I know I’m offering a controversial view, but hear me out.

For as long as we can remember, men have generally played a more ‘active’ role in the dating game. Traditionally it’s been the man’s role to do the picking up, the pursuing, the asking out, the picking of the restaurant, the paying, the driving home, the initiating of physical contact, etc.

I know it’s not every case, but what we need to understand is that a lot of men have been brought up believing that it’s on them to make the move when it comes to dating.

It’s on them to have the perfect pick up lines, to be charming, to be funny, to have the ‘balls’ to go up to a woman and ask her out. And to repeat it all over again as many times as necessary. It’s a hustle, and it’s no surprise why there are tons of books, videos, and courses that teach men how to pick up women.

A woman’s role in all of this is to either show interest or not. And even that in itself is far from straightforward. Some women play ‘hard to get’ as a kind of test before showing interest. Some women like to see a man ‘work for it’. Some women do not want to depict themselves as being into sex, and therefore let men take the lead while they go with the flow.

I know I definitely have been all of those women at some point or the other, and I’m sure other women reading this can relate.

I have also been in similar situations to the young woman who went on the date with Ansari.

Obliging when my hand was led to their crotch.

Not saying no when things got too rough.

Not pushing their hands off me.

Not asking them to stop.

Not leaving.

The reality is – although we would love for men to be more attuned to our feelings, our body language, our ‘cues’ – they aren’t and they probably will never be. And we can’t rely on men’s ability to decode what we want. We have to actually tell them.

Now, please note I am NOT referring to the cases where women have explicitly said No and were ignored. That’s a whole different issue that I’m not going to address here.

What I’m addressing here is: if a man thinks he must hustle and pull out all his tricks to ‘win a woman over’, and that a woman’s lack of interest could mean she’s playing hard to get (or whatever else), that man is going to assume this is just how things are. He’s going to think it’s just how the chasing game works. And he’s going to keep pursuing.

And let’s face it, us women have not made it easy for men to ‘read’ us. With our saying one thing and meaning another, our fear of appearing needy, our fear of losing ‘power’ over men. As a woman, I’m guilty of all of that too.

When I read what happened on that date, it hits close to home for me. Younger me anyway. As I grew older, I learned to communicate more clearly to my dates.

I said things like:

“Just so you know, you’re not coming home with me tonight.”

“Sorry, I’m not feeling it yet. Please don’t try to kiss me.”

“No, I’m not going to do that.”

It was awkward to say those things, but it is the only way to get my message across.

So, to the woman who went on a date with Ansari, I feel you. I’ve been there a few times myself. It sucks to feel like you’ve been objectified and violated. I too have shed tears over those shitty nights.

But painting Ansari in a bad light is not going to make it better.

What’s going to make it better is for women to develop the courage to speak up, to set boundaries, to be clear what we’re okay with, and what we’re not okay with.

It’s not easy, but no one else can do it for us.

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