How To Make The First Move Without Forgetting Consent (Spoiler: It's Not Hard)

Photographed by Refinery29.
For straight men and women, the sexual script has generally gone like this: Boy likes girl; boy asks girl out; boy makes the first move. That’s always been less-than-ideal (not to mention, limiting). In the #MeToo conversation, though, it feels more out of touch than ever. But, as is the case with most social movements, rhetoric comes faster than actual change. Many men feel as if they’re still expected to be the sexual aggressors, whether that means asking someone out, leaning in for a kiss, or escalating a makeout session into sex.
As one man wrote in a Reddit post shortly after the Aziz Ansari allegations came to light: “I don't know where the line is between complimenting and harassing, or a proposition and misconduct. I absolutely don't want to push myself on anybody or be where I'm not wanted, but there's also a substantial amount of reliance on men to initiate everything from saying ‘hi’ to asking for a date.”
Honestly, it’s a lesson everyone — regardless of gender identity or sexual orientation — should be learning, and one that’s probably more straightforward than it seems. Yet, in the Sahara desert that is sex education in the US, people aren’t learning what consent really is. (Hint: It should be more enthusiastic than “no means no.”)
So, we found experts to break down how all people can make the first move and still be mindful of consent. Lesson number one: The best way to know if someone wants to have sex with you is to ask. Read on for the rest of their tips.
#MeToo has raised the voices of women who’ve been sexually assaulted or harassed — and that’s not just great, it’s revolutionary. So, where does that leave men? To help answer that question, Refinery29 is providing actionable advice for men who want to be allies.
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