The Gender Knot Podcast

Women need to learn how to direct men, influence men, command men, ask of men, invite men. Women know what women need. A woman knows what she needs and wants in terms of shifting the status quo much better than a man knows, because most of this shit is invisible to men. We know when we shut down and aren’t saying something. We know when we want to break free. They don’t know. That’s part of the problem. So asking them to “figure it out” is just perpetuating the problem.
— Kasia Urbaniak
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Nas: We're going to be speaking to this wicked guest for our first episode. So Kasia Urbaniak, she teaches women how to be powerful and influential. She runs a school called the Academy, and she used to be a dominatrix and a Taoist nun. So we're going to hear from her about how women can ask for what they want. So we're mega excited about that.

Nas: So she teaches women about power and influence. She runs this school in New York called the Academy. So yeah, so she teaches women how to be more powerful and influential. Now fun fact, or interesting fact of it, she used to be a dominatrix, and she used to be a Taoist nun. I'm like-

Dan: Which order?

Nas: You know, I need to ask her. That is not a bad question.

Dan: That's the most important thing I want to know from her.

Nas: Yeah. Which led to the other? So Kasia was in London over the summer, and she and I met up. Basically, we initially started talking about how men can deal with more empowered women, because I think a lot of women in my generation feel that now is the age where women are becoming more empowered, but a lot of our male peers haven't caught up to that. So it leads to quite a frustrating dynamics. But instead, we pretty much ended up talking about how women can ask for what they want.

Nas: Sometimes the problem is the fact that as women, we're not sort of direct or clear enough with what we want. Which leads to all sorts of confusions. So yeah, we had a chat about that, and that was really good. I feel like especially now, with what's been going on in the news over the past year, but especially the past couple of weeks with all this Supreme Court stuff in your country, there is all this female rage and stuff. I kind of wonder if a lot of guys are thinking, okay, well, what do I do on the receiving end of this? So Kasia is great about talking about these kind of messy dynamics.

Dan: You love messy.

Nas: I love messy dynamics. I think that's when important things happen. But anyway, we're going to hear from Kasia. Then Dan and I are going to be back, and we're going to have a bit of a chat about the stuff that comes up.

Kasia: How can men deal with more empowered women? There are so many things in that question that are worth noting, which is that there is this feeling that all of a sudden men have to deal with something, right? Manage something, handle something, that it's burdensome, that it's difficult and complicated. One of the things I noticed in teaching, way before this #MeToo moment happened, was that–this is a huge generalization, but I've seen it often enough that it's worth talking about–which is that for many, many reasons, women hesitate to ask for what they want. There is this implied feeling about it, like they're sparing men from the trouble. Then there is this kind of generalized reputation of women being mysterious, difficult, and hard to read. That it’s somehow doing men, especially when you're talking about heterosexual romantic relationships, that they're doing men a favor. Which is actually not true at all.

Kasia: One of the beautiful things that we do in the school is even though our classes are for women, we have men volunteer to participate in significant portions of the exercises. Time and time and time again what shows up is this incredible cycle of heterosexual men really wanting to make their woman happy. Not knowing how, consistently finding themselves in no-win situations, giving up, and being put in a position of handling and dealing with the silent backlash, or the mysterious poison arrows, the comments. When you love someone, and they're unhappy, and you can't reach them, you feel useless. All of your gifts, all of your abilities to provide, and give love in meaningful ways are immediately paralyzed.

Kasia: So in a climate where inside of this heterosexual romantic relationship, men-women generalization, inside of this, we have men who don't get to show up as strong and loving, or successful. They don't get any wins. Even if they get it right, often times a women will hold back and not say it. Even if she does ask, she'll ask for 95% or 40% of what she wants, she'll negotiate with herself before she speaks, she'll go into the thing that she thinks he's capable of that won't be too much trouble. The problem with that is if a man goes through all of the trouble of doing the request, fulfilling on it, and it's 95% right, and she's like, “thank you, thank you, thank you,” he knows that he didn't light her up. He knows he didn't hit the spot. So on some level, on a bodily felt primal level, he knows he failed, even though there is evidence to the contrary that's spoken. We know these things, we know when we hit the spot, light someone up, move them to tears, change their lives. Even if it's with the smallest gesture, we know it. We fucking know it.

Kasia: Men have already been dealing with the mysterious woman who pretends to be low maintenance, in the context of these romantic relationships, and finds herself having to look other places to fulfill herself, to develop herself, leaving him behind. So the dealing with has been going on already. Now, there's the second part, which is when you say the more empowered woman, right? That's also a general idea. What's happening is on the one level, women who have had complaints, or serious grievances, that have been largely accepted or invisible, that they didn't even know how to put language to, or didn't have the courage to–whether it's a history of sexual assault or it's like a habitual thing that now has language that didn't before, like mansplaining–all of a sudden, they're starting to speak.

Kasia: So we can call that more empowered, but the truth is, if you've been holding something back for most of your life, because you thought it was okay, and then suddenly you have your sisters, and you have the news, and you have all these people reflecting back to you that it's unacceptable, and it connects with your own feeling of “this is unacceptable,” when you start to speak, it does not sound eloquent, elegant, it's not calibrated, it does not take the listening of the man into consideration. It doesn't have to, because when something has been festering in a closet for ages, when we're trying to reinvent our lives, and we're doing something we've never done before, it comes out fucking clumsy and sloppy, and full of extra rage. You talk to one man about something he did, and every single man that's ever done the exact same thing to you in the past, all of that force is behind it. That opening is, it's an opening, but everything comes out. The goal, the gore, all of it. The love, the hate, it's confused. It needs to be, because if we waited for it to be well organized and understood internally, and we started by ourselves in isolation, talking about how do we now bring men up to speed with a new reality that we're trying to create, and propose something that's visionary and beautiful that they can participate in? We'd never get anywhere, because isolation is one of the main problems to begin with.

Nas: Well this is exciting, because you're talking about mess, kind of. This is just my opinion, but I think messy times are... that's when good shit is going to happen, when everything is a mess.

Kasia: Yeah, when things get shaken up, for sure. But this kind of mess is also specific to skill acquisition. When you first learn how to skateboard, or walk, or when you first learn how to speak the truth, and when people are saying, “speak your truth,” they're actually aiming for something really specific. It takes some skill to be able to know oneself and know how to speak. We take that for granted. It's messy because our world is turning upside down. But it's also messy because women, in the phrase like “women becoming more empowered,” they're experimenting. Experiments are, by nature, supposed to be successful, and supposed to fail.

Kasia: So we start, anytime you're feeling out a new landscape, you're feeling things you don't expect. You're learning things you don't know. That's what's exciting. There is a lot of growth. So we have women becoming more empowered, and we have them–us–trying new things. So back to why we can't prepare ourselves in isolation, and get everything internally organized to have the greatest impact. Isolation is how this problem happens. So one of the things that happened in #MeToo is literally women started saying “me too.” In my classes the first, very often, it becomes necessary for me to ask everyone to close their eyes and raise their hands if they've ever been sexually compromised. When I get really specific about the definition of what sexual compromise is, by the time I'm finished explaining it, and I'm mentioning all the things that can lock trauma into the body, every hand is raised. Every fucking hand is raised. Now, why wasn't this an issue earlier? Because everybody thought that it was their own fault, or it was their own problem, or was their own issue. Even in the workplace, a woman who is going for a salary negotiation and knows she's shortchanged herself, she goes, “oh, I didn't speak at the moment I should have, I missed my chance. Why did I let them walk all over me? I don't value myself, I don't have enough self worth.” I, I, I, and she's in an isolated state where she doesn't know that there is a #metoo there happening as well.

Kasia: It's when people step out of isolation and start talking to each other, and make messes because there is no other way, and find the gold, find what's truly in common, that power starts to become available. So it's important for women to talk to each other about their experiences, and it's important for men to talk to women, and women to talk to men. And there will be a mess. Men, speaking to your original question, are still dealing with women, dealing with. But they're going from a place where you can't deal with what you don't know, you just have to manage your own place in that, to an opportunity where instead of dealing with an empowered woman, or dealing with a woman who is learning what power and empowerment is, you can participate in that. So that's night and day. So the opportunity for men to discover a new kind of place for themselves, and power and freedom, the ability to (if it's just in the context of heterosexual romantic relationships) actually make a woman fucking happy. You know? And be made happy in turn. It's only in that space that it's even remotely available.

Nas: You said something early on that also struck me in terms of when we talk about men having to deal with women. Does that sort of shortchange men, or assume that they're not up to it? Also what you were saying at the start, about men wanting to make women happy, but not entirely being sure.

Kasia: If somebody is trying to deal with something, rather than seizing the opportunity with full vigor and enthusiasm, it's usually a mark of low self esteem. We also live in a culture of self attack. So even though it looks like so many entitled, especially white, privileged males feel like they're owed everything, there is on a deeper level human beings suffering from a lot of self doubt and self hatred, and engaging in behavior that they think is going to declare them a winner and give them a rightful place to belong. It takes something to source oneself with enough faith and belief to look at something messy and go “I'm fucking diving in. This is an opening, this is an opportunity.” So I'm going to tell you a very quick story, right? This is something that I noticed, or I had a ...

Kasia: Very, very early on, I had a boyfriend who was a substitute teacher in a primary school. So he would go to the primary school, and he's a very gentle, loving-looking human being. So the moment he stepped into the room, all of the kids would be like, “sweet, we don't have to do anything today. We're going to fuck with this guy.” He knew he was going to get it, every single time. So what he would do when he walked into the room is he would find the Bad Kid, the kid who carries the role of the one who is the trouble maker. He would give him the most important job.

Kasia: He would usually do something like, this misbehaving 11-year-old kid would be assigned the task of taking attendance, writing it down, bringing it by himself to the principal's office, unattended, and what he told me, that every time he did this, that kid transformed, and the entire room shifted. So bringing it back, we don't actually give men anything meaningful to do. So what are they going to do in a climate where they're the bad guys, there is a level one, especially post #metoo, right? This affects romantic relationships, this affects work relationships. Level one is, “holy shit, these guys are acting horribly.”

Nas: The men are thinking this?

Kasia: Yeah.

Nas: The men are thinking that women think we act horribly?

Kasia No. Men are saying Harvey Weinstein is horrible. Right? They're going, number one, they're going, “Have I done anything remotely similar to this?” All in private, all in secret, right? Two, “What are the times I saw something and didn't stop it? Didn't protect my sisters, my women, the women in my life?” That silent inventory is happening, but it's happening in isolation. Right? Women are starting to talk to each other. Most men are having this experience largely in isolation. Then there are the ones where they know they've misbehaved, or done things, or are more in the space of fear of getting caught, wondering why they weren't taught differently, getting angry that things that were allowed suddenly aren't allowed, and getting incriminated for things that were socially approved of before. Then there are the men who are on the other end of the spectrum, and they're just trying to save their asses, doing anything they can.

Kasia: All of this is happening on the other side. It's quite dangerous that all of that energy that has the entire variety of love and desire to protect, to guilt, shame, desire to self harm, to revenge, to upset, all of it. All of it is happening covered. If a woman is breaking herself out of the patriarchal jail, she needs to break herself out. Then it would support her own freedom if she went back in to save the men. One way she could do that is making requests of men that are powerful, whether they are personal, or they're political, it doesn't matter. It's when the bad kid has nothing to do, doesn't have a proper role, that he becomes unstoppably destructive.

Nas: This example of this quote/unquote bad kid is really interesting, because I feel it's as though that bad kid is suddenly being seen for their positive attributes. So is that kind of what you're saying, that by making specific requests, we're kind of empowering men as well?

Kasia: So the important distinction I would make is we're not seeing their positive qualities.

Nas: Men's?

Kasia: Yeah. We're asking them to act in certain ways, and seeing if they will. We're offering them a role that's positive. Whether they do it or not reveals a lot about the general superstitions that women carry about men. This is one thing that I can say with the confidence of my bones, that the level of superstition, and I call it superstition, because it's beyond assumption, about what's going on in the world of men is freakishly high.

Nas: The thing I really want to say here though is that I agree with a lot of what you're saying, and not to make excuses for women, but until recently, the penalties for asking have been high, the penalties for just being a woman who is bold, and speaks out, and demands, you know? Like we talk of women being demanding when they ask something. I know that now this is changing, which is why it's so exciting. But I kind of feel like it's not just women have been suppressing themselves and not doing that ask, I feel like there haven't been that many models or examples of it's okay to ask, and you should ask. Like a woman who asks is nagging, she's demanding, you know? We have such negative connotations around that.

Kasia: So one of the most important things that I teach is if you're going to make a request, or make a statement, a command, that's bold, it has to have the full weight of your authority. That takes a little bit of training, that takes a little bit of ability to see outward, to see the impact that you're making. The ones that might sound needy are often discomfort with receiving.

Nas: From the woman?

Kasia: Yeah. Yeah. It's... You can hear so much of it in the voice. It's like the words communicate one thing, but the body and the tone tells the other person how to feel about it. So even if you make a request, like (in a small, high-pitched, whiny voice) “Could we go on just one vacation together? Please?”

Nas: I already feel guilty.

Kasia: Yep. Because in that, I am carrying the signal of you never do this, if you say yes, you will justify my existence, and if you say no, you'll essentially be murdering me, making my request illegitimate. It doesn't sound like a fun vacation, right?

Nas: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Kasia: (Harsh and straightforward voice) “You're finally gonna get your shit together, and you're going to take me on a vacation,” is actually a bit better, because it carries more truth. But still, we're just beginning, you know? This is a deer on baby legs. We're just beginning. We're clumsy, and sloppy, and not really seeing the person we're asking of, or talking to, or connecting in a way that's powerfully influential.

Nas: So I totally get what you're saying. I'm going to be a little bit devil's advocate though.

Kasia: Go for it.

Nas: I feel like, and this is... I don't want to be too vague when I say this. So you made the example of a woman requesting from her partner, you know, to go on vacation, but doing it in a way that induces guilt in him. I'm thinking, especially in this post #metoo era, women are carrying a lot of trauma, they've got a lot of rage that's coming out. 'Cause I've seen this a lot where it's “oh, you could have asked that guy more nicely to do this.” It's like, yeah, but if someone is already hurt, and they're traumatized, maybe they're not in a place-

Kasia: They're having the wrong conversation then. They shouldn't be asking for a vacation. They should be saying “I need you to sit here for 20 minutes while I vent and rage about every single fucking thing I hate. Especially about you and our relationship. And after the 20 minutes are over, I'd like us to go to separate rooms and reconnect in an hour, because I'm going to tell you things that I don't even know are true, I don't even know if they're about you. They feel like they're about you. I need to say them to you, and I want you to be my fucking rock. I want you to sit through it. I want you to see what it's like to be a woman these days, right now, carrying everything I carry. I need you to love me through it, I need you to stay with me through it. Will you do it?” Right? That creates a clean container.

Nas: Where the other side knows what to expect?

Kasia: Well, they can also say no.

Nas: Okay.

Kasia: Right? But they also know what their job is, 'cause that doesn't sound like a request, it is a request. “I would like you to sit through listening to all of the trauma I'm feeling right now. I would like you to fix none of it. I would like you to not speak for a full 20 minutes. I would like you to not even take most of this as truth. I need to say it to hear what it sounds like.” That's a really specific request. That's not something we're trained in. We're trained in the other. We're trained in “I want you to respect me.”

Nas: Which is vague.

Kasia: It doesn't mean anything.

Nas: Right.

Kasia: Because a request that's not vague has a beginning, a middle, and an end and a way to measure whether success happened or not. It has a time, and a place, and usually if you're asking for something big, like respect, a whole series of behavior patterns, it's good to break it up into little steps. Let's see ... You're training people.

Nas: But maybe you don't... Because I understand what you mean by making a vague request like that. Maybe you don't even know what you need, you just know the status quo can't continue.

Kasia: So you start there. So if you wanted to say “This can't continue,” it also would be very empowering for you to know what you would like to have start. This isn't negative and positive. This is called giving people a range of options, right? “This can't continue. I don't want this anymore. I don't even know how to explain it. But I know that this other thing is right now impossible, and this other thing is something I really, really want. I want to be unselfconscious around you. I want to be able to dream a future with you, or father... I want to be able to talk about money with you. I want to be able to talk about your drinking with you. I want us to heal together.”

Kasia: Whatever it is, “I want to polka dot dress and a pony,” it doesn't matter. The point is, if you're putting your attention on the obstacle to what you want, without mentioning what you want, you're not making a request that somebody else can step up to nor wants to fulfill on. Again, not positive and negative. This is about what you can pour your heart into, on both sides. You can pour your heart into a request like that, it gives them space and something they can pour their hearts into.

Nas: I'm going to be devil's advocate again. Probably the one thing I'm hearing a lot from women, especially in this post me too age is they want men to listen. Do you think that's too vague of a request?

Kasia: I think it's bullshit.

Nas: Okay.

Kasia: They don't want men to listen, they want more than that. They want men to listen, they want men to understand, and then they want men to speak, not from the place that they were in before they listened. They want to transform men, they want to change men. They want to be met, and heard, and they want men to act differently. They want so much more. Listening is one of those really safe requests. “I just want you to listen to me. I want to feel seen, and heard,” and it's great. It's a great first step. The moment you open your mouth and you feel unheard, you can say, “I don't feel heard. I want something more than this.” I talk a lot about how I train women to train men, and I get like a little bit of pushback. Like, oh, dominatrix, training women to train men. I fucking love it. But what it doesn't take into account is that we're always training people. We're always training ... again, this isn't victim blaming here, but we're always training people.

Nas: How to treat us.

Kasia: Yes. Which doesn't mean that if somebody slaps you in the face, you trained them to do that and you have to go, “oh, how did I do that?” No. But if you don't answer your phone before noon, you're training people not to call you before noon. So it's just... It's a very basic level thing. Now from my experience, there is a lot of men who are sitting on top of a lot of energy and motivation. The moment they're seen as potential allies, heroes, collaborators, and given something specific to do, they spring up and transform. Their best selves show up. This is not all men. We're all undergoing a huge process. But there is a lot of them.

Nas: The dilemma was how can men deal with more empowered women, are you saying it's more a case of women need to learn how to ask their men to do the work?

Kasia: Women need to learn how to direct men, influence men, command men, ask of men, invite men. Women know what women need. A woman knows what she needs and wants in shifting the status quo much better than what a man knows, because most of this shit is invisible to men. We know when we shut down and aren't saying something. We know when we want to break free. They don't know. That's part of the problem. So asking them to figure it out is just perpetuating the problem. But there are things men can do. How can a man deal with an empowered woman? He can ask a lot of questions. He can ask a lot of questions. Really, he can ask a lot of questions of empowered women, he can ask a lot of questions of the men in his life. “Hey, how are you dealing with this #metoo thing? How are you dealing with empowered women?” So you know, the conversation needs to happen in all places.

Nas: So that was Kasia Urbaniak, it's really weird, because after we did that recording, she and I went off to have some food together, and I was basically... It was quite a transformative evening to be honest. It was earlier this summer, and I had been really angry about several different situations in my life, right?

Dan: All involving men.

Nas: Not all involving men, actually, no. They weren't all involving men. But they were also a people dynamic situations and stuff. But situations where I was just like very annoyed, a few different people about a few different things. You know, all this rage was just going around me. Kasia was great in terms of just like dealing with exactly what is going on, like breaking it down. Let's break down what you actually want to say to person A. Just breaking it down, breaking it down. What do you want to say to person B? Just breaking it down.

Nas: It kind of, it was amazing, because after those conversations, like one by one, I talked to like a bunch of people, and I was quite clear about what I was annoyed about, and what I wanted them to do. That thing of having a clear ask is amazing. It's incredible how people react to that, 'cause you're not just getting, you know when she said people ask for respect, or to listen, and that's so vague? I was saying to people, “I'm annoyed at X. I want Y, or I need you to help me to figure out Z.” You know? It's like not only do you feel better, but you feel kind of like you're being more respectful to the other person, they react better, just the whole thing was so transformative.

Dan: Yeah, I mean, people love tasks. Right?

Nas: Yeah. Yeah. It was clear. It wasn't just like, undirected rage. It was just clear. But even what she said, like with one person, I was like, “I don't really know what I want. But you need to help me figure this out.” It was like, amazing, because they just ... This was a woman. She just stepped up and was like, “okay, cool, well here are some suggestions.” I was like, wow. Like basically overnight, like, Kasia and her method, completely changed things.

Dan: Yeah. I mean, the two big things that I really appreciated from that, and which I've ... I wasn't present for the conversation, but I've listened to it probably three times and taken notes, because she was so amazing.

Nas: So good, so good.

Dan: But really, something that really strikes me is how much she talked about isolation. It sounds like that that's kind of the thing that you had, right? You had all of this stuff going on in your head, and the problem is when I'm the only one that I'm talking to about something, it's really hard to figure out what's true and what's false. It's until I say it out loud to another person that I... Or even sometimes just writing it down. But I have to get it like out of me before I can actually figure out what the truth is. Then the other part is that like there is this core piece of humanity that yearns to be helpful. She talked about that, where when women ask men for what they want, but they only ask for 40%, or 60%, or 95%, and then we do our best to deliver, and it's not enough. People want to be helpful. So if we go to them, and we say, I need you to do X to result in me having Y, they go, “sign me up.” People love a task.

Nas: Or they say no.

Dan: Or they say no.

Nas: Like it's clear, right?

Dan: Yeah. Then you cut that person out of your life because they're dead weight.

Nas: But let's tie this to what's going on right now. So I'm thinking like women really pissed off at a lot of dynamics, you know, you being the representative of all straight, white men.

Dan: Yeah.

Nas: Not a big task or anything.

Dan: Nah, it's fine.

Nas: How does that feel though, for you guys? There is all this ... You know, we talked about mess. There is all this women having to get this stuff out. Yeah. How does it feel for you guys? Do you feel like if there was an ask ... I love the bit where she said, you know, you want to sit down, tell someone, “I'm going to tell you for the next hour all the reasons I'm angry at you, I want you to go away to think about it, let's come back.” I thought that was pretty, wow. That makes sense.

Dan: Yeah. I don't know what I would do if my girlfriend did that. That would be really intense. I mean, I would do my best, I think.

Nas: But what about socially? How do you feel about all of this female rage? Are you guys feeling like we don't really know what to do?

Dan: At times, yeah. But you know, I think I've managed to put myself into enough conversations, which I think is something that goes back to that isolation idea. She said a lot of men in this area isolate, they don't know how to talk about it. It's an uncomfortable thing to be around for, right? Especially like she said, I'm the bad guy, you know? My face is the problem in modern society. Really, honestly, going back to really any society, my face has been the problem. But the only thing that's going to solve anything is perspective. The only way to get perspective is to join a conversation about the problem ... Actually, you can join a conversation about anything, and eventually the problem will come up. But it has to be a diverse conversation. First of all, it can't just be me and other white dudes. Second, it has to just be other people. It can't just be me talking to me, because me talking to me gets me to that place where I want to come out successful, which is what she brought up again.

Nas: You see, this is the thing, in a sense, I feel that as women, it's not bad to be warning men that this is going to be messy for a while.

Dan: Right.

Nas: So expect that we're going to be having some conversations, and we're going to be pissed at men, and we're going to be pissed for a while. I don't know, I feel like that prepares the other side for what's to come.

Dan: Setting reasonable expectations, and frankly, I say, you know, you want to under promise and over deliver, right? So saying like this is going to be messy for a long time, and then if it's not, maybe that... Again, I think we need to be specific, right? Like she said, we can't just say it's going to be messy for a while. It has to be-

Nas: Okay, well, to be specific, I'd say women have a lot of things they're angry about that they want men to listen and to understand, and to in some ways, to feel bad about as well. I think, at least the women I know, we feel like, you know, when, I don't know, we're telling men, “oh, these are the ways in which you silence us.” I don't really want a guy to give me an apology right now. I actually want him to go away and to feel it, to feel how that is, because I think that's the only way you really comprehend the enormity of something.

Nas: Yeah, sometimes I'm just like, “okay, we're going to say all this stuff, we're going to tell you how we feel,” and we want you to go away and to feel scared, and to feel bad, and to feel worried, because that's our experience all the time. Maybe once you experience that for a little bit, you will be more empathetic, and you will be more helpful. Or you can only be more helpful once you have had those experiences. This whole thing of loads of men are scared of how to act. I'm like, yeah, in a way, that's kind of good, because women are constantly having to sort of like walk on eggshells to not be in dangerous situations. I think it's important for men to actually feel how difficult and exhausting that is.

Dan: Yeah.

Nas: So yeah, I kind of want guys to feel that.

Dan: It's like men are scared of how to act, and it's like, well, women are scared to live on a ground floor apartment.

Nas: Right. Exactly. So yeah, I just love the clarity of what she was saying. But I will say one thing, though. It is interesting, because I do think, as women, okay, yeah, we do ask badly, that's true. But I think women, we face such penalties for asking as well, and I wonder if this mirrors the fact that so many men have been like you know, emotionally detached, to play it cool, to act as though they don't need anything from anyone. So someone who clearly says, “hey, I need X” is kind of quite threatening in a way.

Dan: Yeah, like I said, if I was sat down and told “I'm going to tell you everything I'm mad at for 20 minutes, and then I want you to go away for an hour-”

Nas: Would you come back?

Dan: I would be so confused, because that's not-

Nas: Isn't that better than someone just raging at you though? Someone is just like, I'm-

Dan: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, I guess. Yeah. If you want to bookend it. That's better than not. But it's so uncommon, do you know what I mean? Just to what you were saying, the way that I was raised, I, obviously, not all men or whatever they say. But the way that I was raised, and I assume most men were raised, people don't talk to me like that.

Nas: Okay.

Dan: Do you know what I mean?

Nas: Right.

Dan: People just don't.

Nas: But if someone is that clear, is it refreshing to you?

Dan: I don't know.

Nas: Yeah, yeah.

Dan: I would like to think so.

Nas: Maybe this needs to be tested out a little bit.

Dan: Because I typically get the thing that she was talking about, which is the “maybe we could do this once in a while?” Which is really frustrating.

Nas: Yeah, yeah, 'cause it's like, oh, guilt inducing, drag.

Dan: It's like, yeah. What I want to say is “if you want something just tell me and I'll fucking do it.”

Nas: Right. Right.

Dan: But then the other part of me is like, “well, don't talk to me like that.” So I don't know what I want. I have a lot to think about right now.

Nas: No, it's funny, because it reminds me of whenever I deal with really passive aggressive guys who don't know how to say yes or no, and their answer to everything is “uh, sure,” or, uh, “yeah, I suppose.” I'm like, is that yes or no?

Dan: Yeah.

Nas: Is it a yes or a no? Let's just be clear of what is going on here.

Dan: Yeah. Coming from a sales world thing that I do, if somebody says maybe to me, my favorite thing to say is “maybe usually means maybe not. What are you trying to say?”

Nas: Oh, yeah, yeah. That's a good one. So my takeaway was to kind of figure out... It's interesting, not just with men, because the exercises I had with her were with men and women. Just kind of like figure out what I'm trying to say to someone, and try and kind of break it down, and ask them to step up. Clearly say, I need you to help me figure this out. I don't know. It's just... it's been so transformative chatting to her.

Dan: I think that people are more the same than they're different, including across gender, sex, what have you. People want to be spoken to the same, you know what I mean? There is going to be slight variance in language, right? Be it actual language or simply types of communication. But people want directness, people want candidness. We're all so afraid of how everyone is going to react to the thing that we say, that we try to sidestep direct contact and make things really safe. What that ends up doing-

Nas: That ends up vague, and then no one knows what they're doing.

Dan: Exactly. Exactly. No one knows what to give you if you don't ask for it.

Nas: Yeah. So ask, and you'll either get it or you won't. That's okay, 'cause then you know what you're doing.

Dan: That's it. That's it. Thanks for listening. Just ask. See you next time.

Dan: You heard from Kasia Urbaniak from this episode of the Gender Knot.

Nas: It was hosted by me, I'm Nastaran Tavakoli-Far], or Nas in short.

Dan: And I'm Daniel Carol, or Dan in short. Our co producers are Sam Baker and Jonathan Blackwell.

Nas: We're going to be back next week with more, speak to you then.

Dan: Bye.