For me, the answer to this is an obvious “yes.” But I can also understand why it might not be so obvious to you. We were all born and raised into a social system where men are expected to be the pursuers, and women are expected to sit back passively, look pretty, and hope to eventually be the object of Mr. Right's pursuit. It's a system that dates back to when men were all primitive hunters, and women were either housewives or housewives-to-be. A lot of people are comfortable with their roles in this system, but increasingly, in modern times, people of both sexes are becoming disillusioned with it.
Boys are taught early on that they'll be competing against each other for everything in life, and that they'll have to be aggressive and self-interested to get what they want. We embrace that philosophy to varying degrees. The ones who are most comfortable and achieve the most success with it, are, as you may have discovered through experience, usually a*****es. That's the first reason why you, as a woman, should seriously consider asking out the men you like: the men most likely to ask you out are also the most likely to be a*****es.
Of course everyone fears rejection. For men, this fear is not hypothetical; we've actually been rejected by women, dozens if not hundreds of times. We've been “manning up” and suppressing a lot emotional pain from it, and continuing on, because there is no alternative. I tell you this to reassure you: As a woman, your chances of rejection are much, much lower than ours. When you let a man know you're interested in him, you're taking a small risk of rejection yourself, but for him, you're breaking a soul-killing cycle of repeated rejection. Your interest is an aphrodisiac to him; you give him such an instantaneous ego boost and rush of relief, chances are slim that he would even consider turning you down for a date.
Now I know you're probably not a supermodel. It's a harsh truth that men will judge you by your looks early on. If you ask a man out and he turns you down, that will probably be the reason. Should you let this deter you from approaching the guy you've had your eye on for a date? Please don't. He will understand that your feelings are on the line, and if he has to say no, at least he won't be cruel about it. The worst that can happen is that you'll have to take a few polite rejections in stride, and your dating experience may start to feel like it does for a typical man. Well, men are ugly, so we can't rely on our looks. We know that our best chance at long-term happiness is to take the risk, somehow get a date, and parlay that into something more by showing a fun personality during the date. If you think that strategy can't or won't work for you, you're wrong, and you've already given up on happiness.
Here's one more reason why you shouldn't be afraid to ask a man on a date, and this one isn't steeped in the psychology of pain and rejection: If you're the one asking, you get to choose what the date is. Pick a destination you really like, and the experience will probably be more fun for both of you. When men ask women out, they don't choose to do what they want to do; they grasp at straws to come up with some activity that will impress the woman. You can skip all that uncertainty and show him what you're like when you're in your element. He'll appreciate that.
The bottom line is, we're all a little more likely to find the right mate if we don't just work one side of the equation. Somewhere, there's a man who would be mutually attracted to you, but for any one of a hundred reasons, he'll never approach you for a date. You have the power to make him and yourself happy. You just have to be brave and give it a try.