Thanks for this thoughtful comment!
“But stories that help men navigate how to be more attractive/compelling to women?
Because saying, “can I touch your breasts tonight?” — two minutes into your first date — is, by definition, asking for consent and being respectful.”
I have to admit, when I read the first sentence in that quote, I bristled a little bit. I got the implication that a lot of assault (or coercive encounters, at least) are borne out of dudes not having any game, and being frustrated. But reading the second sentence in this quote, I totally see what you mean. Consent needs to be taught and prioritized, but we can’t teach it as a specific, stilted mark to hit or particular phrase you can always use. It’s an outlook that has to be crafted, and taken into every encounter.
In my opinion, we need to shift the cultural attitudes that leave a dude wondering, at the start of a date, whether he’s gonna touch a breast tonight. It’s a weird way to think about relating to another person. And it’s not an outlook that leads to enjoyable sex on either side.
That question — “Can I touch your breasts tonight?” — isn’t technically wrong, at all, but it is inelegant, as you note; far worse, it reveals something about how the guy views his date and sexuality in general. That’s why it’s a turn off. Not because it’s kind of dorky (though it is), but because it reveals he sees the date’s body in objectifying terms, and sees the date as something with an achievement end point. He’s not actually living in the moment and taking in his date as a person, or viewing the encounter as an evolving dynamic.
We need to cultivate a view of sex not as something to “get”. Even under consensual circumstances, it must not be seen as a thing to “get”. It’s an activity that you can enjoy with a person who wants to do it. One of many nice things to potentially do with a person you like.
In an ideal world, the guy wouldn’t even be coming into the interaction with that kind of perspective. He’d be looking to the other person to see what they want to be doing, how they’re feeling, and he’d be thinking in a dynamic way about what he wants to be doing at the moment, himself. And then if an appropriate moment came, he’d ask about a behavior that seemed to fit what was going on and how everyone was feeling. Learning how to ask questions about certain acts would improve the odds of that playing out in a consensual way of course.