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international women’s day: no means no

This week one of my favourite YouTubers, Dr. Lindsay Doe, made it to the front page of Upworthy with her video ‘Dear Boy Who Likes My Daughter’. Dr. Doe usually fronts the channel Sexplanations, where she provides accurate sexual education, and often vents her frustration at the lack of education in the United States and across the world. However, this video comes from her side-channel, DoeEyes, where she makes personal vlogs.

In this video, she presents the situation: her young teen daughter has an admirer. That’s okay. It’s when he won’t stop pestering her, even after she’s said ‘No, thank you,’ that it becomes a problem. Dr. Doe lays out in no uncertain terms that no means no, and if anyone tells you to stop, you should do so.

‘If someone tells you “no” in anyway, and you ask again, it’s not cool, it’s not attractive, it’s not respectful. It’s harassment.’

It’s amazing to see this message getting such attention in the lead up to International Women’s Day. While consent is important for all genders, the harassment of women is a problem throughout the world, and as the Does’ story illustrates, it’s a problem that starts in childhood. While there are many parents, such as Dr. Doe, who are teaching their children the meaning of consent, many others never have that conversation with their kids. They leave it to schools, or to society, to teach their children that lesson, but society often gives mixed messages.

In the video, Dr. Doe says: ‘You probably picked up from society messages about how if you want something you need to try harder, go at it, do whatever you can to get it. Don’t give up!’

But her daughter isn’t an “it”. Women are not something you can just persist with or work hard at and you’ll eventually get. We’re not a promotion, or a nice car, or a degree. We are not the ultimate prize that the hero wins at the end, no matter how many films or games present us that way. Each of us is a person. And like other people, if we’re saying ‘no’ we mean ‘no’.

It may come as a surprise to some people, but women aren’t more or less complicated than any other gender. On International Women’s Day, we should focus on listening to each other, and ensuring we always have mutual consent in our interactions. And no matter their gender, we need to teach our children about consent and harassment to ensure a brighter future for everyone.

For more information about International Women’s Day, you can head here.

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