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In the world of dating, men are scared, too. It’s time for women to step up.

In an ultimate and unfunny irony, women are still leaving everything to men during this #metoo period of charged and passionate feminism.

Ask me before kissing me.

Ask me before flirting with me.

Ask me if I want sex.

Approach me this way or that way.

Interpret my cues.

Only talk to me if I look interested.

Keep talking to me if I continue to seem interested, but stop talking to me if I don’t.

Why are feminist women in the year 2018 still navigating the dating scene as if they’re studying dog-eared pages of that antiquated, meek-making book The Rules?

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What’s with the vice-like grip on the passive role?

Women feminists — and by this I mean women who subscribe to the idea that men and women are deserving of equal respect, equal pay, etc. — are either willfully resisting or are genuinely blind to the final, logical step in the Romance & Dating realm of the #metoo movement: flip the roles, reverse the rules. Woman as aggressor, man as passive recipient.

It’s the best way to avoid mixed, crossed, misunderstood, or unclear signals.

The current flailing about certainly isn’t working. These endless back-and-forth arguments about the meaning of a woman’s murmur, the intention of a batted eyelash, or whether a “yes” is enthusiastic enough to communicate undeniable consent has everyone in such a state of fearful uncertainty about how to simply talk to each other that we seem dangerously close to manufacturing a perfectly “safe” — read: emotionless, and therefore also utterly sexless and romance-free — existence such as the one depicted in the 2016 science fiction movie Equals.

Many men say they have absolutely no idea how to approach women in a post #metoo world. Some question whether they should approach women at all.

A male Facebook friend recently complained in a (now deleted) post that the movement has gone so overboard that his innocuous, flirtatious “throwaway comment” directed at a woman was quickly blown out of proportion and perceived as harassment.

This was a comment he’d been using since 2004 without issue, he insisted, but now, all of a sudden, it had somehow made him a bad guy.

His conclusion: Men can’t say anything, anymore.

Another male Facebook friend posted the following series of remarks on his public page:

I said that her dress was the same color red as the High Court building in Calcutta. Sorry. Should’ve just said, “Nice dress.” Or nothing. Any thought above the Nacho Level should be tasered now. …

You can’t say anything anymore. It was a very particular shade of red. I was thinking color, not dress, not the woman in the dress. But, hey…I get it now. …

You used to be able to say, “You look great.” Not no more. Pathetic. And what’s especially silly is that there is such a natural positive, innocent regard. “Hi, fabulous!” WTF happened?

Men aren’t the only ones who are scared and confused. Women are scared, too.

A Twitter user responding to a man who asked why a woman would be afraid to come to his house in a gated community for a nice, home-cooked dinner replied:

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She isn’t alone, of course. Women have apparently been so afraid of what could happen if they say “no” to men that they’ve said “yes” just to avoid a potentially dangerous conflict.

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(Whether they’re afraid because they received some indication particular men are a danger or whether they’re afraid of all men is unknown.)

Women are notoriously bad at saying “no’”— not just to men they fear, as it happens, but in a variety of situations — thanks to our having been socialized to be agreeable and polite. Therefore, in the dating realm, to avoid having to say “no” altogether, women now expect men to read women’s cues. Because “If a woman doesn’t say ‘no,’ that doesn’t necessarily mean she’s saying ‘yes,’” today’s feminist women say.

And today’s men, understandably, are desperately afraid they might misread not only the absence of a “no,” but the tone of the “yes.”

“So, wait,” today’s man says. “I just said, ‘May I have sex with you,’ and you said, ‘Yeah.’ But…but, you know, you only smiled halfway. Also, you said ‘yeah,’ but not ‘yes.’ Is ‘yeah’ the same as ‘yes’? I mean, if we have sex, how can I be sure you didn’t feel pressured, or something? What if you wake up in the morning thinking I’m a…like, a ‘predator’?”

Today’s man sips from his wine glass and looks at today’s woman’s wine glass. She’s finished the whole thing. Holy hell, is she drunk? He only gave her a short pour, but she has now technically ‘had something to drink.’

“You know what?” he says, putting down his glass. “I think it’s best we don’t do this.”

“But I really want to,” she says.

Today’s man chews the curled-down tips of his mustache. “Mm,” he says. “Mm. Yeah, okay, you say that, but how do I know you’re not just saying it because you’re afraid I’m going to attack you, or something, if you don’t say it?” He crosses his arms over his clothed belly. “All right. Here’s this: Would you like to engage with me sexually? Yes or no.”


“That’s what you think I want you to say!”

Not only is this new paradigm confusing, but it keeps women (and it’s our own doing, btw) firmly tucked into our passive roles.

Thankfully, there is one sure-fire and simple way to eliminate almost all confusion in heterosexual, cis-gender romantic interactions:

Complete role reversal.

Men: please wait to be approached. Men: please wait to be flirted with. Men: please wait to be asked out. Men: please wait to be called after a date, asked for a second date, kissed at the end of a date, or touched.

This may sound excessive, but it’s really the only way to know beyond a reasonable doubt whether the woman is interested in any of these things.

And women, this is really the only way to eliminate any and all unwanted advances.

We have to stop waiting for men to do it the right way for us and, instead, do it for ourselves.


Kristen Tsetsi is the author of The Age of the Child: When a pro-life amendment to the Constitution leads to criminalized birth control and life sentences for abortion, politicians start finding babies abandoned on their doorsteps. That’s just the beginning. “Illuminates the hypocrisies of our time without flinching.” — Alan Davis, author of So Bravely Vegetative

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Author, THE AGE OF THE CHILD & others. Former adjunct prof & journo. Co-host, ChildfreeGirls series:

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