Rules For Dating My Daughter


Tumblr-Kristine SpeareWhen I saw the buzzy Tumblr photo by Kristine Speare of her dad’s “Rules for Dating My Daughter” t-shirt, something bothered me about it.

I get why it is popular. The dad-joke that says “Sure, date my daughter. I’ll spend the time you’re out cleaning my gun,”  never resonated with me … and always seemed a little insulting. (And I was always glad I didn’t have to deal with that dad.)

But this guy makes a couple of critical errors. First, his “feminism” feels like a cop-out.

     When I saw his t-shirt I immediately wondered: Does he mean this?


Second, his “feminism” looks like sexism in disguise, like her body is a sex object.

      After all, no one would applaud if his t-shirt said this:


I too am a father of daughters … four, actually (and five sons!). So I got to wondering what my t-shirt would say. It would have to be something that respects the whole person, doesn’t just reduce dating to sex, and applies to both partners.

     Maybe this is what my shirt would say …


The views expressed here are those of the author, and do not necessarily represent the views of


About Author

Tom Hoopes is writer in residence at Benedictine College, in Atchison, Kansas, where he teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department and edits The Gregorian, a Catholic identity speech digest. He was previously editor of the National Catholic Register for 10 years and with his wife, April, of Faith & Family magazine for five. A frequent contributor to Catholic publications, he began his career as a reporter in the Washington, D.C., area and as press secretary for U.S. House Ways & Means Chairman Bill Archer. He lives in Atchison with his wife and those of his nine children still at home. The views and opinions expressed on this blog do not necessarily reflect those of Benedictine College or the Gregorian Institute.

1 Comment

  1. Maggie Cain on

    Why on earth do you think that if you substitute “my son” and “his rules” for “my daughter” and “her rules,” that people would not find that a message that resonates? Boys are the victims of sexual and physical assault on a regular basis. If a parent would have been wearing that a few decades ago when priests were blatantly molesting little boys and being shuffled around from parish to parish by the soon-to-be Pope, then maybe their sons would have understood better that it’s HIS body, HIS rules. If boys are are abused by their girlfriends (yes, it happens, usually with weapons to compensate for the physical imbalance) were to hear a stronger message that their bodies are sacred and are not to be abused, then maybe they’d leave those abusive girlfriends.

    No one is saying that respecting a girl’s wishes about her body is abdicating responsibility. The boy (and the father) have a responsibility to respect her rules; that’s the whole point of the tee-shirt. The “modesty” movement teaches young girls that men own their daughters’ bodies until they marry, then their husbands own them. It teaches that girls never, at any time in their lives, are in control of their sexuality – “you can’t say yes until you marry, then you can’t say no.” This is a horrible message.

    This entire post is just ridiculous. We need to teach children that THEY are in control of their bodies when it comes to their sexuality. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It starts in kindergarten with “no one can touch the parts of your body that are covered by a swim suit.” You don’t go teaching every freaking adult in the world not to touch your kid, because there’s 7 billion people in the world. You teach your child that their body is sacred and they have a right to stand up for themselves.

    The tee-shirt is for the daughter’s benefit, not the boy’s. I’m shocked that a reasonably intelligent adult is unaware of that.

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