Conversations: flirting, sex and beauty
By: Fleur Kilpatrick
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Fleur Kilpatrick talks to people in parks, in mountains, in bedrooms – and out the back of museums – and records them speaking about gender, sex and beauty. Archer will be sharing some of her interviews online.
Fleur: Describe where we are.
Her: We’re in your bedroom, on your bed in your apartment. The curtains are closed. The bed is covered in clothes.
Fleur: I put some things away yesterday. So. Um…how do you flirt?
Her: I don’t know! I think this was the thing I just missed the class on. I was so busy at high school being good at school and doing extra-curricular activities and – and I just never – people I know figured out how to talk to boys and I just didn’t. I was friends with some boys, but we just did things like talk about Vivaldi and be in musicals together and awkwardly lust after each other but not be able to do anything about it.
There was a boy that went – that was in a high school near me and we sort of – would sort of flirt at each other awkwardly on MSN and then I remember he drove me home from a party or something. He walked me to my door, hugged me and then left and then later sent me a message saying, “Why didn’t we kiss?’ And I said, “Well because you – when you want to kiss somebody you kind of have to hug them for longer than one second. You’ve gotta kinda hold on for a bit.” And he was like, “Ahhh. Yeah. Right. Yeah.” And then we just never – nothing ever happened. He dated one of my friends and then – and I’ve never got better at that!
I got to uni and I was just like, “What are these things with penises?” I don’t know! I just…every time I’ve ended up hooking up with somebody or dating somebody or anything it’s been because I’ve just been really awkward and then somebody’s kissed me. And usually it’s like, “How did this happen? Why am I naked? You’re touching my boobs! What?” Yeah.
Fleur: How do you think you’re meant to flirt? Do you have a conceptual idea of what’s meant to happen?
Her: I feel like you are meant to sort of hold eye contact with people and smile at them in a sort of sexy way. You’re meant to be a little bit mean to them but not too mean.
Fleur: I think you’re meant to touch them like –
Her: Oh yeah, yeah! Apparently if you touch people…yeah.
Fleur: Just like, “Oh you’re so funny that I’m touching your thigh.”
Her: Yeah. And I – And I think I’ve experienced that as a person being flirted at where someone’s touched me and I’ve been like, “Oh! Yeah, that’s nice! Being touched by people’s pretty good, hey!” Yeah.
Fleur: What does it mean, do you think, to be really attractive?
Her: I don’t want to be one of those people who are like “Uh! I’m so unattractive!” But, you know, I’m not – I’m not conventionally – no one would ever look at me and be like, “What a beautiful person that is!” But for people who are quote-unquote ‘conventionally attractive’ – the sort of people that my brother dates! These women! They just look like they model for – like – Ripcurl! They’re just exactly what you’d expect an early-twenties boy to like. They’ve got long hair. They’re tiny! They’re always tall and have these legs that go on forever and boobs but not huge boobs and no hips to speak of and they just flounce about wearing anklets and tiny shorts and yeah. I wonder what it would be like, being the sort of person who would walk down the street and have people look at you and know that what they were thinking was, “That person’s attractive.” Not even in the way that women experience people being like, “You’re a woman, therefore I have the right to comment on your body”, but just someone being like, “Wow! What a babe.”
That knowledge! I wonder if that would fuck you up a bit! I think those beautiful people must find it really hard to age. To stop being that person.
I think we do this weird thing where we think that people don’t know what our bodies look like because we can’t see them from all angles all the time and so we sort of go, “Oh my God! If we have sex, they’ll know this about my body.” They kind of – they probably know already! And they still want to have sex with you.
Fleur: See I know this too! I know intellectually that there’s – I’ve thought back on and gone, “Did I judge that person’s body while I was…on it?” No! I just did the sex!
Her: I remember the first time I slept with someone who wasn’t a tiny, skinny, wizened man because they were an artist and they didn’t eat enough because hey, my life. I slept with someone who had a bit of a belly and I remember giving them head and looking up and being like, “Whoa! There’s a stomach in the way of the trajectory of where my eyes usually go”, but I wasn’t like, “Aw gross”, I was like, “That’s fun!”
When I’m having sex with a person, I don’t think I’m ever like, “We can’t do this position because then you’ll see my stomach.” I’m usually too busy being like, “Hey! Touching naked people!” And celebrating that! I’m proud of that fact. I’m really pleased that is part of my thought process. I’d really hate to be in the position of being frightened of someone else seeing my body. When I’m in the process of getting undressed I’m sometimes a bit like, “Uh! It’s happening!” But once I’m naked it’s like, “Well, they can see me and they’ve got an erection so it’s going to be fine!” It’s not like they’re making apologies or backing towards the door because I have a stomach and there are some stretch marks in my life. I feel like I’m glad that I’ve hit that point where I’m like, “You are fine with seeing me naked and you still want to put your penis in places. That’s great. Let’s just roll with that.”
Fleur Kilpatrick is a playwright, theatre director and arts commentator. Her work has been seen on stages across the country as well as in the podcast Audio Stage and at schoolforbirds.wordpress.com
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