At a party recently, the topic of dating came up. This is not unusual, as my friends are aware of this column, and they now feel comfortable talking all things courtship-related with me. In this particular conversation, the debate was whether or not it is okay for women to ask men out. My male friend concluded that it is unattractive and threatening for a woman to approach a man — or even express her interest, whether verbally or non-verbally. I found it hard to gauge exactly what my female friends thought.
A reader also wrote in asking for my perspective on a “woman initiating courtship or at least trying to get a number.” I’ve previously written on the topic of women asking men out, and I stand by what I’ve said in the past.
By silencing women about expressing what they want, you also silence them when it comes to expressing what they don’t want.
I’d rather have a casual conversation about common interests with an interesting person and discuss keeping in touch instead of being constrained by some Victorian ideal that I must be corset bound and lockjawed, sitting pretty as a picture atop a shelf waiting for some gallant heehaw to collect me as his prize. For those who believe that’s part of a deeper moral code, it’s not. It’s made up, and it’s unhealthy.
And it's important to remain engaged. I make quick moves to free myself from feeling anything for a person when they don’t take the initiative to spend time with me (and trust me, it’s not easy for a girl with a penchant for scraggly-haired bohemians). It’s not just a dating thing. It’s a life thing. No one should hang around for someone who’s not excited and fascinated by them.
So here’s the thing: expressing yourself shouldn’t be a crime. Being attracted to someone shouldn’t be shameful. Approaching people like they’re pawns on a game board is dehumanizing. I have always felt this way, which is why I have never believed in any of that hogwash about waiting three days to call, or not kissing on the first date, or whatever other bologna people say to try to keep you in line.
You know what they’re afraid of? An uprising. They’re afraid that we’ll all just learn to treat each other well, without all these rules and regulations to hold us back from being real about our feelings. And it should be noted that every action has a reaction, so by silencing women about expressing what they want, you conversely silence them when it comes to expressing what they don’t want. The paralysis many of us have experienced when a suitor goes in for the kill and we just want to escape? The lockjaw that ensues? That’s the lovely side effect of being told that your voice and your feelings are a threat. That what you want is a mere side note in the grand scheme of things.
I look forward to the day when we’re beyond questions like, “Should women ask men out?” I’d like to be done with perpetuating this cat and mouse objectification game. I’d like to have brilliant conversations and throw my head back in laughter and not worry if being confident in myself is threatening someone’s masculinity.