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Mindy Kaling’s Dating Advice for Guys Is Chilling, but There’s One Big Problem

What’s it gonna take for guys to stop being such assholes (in general, but specifically on dates)? Mindy Kaling has an idea.

The Office, Mindy Project and current Ocean’s 8 star delivered the commencement address at her alma Dartmouth on Saturday, proffering advice on everything from the rigors of motherhood to the folly of to-do lists. But perhaps her most practical and necessary piece of advice was about how men should comport themselves on dates with women:

“This one is just for guys: When you go on dates, act as if every woman you’re talking to is a reporter for an online publication that you’re scared of. One shouldn’t need the threat of public exposure and scorn to treat women well; but if that’s what it’s gonna take, fine. Date like everyone’s watching, because we are.”

Let’s preface this by saying that in an ideal world, Kaling’s advice wouldn’t be necessary. And that it even bears saying—in an Ivy League graduation speech, nonetheless — is a testament to how prevalent this mistreatment is. And that people shouldn’t need the threat of reputational damage to act with the slightest amount of human decency. And that operating from a place of fear is almost always unhealthy.

But most importantly: Has Kaling paid attention to how female reporters are actually treated? Not just by men in society, but by their own male colleagues? Not only is sexual harassment apparently rampant in media, but the women who do speak up risk coordinated social media abuse and internal smear campaigns — even, allegedly, at the New York Times. It doesn’t matter if “everyone’s watching” when the men accused of misconduct keep their jobs and reputations intact while the watchdogs are punished.

That said, if the threat of being the subject of a #MeToo takedown in Jezebel is potentially career-ending and life-altering enough to keep men from being abusers and motivation enough for them to improve and behave admirably and treat women with a proper amount of respect, decency and humanity, we must take it.