Fact: no means no. There’s not a lot of room for ambiguity in that statement, but a lot of young men try to look for loopholes anyway when trying to pressure girls into dating, affection, sex, and one of the most common is this: if you keep asking long enough, and “no” finally turns into “okay, fine”, that’s legit.
There are a lot of places we can assign some blame for the idea that there’s a “yes” lurking somewhere inside every “no”, as if rejection is coal and attention and affection are a diamond and enough pressure can finally turn one into the other. We have movies like Twilight and its hideous demon offspring 50 Shades of Grey that suggest what “no” really means is “chase me, I’m playing hard to get.” We have the cultural expectation that men are somehow entitled to attention from girls and women, whether that’s demanding smiles from them on the subway or making them turn down a request for a date time after time after time. There’s a lot of tributaries flowing into this giant river of male entitlement, and stopping them all at the source doesn’t always seem possible. But one YouTube blogger is doing her part to fight back against that tide, with a video directed at one young man who won’t take her daughter’s “no” for an answer.
The blogger’s name is Doe Eyes, and she’s captured in words exactly the message I want to drill into my son’s head when he’s old enough (and my daughter’s, for that matter). Real life is not Say Anything or 10 Things I Hate About You, where if you ask for long enough and/or look enough like a young John Cusack, a girl is going to eventually fall into your arms. Sure, in real life, a young woman might eventually give into your pursuit–but not so much because it’s romantic as because she’s scared of what you might do if she keeps saying no, or because she’s too exhausted to fight you on it anymore.
Even if we pay a lot of lip service to the idea of “no means no”, we’re constantly undermining it as a society with the other things we tell boys: “go get her, tiger!” and “don’t take no for an answer” and “if you want something, you have to fight for it”–even if that something happens to be a someone. No. Our daughters are not a prize to be chased down or an obstacle to be surmounted. They’re people, human beings in their own right. And anyone climbing up to the top of their mountains of “no’s” is not a romantic hero, he’s just some creep who won’t stop harassing her.
Young women aren’t vending machines who just need to be shaken to make a stuck “Yes, I love you now!” fall out. This video’s is something we cannot put out into the cultural ether enough. Because if there’s something that needs to be repeated time and again, it’s not a request for a kiss or a date, it’s this: No means no the first time it’s said, and that should be the only time it needs to be said.
(Image: BananaStock / Getty)