In these days of fetish social networks and online dating sites, it can be easy to browse an individual’s page and learn pretty much any detail you want to obtain. But in the days before easy to access “hook-up” sites, the information had to be subtle enough to hide from the squares but still be out in the open. Instead of writing your sexual desires on a tee shirt, you needed a code. This is where the term flagging came into play.
The nonverbal art of flagging can be an eloquent way of flirting. To those who don’t know the code, a “flag” is a colored handkerchief worn either on the left or right side to convey the owner’s preference, or intent. Those versed in the color code can start picking up cues well before any conversation even starts. Like any code, it is best to learn it’s history to really appreciate it.
Flagging began around the 1970’s primarily in the gay male cruising scene. An easy way to be open about your sexuality, but still remain under the radar of homophobic onlookers. This code includes primarily colored bandanas in a crayola colored assortment, each with a specific meaning. A multitude of colors have grown, including patterns and different fabric choices, expanding on the those original themes.
Flagging has expanded out into the kinky community, and also opened up for women to be involved. But for many feminine women, the thought of having to stick to a hanky in the back pocket just didn’t work for them. Most pencil skirts don’t even have rear pockets. Flagging has begun to evolve once again. For femmes this means opening up choices other than just the hanky in the back pocket, which can come across as a more masculine fashion. Variations include rosette pins, barrettes made from hankies, and braided bandana fabric in the form of bracelets. A simple and inexpensive way of femme flagging can be through nail enamel. Applying the flagging color to talons is a great semi-permanent flag. You can also include more than one color to indicate multiple codes on either the right, or left hand. If you are just flagging one color, adding it as an accent color to the ring finger can be chic. Though it is a bit of a fashion trend recently, so you may have to ask some crucial questions before assuming the accent color’s meaning.
At fetish events it is simple and socially acceptable to just approach someone and ask deeply personal questions about their preferences. However, at a professional conference this would be quite taboo and perhaps insulting. I personally love flagging at conferences for this very reason. It is a way I can attend vanilla events but be able to find those kinksters hidden in the crowd. There is something very alluring about noticing those hidden signs when no one else knows.
Now that you’ve learned a little more about the growing world of femme flagging, I encourage you to go out experiment with color.