When a girl says no, she means no. That’s the message one mom is sending to a teenage boy who is romantically pursuing her daughter despite the fact that the young girl has rebuffed him multiple times.
YouTube blogger and sexual educator Dr. Lindsey Doe, who blogs under the name “Doe Eyes,” recently posted a video titled “Dear Boy Who Likes My Daughter,” speaking directly to the boy (whom she doesn’t name). She said, “Dear boy who likes my daughter. I don’t like how you treat [my daughter.] Are you confused? You probably picked up messages from society about how when you want something, you have to ‘try harder, go at it, do whatever you can to get it. Don’t give up!’ Maybe it’s for this reason that you repeatedly ask my daughter out. In the halls, on the bus, and you write her poems.”
Doe, a former professor at the University of Montana in Missoula, may sound harsh at first, but she clarifies, explaining that if a girl says “I don’t know” in response to a boy’s advances, he should give her space to think about it. If a young woman’s response is “maybe,” the man could ask her to explain her uncertainty. If she wants the boy to ask her again later, he should do so later. Anything else, she dubs “harassment.”
The video, which has racked up more than 136,000 views and 1,000 likes since it was posted to YouTube in late February, has sparked mixed reaction with commenters suggesting that the school should settle the issue rather than a parent. Others criticized the mom for publicly shaming the boy. Others called Doe’s message “perfect” and praised her for being a “great mom.”
One commenter also raised this point: That pop culture illustrates romance with a male protagonist pursing a woman who doesn’t seem interested. And it’s true — in romantic comedies, a man will relentlessly chase his uninterested target, sabotaging her dating prospects, stalking her friends, and sprinting through airports to stop her plane from taking off (even when she’s leaving the country). Hit songs such as “Blurred Lines” also muddle the concept of consent with lyrics such as, “You know you want it.”
Doe’s video has sparked controversy similar to a story involving a Minneapolis father named Brad Knudson who. in January, posted a video on YouTube blasting the teens who bullied his 14-year-old daughter in a Snapchat video. He provided identifying information about his daughter’s tormenters — including their hometown, the fact that they’re twin siblings, and even their faces — as he played the Snapchat video for the camera. Knudson’s video earned more than 7 million views and an apology from the bullies’ family; Knudson himself was called both “Super Dad” and a “bully.”
Whether or not these parental messages are teachable moments is debatable. On the one hand, it’s obvious that Doe’s intention was to protect her daughter, whose participation in the video (she yells off-camera “No thanks!” and “Go away!”) shows that she supports her mother. But while there’s nothing inherently wrong with Doe’s message, airing a private issue online may cause more harm than intended, says Beverly Hills based psychotherapist Bethany Marshall, PhD. “If the mother works in education, she has resources to resolve the matter before going to social media,” Marshall tells Yahoo Parenting. “Did she meet with the boy and his parents? Has she notified the school or the authorities? Is there documentation of his behavior? There are proper channels for reporting harassment and stalking.”
What’s more, Doe has a large online presence. If someone wanted to identify the boy, it may be possible through an Internet search. “There’s also an ethical consideration,” adds Marshall. “If the boy has a mental disorder that’s just beginning to reveal itself, putting this information online can also victimize him.”
And while Doe’s message is an important one, only time will tell if social media will help or hurt her daughter’s cause.