as outdated and irrelevant. However, in many ways, we really haven't come as far as we often think. Though a book like Body Language may not be as much of a hit today as it was in 1970, myths about gender and sexuality pervade our society in subtle and everyday ways. Still, I believe that we are making slow but steady progress and moving away from the ridiculous gender roles reflected in Allen and Mike's adventures.
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