Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 


123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789


You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.




Filtering by Category: Yes Means Yes

What If No One Came?

Steven Wells

When I started writing Yes Means Yes four years ago, the #MeToo and Times Up movements hadn’t been born, and college campuses were rallying around the Department of Education’s Dear Colleague letter. Since then, relationships between men and women are changing in many positive ways, but also by a growing sense of unease. 

For the book, I interviewed many young women who freely expressed their views on college relationships. I began to see that behavior of men and women had changed dramatically since my time in college. The hook-up culture, in which casual sex is frequent and considered a natural course of friendship among students, has become the norm in college. One woman told me she needs to try out many men before she'll find the “one.” Yet outside of these consensual encounters, some men prey upon women and use drugs and alcohol to achieve a sexual encounter. Women believed universities, fearing bad PR, were reluctant to investigate these assaults, and an application of Title IX rules to investigate campus sexual assault was launched by the Obama administration on the same day he launched his reelection campaign.

At a recent book signing, a mother wanted to know what advice she should give her son who would soon leave for college. She was concerned that he might have an encounter with a woman, who could later accuse him of assault. The cases I researched suggested that men are typically disadvantaged when trying to prove mutual consent. “What do I tell him,” she asked? I thought for a minute, then replied that she should encourage him to make sure he’s confident of the character of any partner before intimacy. Take some time. And if drugs or alcohol are involved, wait. Because if both students are intoxicated, the man is almost always found guilty because a woman can’t legally give consent.

As colleges stepped up their Title IX investigations, and a lesser standard of proof was adopted, men began to feel their rights to due process were being violated. According to one article, Harvard has 55 full and part-time Title IX coordinators, Princeton has 41. With the arrival of the #MeToo movement, men are now evaluating their past behavior in dating and in the workplace. Reports suggest they are less willing to mentor women, and for many companies, after work socialization has been canceled. I recently attended a Town Hall in Seattle where a university professor stated that dating in the workplace is over. As with most societal issues these days, the issue has become polarized.

So when I read an article by Todd Essig, 4 Ways Straight Men Are Responding To #MeToo, my views on the changing nature of relationships were confirmed. Essig, a clinical psychologist, developed four categories of strategies men employ as they evaluate their assumptions about masculinity, seduction and consent in light of #MeToo: #BeKinder, #BeBetter, #ImDone, and #ImOut. The first two are well overdue. It’s the last two that caught my eye. Are men really giving up?

Men are fearful. Several recent stories have described false accusations of sexual assault. A recent New York Times article highlights many of the due-process concerns I raised in Yes Means Yes. The article chronicles a football player at Michigan State who had, what he claims, was a consensual encounter with a student. He first faced a police investigation, then a university investigation, and neither found basis for a legal charge nor a school code infraction. After he graduated and was drafted by Houston, a third investigation by the Title IX office was initiated without his knowledge or representation, and he was found responsible for relationship violence and sexual misconduct. Houston then cut him from the team. He is now suing Michigan state.

Another recent case involved a 19 year-old female student who accused two football players of having sex against her will, then later admitted that she had lied to gain sympathy from another student she wanted to date. She is now on trial for evidence tampering.

Yes, there are widely publicized stories of men who committed egregious sexual assault too, including former Stanford swimmer Brock Turner who was criminally convicted and given a light sentence. Both sides can draw upon examples of false accusations and legitimate claims of sexual assault, and those are the typical stories we read about in the press. But what about the quiet middle. Is there a fundamental change in how men and women establish and engage in romantic relationships?

In conversations with my male friends, a palpable uncertainty comes out. One told of a recent second date with a woman. They enjoyed a bottle of wine on his deck, and as he was saying goodbye, he stared into her eyes and decided to kiss her. As he leaned in, her lips met his and they enjoyed a lingering kiss. We they were finished, he said, “Before I kissed you, I was thinking I should have first asked your permission because of all the talk about consent.”

She smiled and responded, “I’m glad you didn’t. That would be weird.”

So might men be confused as well as fearful? And how will this play out? Will men shy away from dating women as too risky? Will the marriage rate continue to decline? Or, as I hope, will the possibility of a stable, compatible, and shared commitment of marriage become even more attractive? Change happens slowly, but it will be interesting to watch.

Dating In a Post-Feminist World

Steven Wells

Over the past month, since the Aziz Ansari controversy was launched by an article on the website,  I've grown alarmed by the number of op-eds written by women who increasingly disparage men as dangerous, misogynistic, and irredeemable. Finally, a confusing op-ed in the Washington Post spurred me to write a response. Through sarcasm and humor, I try to point out the uncertainty many men feel about the new rules of dating.  I was not surprised the Washington Post declined to publish it.  Nevertheless, it was fun to write.


Dating In a Post-Feminist World

As a single dad, my days were filled with packed lunches, school drop-offs, and late-night homework, all juggled around a corporate career. Dating was daunting. I longed for intellectual conversation, laughter, and shared physical attraction.

Several women told me they only dated men who practiced total equality with women. One foretold that she wouldn’t sleep with a man until he had some skin in the game. I joked that I had about six inches of skin I was willing to put into the game. She didn’t laugh. After the Aziz Ansari episode, I wondered if I need become a mentalist to fully understand what women wanted.

My on-line dating attempts included swiping left and swiping right, until put off by a request for a full-frontal nude photo. Recently, my company adopted a dating policy, one that stipulated a one-strike rule: you could be turned down only once. A response of “Not tonight,” or “Maybe another time,” counted as “No.” Dating risked unwanted attention from the HR department and flirting was out of the question.

I recently had a date with a single mom, attractive and witty, from my daughter’s school. I used a rideshare to deliver me to an upscale restaurant where a hostess escorted me to a sumptuous, padded leather booth. Elizabeth, it’s not her real name, sat behind a crisp, white tablecloth with a glass of Scotch. I complimented her simple black dress as I slid into my side of the booth and said hello.

I ordered a Scotch, too, and soon enjoyed its warmth sliding down my throat. We discussed our kids, their progress, and our plans for their futures. After ordering our meals, the waiter asked: “Will you be having wine with dinner?” I requested a few minutes.

“What would you like,” I asked Elizabeth, “red or white?”

“You choose.”

“You’re having meat and I’m having fish; we can each order a glass.”

“Go ahead and order a bottle.”

I perused the wine list and decided on a French Pinot Noir. The waiter rewarded me with, “Good choice.”

“I usually drink whites,” Elizabeth said.

“Why didn’t you say so?” I was more curious than irritated.

“I trust your judgement.”

The dinner was excellent, and Elizabeth seemed to enjoy the wine, keeping up with me glass for glass.

After the dishes were cleared and desert menus presented, Elizabeth surprised me and slid around the table toward me. Even more surprising was her foot rubbing against my leg. In response, I briefly placed my hand on top of her arm and told her how much I’d enjoyed our dinner and conversation. Concerned about unwanted touching, I quickly removed it.

After the check arrived, I struggled with who should pay. I was traditional yet unsure of Elizabeth’s expectation. “Should we split it?”

She looked at me with a cocked eye in a subtle expression of disappointment. I placed my credit card on top of the tray.

We lingered over desert and drinks. Elizabeth moved her hand to the top of my leg and gave it a slight squeeze. “You work out?” Her perfect teeth dazzled through a broad smile.

Her hand wasn’t unwanted touching—I enjoyed it. Was she signaling a growing interest in intimacy? How could I know? The HR department had recently presented all employees a module that defined informed consent, a policy stipulating two partners engaging in an amorous relationship must obtain either verbal, or non-verbal consent before any escalation. I felt paralyzed.

After an awkward silence, Elizabeth removed her hand. “I should go.”

“Of course.” I stood, disappointed.

As we waited by the coat check with other diners milling about, Elizabeth turned to face me. She coolly slipped her fingers barely inside the waistband of my pants and pulled me close. “Can I give you some advice?”

“Sure,” I blurted.

“I’m an old-fashioned feminist, and I’ll call out a man for inappropriate behavior. But I also expect he has an ego strong enough to handle feedback. I can compete with men in the workplace, and I bet I could beat you in a 10K. But in romance, I’m looking for something different. I want a man who’s going to order my wine and pay for my diner. Sure, I’m fully capable of both, but when it’s just me without my kids, I love to sit back and let someone do it for me.”

The best response I could muster was, “Women are confusing.”

“Women are intellectually diverse and not all the same. I planned to suggest my house after dinner, but you seemed so tentative, I couldn’t imagine us together in bed.”

“What?” The comment aroused me.

I want a man who will take me into the bedroom and slowly, deliberately, remove my clothes. One who will stroke the expensive fabric of my bra and deftly unfasten it with one hand. One who’s going to show me, with every fiber of passion he possesses, that I’m desired more than anything else in the world at that moment.” She paused and stared into my eyes.

I swallowed hard. “I can do that.”

She released my trousers and turned to take her coat. After buttoning it, and before leaving through a revolving door, she added, “Now that you know what I want, think about what you want. If you’re still interested, give me a call.”

I watched Elizabeth walk out onto the sidewalk and tap on her phone. I assumed she was requesting a ride home. I didn’t need to think about my answer to her question. I was interested. Then I faced the next dating challenge—how long to wait before I call? Marriage seemed far less confusing.