By Anusha Srinivasan Sep. 02, 2017
In a culture where men hesitate to approach women in a bar, why do women struggle to take the initiative? I use it as a reminder that I’m not afraid to go after what I want.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be? Invisibility? Super-strength? Shape-shifting? Mind reading? I already have my superpower. My superpower is the amazing ability to ask men out.
The first ever guy I asked out politely declined (we both went to the same math tuition). It was a shock, given that he had stealthily passed notes to me in class, made it a point to sit next to me, and would call me every day at exactly 9 pm to clarify “doubts”. I would’ve overcome this rejection easily, if he hadn’t suggested the next day that his friend accompanies us on the date. To save face, I pretended to think about it (even though I was secretly annoyed), but dismissed him quickly. I still count it as my first victory.
I don’t know about you, but there’s something special about an unattainable boy. You can go all Freud on my ass and say I’m doing this to avoid commitment. Let me go all Freud on your ass and say it’s probably linked to his psychoanalytic theory: My focus of attention (conscious) is on chasing men, I use my preconscious to recall how to ask each guy out differently, and my unconscious has buried the memories of being rejected by guys I ask out.
Between ages 23 and 27, I dated/enjoyed flings with/had one-night stands with 12 boys – I had asked seven of them out. For this reason, I am stumped that more women aren’t doing this. Asking a man out, for me, is as simple as reaching out for candy… it’s yours for just asking.
In a culture where men hesitate to approach women in a bar (but catcall them when they’re out with friends or on the street), why don’t women take the initiative? Two of my friends said that they had no qualms about asking men out. Three were in the “it depends” zone – a very grey area that could swing either way, but judging by how they responded, it would mostly go black. Five others were vehemently against it. This last category, which clearly is how the majority thinks, provided a diverse set of reasons, ranging from “he’s too hot for me, he’ll reject me” to “it is the guys duty to ask me out”. Some wonder why we should “mess with tradition”; others think he may just “want a friend”, and a huge chunk believes they will come across as “desperate and aggressive”.
There have been times when men have said no because they either wanted to date my best friend, or they thought of me as a “good friend”. I don’t love being rejected, but it doesn’t kill me.
Desperate… really? Do we really think a guy is “desperate” when he asks a woman out for coffee, drinks, or even sex? We’re always praising them for taking the initiative and find it super-attractive. In this equal-opportunity world, why should we hold such double standards? Is rejection harder for us than it is for our male counterparts?
I asked a guy out when I was 24 and he said he couldn’t date me because of my caste. It was perhaps one of the worst reasons I’ve heard. There have been times when men have said no because they either wanted to date my best friend, or they thought of me as a “good friend”. Some have made the epic “just not interested yet” excuse. I don’t love being rejected, but it doesn’t kill me. Plus, the next guy I asked out was great. It was one of the best relationships I’ve had. I met him at a party where our stoned eyes met over a joint that no one was surprisingly paying attention to. It took me one more group outing before I could finally muster the courage to text and ask him out.
Let’s face it, dating takes a lot of effort and more often than not ends in drudgery. So why put it in someone else’s hands? There’s a palpable thrill in deciding for yourself who you can go out with, and there’s nothing more empowering than making the first damn move. In a world that’s shouting out for empowerment, it seems pretty convenient then to take the backseat and get all coy like the blushing brides of the fifties when it comes to dating. As if to say, “We are feminists and we are equals, but not that equal okay?”
I’ve been called ballsy for what I do by women who’ve climbed the Everest. How is asking a guy out ballsy? My friend Akshara, who is a fellow ask-outer, finds the glorification troublesome. “It distracts from the intentions and affections behind the asking. Please don’t put me on a pedestal for telling you first that I like you. Just… like me, if you feel the same way. Pedestals are lonely places.”
As for me, I’m not so troubled. What’s the worst that could happen? You figure after a date or two that it’s not working and you move on. But when you do ask a guy out, it brings back that sexy confidence of having some control over the shitty dating cycle. That all dressed-up-and-ready-to-go feeling. It reminds me that I’m not afraid to go after what I want – that I can decide who I date and who I don’t. Asking men out makes me feel hot.
Think about it this way: When you have no inhibitions in choosing what you wear, what you eat, or which BuzzFeed personality quiz to take when you’re mad bored at work, why not decide which guy you’d like to date and when? It could be the single most empowering choice you make today. Go on, send that damn text.