This page written circa 14 March, 2024.

Burlesque is a charming film. Characters kind and hard are developed, the plot has good progression and a clever save-the-day twist. The characters are simply intriguing to watch. Burlesque itself is a comic exaggeration, in this case with sexy overtones and intense costume. Our heroine starts innocent but hungry and ends up bold and happy.

"coy (adjective): marked by cute, coquettish, or artful playfulness" says the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Note the artful aspect is sufficient a concern as to be mentioned as a specific option. The Brittanica does not get into motive, saying "having a shy or sweetly innocent quality that is often intended to be attractive." Wordsmith offers a collaborative dictionary definition "Shrinking from approach or familiarity; reserved; bashful; shy; modest; -- usually applied to women, sometimes with an implication of coquetry," eschewing motive directly but emphasizing the flirtatious use with its implication of playfulness.

Why is shyness attractive?
Some shyness and modesty makes a person appear less likely to reject an approach. This is reinforced because artful coyness is an accepted positive signal. Shyness is associated with femininity. Shyness signals innocence which can be attractive. Shyness signals vulnerability, which attracts caring personalities (although predatory ones as well). Reticence makes people look more humble, not viewing themselves with too much pride or arrogance.

Penelope Keith said "Shyness is just egoism out of its depth." I liked that definition ever since I heard it because it described Toni so well; a woman unable to speak plainly what she wanted, but well able to get angry for its lack.

Sadie Stein wrote in The Paris Review "There are moments that change our lives. Sometimes big, conscious decisions, other times a word, a missed train, the last five minutes of a party. I can only remember one such, consciously. It was reading [that Penelope Keith quote]. Introversion is real, of course. For many people, shyness---or its cousin, social anxiety---feels like anything but a luxury, and renders a host of situations challenging. What is more, it feels less like egotism than a total subjugation of self." That 'subjugation of self' is what we might these days call 'loss of self esteem'.

Thus, if it is not an act, the coyness that attracts me is likely to bring with it a predisposition for loss of self esteem in the face of my linguistically robust manner. It has always been an open question as to whether I fancy 'crazy' women, or whether I drive women to neurotic condition. Turns out to be both, though we can still debate the extents of each.

There is a certain attitude I have; an impish relish in being provocative, having little respect for certain rules and laws. There is a wonderful song by Joni Mitchell called "The Jungle Line". It depicts a jazz club as wild and dangerous like the Africa from where the slaves came, hiding illicit activities underneath the various white societies above (jazz clubs tended to be in basements). My attitude and the song have a lot of "shuck & jive" to them. As Jethro Tull put it, "This game that we animals play is a winner". In these enlightened days, I imagine this stuff could cause harm if one's skin were thin.

I did not figure that coyness might lead to good outcomes only when artful. Joni's song has a line to the effect of "...will eat a working girl like her alive". Real shyness signals a problem to be overcome... before self esteem gets eaten alive.

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