There is such a whirlwind of topics flying around relating to dating these days that it’s nearly impossible to figure out which one to tackle first, but after reading the details of the encounter from the ‘Aziz Ansari incident’ (which you can read here), I think this is an important one to discuss.
First, let me say this: I am not one of those people who idolizes people based on their ‘celebrity’ or outward persona. I refuse to listen to Chris Brown’s music after what he did to Rihanna, for example.
That being said, as far as I know, Aziz is a relatively good dude. I mostly agree with his stances on dating and feminism, and he has always seemed reasonable and level-headed to me. But…
Reading about the date he took this woman on made me annoyed and uncomfortable. From the way she tells it, there were multiple instances where any emotionally intelligent man should have known she was pulling away and uncomfortable. Mostly because she was physically pulling away and literally saying she was uncomfortable.
Aziz, in a response to a text she sent him, said he misread the situation and his public statement, says that everything seemed to be consensual.
It seems (from the outside) to be pretty black and white that she wasn’t feeling it. Who knows what the energy in the room was like, but it’s pretty obvious that if a woman keeps moving away from you and tells you she’s uncomfortable, that it’s time to chill.
So, here’s the big question: How do we help men become more aware of how women are feeling, and adjust accordingly?
- Make sure you don’t assume anything. By this, I mean, just because one part of the night might be going well, or she agrees to go back to your apartment, doesn’t mean you have free reign from there on out. Each part of the night is its own level and needs to be treated as such. Consent for step 1 does not mean consent for step 5.
- Learn escalation. Smaller advances that aren’t uncomfortable in order to see how she responds. A hand on the knee, or around her shoulder. Does she get closer, or further away when you do this? Casually (but quickly) pull back if she starts moving further away. That’s how you avoid Ansari-isms.
- Stop rushing things. Too many of us are jumping in so quickly that we really don’t have time to read (or send) the signs that we need to. This is why the prior point is so important, you are ‘testing the waters’ for lack of a better term, in order to see where someone stands as you go.
- Understand intentions. This one is for the ladies. If you agree to go back to a man’s apartment after a date, you are sending the message that you are interested in sex. Nobody thinks you’re actually going to ‘watch a movie.‘ So, because of this, we need to make sure we can tell the difference between a man who is being overtly creepy, and one who may just be a little awkward and not know what the hell he’s doing.
I explain this further in a short clip:
This is precisely the reason why we need to educate each other better on human interactions. Psychology. Communication (verbal, and non-verbal). Dating. Love. Relationships. Respect.
When we avoid topics like sex, we raise generations of men and women who end up being clueless about it. Since men are (by nature) typically the pursuers and initiators, they have a responsibility to understand ways to approach these situations with respect and tact.
Was Aziz Ansari intentionally overstepping boundaries? Is he just clueless about how to do sex? Maybe he’s just an awkward dude who was just misread. Maybe not.
Either way, though, all of these situations can be avoided if we just put in more effort to respect and listen to each other – even when no words are being spoken.
(Photo of Ansari: Paul Drinkwater/NBCUniversal via Getty Images)
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