An illustration of a man pulling up a chair next to a woman. The drawing seems to depict people in the 19th century.

That’s What She Said

Talking to Women: A User’s Guide

Guys, we know, dating is hard, especially in these confusing, pressure-cooker #MeToo times. But being a decent human should not be that complicated.

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I, like many, have witnessed a lot of #MeToo backlash. I have seen men on their knees in the middle of the street, cry-yelling to the sky, “Well, how are we even supposed to date now that we can’t automatically treat women like shit?!” I have seen women (my mom’s friend Linda) chastising other women (me) on Facebook, “Don’t play the victim! Back in my day, we physically fought men tooth and nail in high heels every day and we were still competent secretaries and girlfriends! It was just like Mad Men except with more blood and bandages! We were tough as nails and we still did our nails! What I’m saying is you’re weak and you dress like shit, Fiona!”

Okay, thank you, Linda, I hear you and I do not regret repeatedly rejecting your invitation to play Candy Crush. I can’t help Linda right now, but to all you frustrated yell-cryer men, I am here today with some simple, effective advice for successfully dating in the #MeToo era. Okay here it is:

Don’t be a dick about this. It’s not that hard.

I mean don’t get me wrong, DATING is hard. It has always been a lonely, awful nightmare of guessing and hoping and being disappointed and getting excited and feeling rejected. It’s been that way forever. Look at this direct translation of a Paleolithic cave painting of two Neanderthals, a fish, and a small stick:

“Jeez, does Brenda like me like me, or are we just friends who hunt fish? We ate the head off a fish together today and I don’t know, it just made me feel close to her. Did the fish-head thing mean anything to her? Ugh I’m too scared to throw a small stick at her to find out.”

Yes, a kiss is just a kiss, a sigh is just a sigh, and a cave painting is just a LiveJournal. So let the perils of dating stem from the fact that humans are inconveniently born with hungry, porcupine-trash-can hearts pumping in their defenseless, ever-decaying chests, and no one knows how to use them. Let it be hard because of our thorny, little rubbage-hearts, not because people who have historically been dehumanized are asking to be treated humanely.

I get why Bill Maher and so many other senescent provocateurs don’t want the old paradigm to change or shift at all. Because dating has been great for them! Because Bill Maher’s idea of a perfect date is explaining why a bad song is good to a woman for three hours as she whispers jokes from his first HBO special into his urethra. I get it, those were the days, Bill! It’s funny that the name of your show is Real Time because I think you struggle with this concept. You would like to turn back the clock to when you could tell a shitty Monica Lewinsky joke and people would laugh. To a time when your hero, Hugh Hefner, was considered a leader of the sexual revolution instead of an ancient jizz-gargoyle who perpetually abused women. But Bill, Hugh Hefner is dead and Monica Lewinsky is a person. I understand that these two facts are hard for you to accept. You would like to retain your identity as an edgy, bad boy comedian, but currently? In real time? You’re not cool, and I think that is unbearable for you. You say this generation is ruining love but we are only ruining your version of love, which is an exceedingly limited version.

A common concern I’ve been hearing is, “Oh, God how do I talk to a woman? I can’t ask a woman out in this political climate!” Okay so here’s the thing, you can definitely talk to a woman, or even ask her on a date, but she may not want to talk to you or go out with you and that has to be okay. Women do not owe you their attention or bodies. No one owes anything to anyone. The same applies to you. If she wants to talk to you but you don’t want to, you don’t have to! Isn’t that great and also heartbreaking? The loneliness of the human condition promotes equality, get into it! We are equally fucked because we all end up crushed to dust in a velvet tote bag or awkwardly laid out in an overpriced pine box. I hope this is a chilling ray of solace for you, mortal reader. Now who wants to go to the movies?!

All women are different so I can’t really give you blanket advice on how to approach and talk to them but I will say in my experience, not being a creep works wonders. If it’s 11 p.m. and you see a woman alone at a gas station, washing her windshield, don’t run up to her, rip the squeegee out of her hand and start washing her windshield while yelling, “Well, I obviously just made your night, right?!” Your idea of chivalry is her idea of how a horror movie begins. Also, if you insult a woman on purpose as a method of hitting on her, I hope she instinctively projectile-vomits onto your face and into your beer. Don’t do it, it’s so exhausting. I would suggest talking to her like you would talk to a man you admire and respect. Or like the old lady that taught you piano when you were 9. I don’t know, just like a human, talk to her like she’s a fellow human. Flirting can be nice, but when it isn’t mutual, it is a drag. And when it starts turning hostile, it is miserable. If you can’t identify the difference between flirting and harassment, find a therapist and talk to them about this. A good therapist will be able to help you untangle the questions and feelings you have inside of you that may be keeping you tied up in this area of your life. If you can’t afford therapy, read books or Google “how to treat a woman like a human.” Resist the urge to give up your soul and join one of those “Feminism is Cancer” groups. I can assure you that feminism, though historically flawed, is not cancer. Cancer is cancer and it’s a monster.

Another fear I hear expressed is, “I’m terrified and confused about consent. It makes me freeze up, I’m afraid to touch someone the wrong way.” Yes, I know there are a lot of nice, nervous people out there panicking about this. And yeah, the topic of consent can be scary and uncomfortable. But don’t forget, it can also be HOT.

Here are some hot examples of sentences that might come up when discussing consent:

  • “I want to put on Otis Redding records and make out with you with our shirts off. Is that cool?”
  • “Hey, I know we’re currently roller-skating and we need to concentrate on not falling but can I kiss you?”
  • He raises both arms, does jazz hands. *She lifts her vagina from whence it almost came (his face) and says, “Good job, you used the jazz hand signal! Need some air?” “Yeah just for a sec, your clitoris is so powerful it’s draining and absorbing my life-force.” “Haha yeah, here have a Gatorade.”
  • Heaving chests, direct eye contact, sweat dripping after the fourth Otis Redding record, “Do you want-?” *ENTHUSIASTIC NODDING.
  • “Okay so you’re Edward Scissorhands and I’m a woman who also has scissors for hands but I’m even more feral than you, like no one even gave me a name! So this is when we’re alone together for the first time, in the back of the salon where you work and I eat the hair scraps. We can’t use our hands to touch each other but we can use every other body part. And if anything feels too intense, just say “Beetlejuice” and we’ll stop. Okay, here are your scissorhands, I made them myself. Yes, there was a sale on kid-friendly scissors at Target! Aw thanks, babe, I like how they turned out too. I love you too, now go put on your lipstick, Edward.”
  • “Oh my my, oh hell yes.”

And these are just a few examples. There is a whole wild world out there filled with infinite ways to have thrilling, fulfilling, weird, wonderful, extremely hot consensual sex. And the dating that leads up to it can be filled with all the exquisite agony and cosmic connection that your spiky, garbage-heart desires. We are simply trying to eradicate sexual violence from our culture. It isn’t a men’s issue or a women’s issue, it is a human issue. And if humans would get on the same page about this, we would be able to defeat the robots that are coming for us. The robots that are already here.

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