OK, so picture this. You’re in high school, and you and your classmates are shepherded to an assembly. In your head you’re thinking, I could get a solid one-hour nap in, or sit next to my latest crush, or maybe, just possibly LEARN something. Instead, you are subjected to old-fashioned misogynistic views on gender and relationships. You are so outraged, that you turn to Twitter to express your opinions:
That’s right, the student body was clearly upset over speaker Justin Lookadoo’s presentation, and their commentary on Twitter using the hashtag #lookadouche captured national attention. NY Mag makes an excellent point right off the bat: “There’s nothing like a bunch of righteous teens to make you believe in the democratic power of Twitter again.”
So the high school students are freakin out, the parents are freakin out, the media is freakin out, the Richardson High School administration realized they should have been freakin out, and why? Because this guy should never have been giving his presentation in the first place, especially not with public dollars.
One glance at his previous publications and website will reveal what many are calling sexist, creepy, religious leanings. Lookadoo is being strongly criticized for content on his website, such as his Datable Rules, such as, for girls, “Be mysterious. Dateable girls know how to shut up. They don’t monopolize the conversation. They don’t tell everyone everything about themselves. They save some for later. They listen more than they gab.” For the guys, rule No. 1 is, “Being a guy is good. Dateable guys know they aren’t as sensitive as girls and that’s okay. They know they are stronger, more dangerous, and more adventurous and that’s okay. Dateable guys are real men who aren’t afraid to be guys.” (I hope you’re freakin out just reading that!)
However, one Richardson High School student is right: Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, including Justin Lookadoo, regardless of the extent of our disagreement. Her post provides an excellent summary of why Lookadoo’s presentation was so egregious, but I think she was a tad forgiving at the end. We should judge him for presenting his opinions as information. Sure, he was sharing his opinions (and per the assembly agreement did NOT mention his dateable rules), but from the students’ accounts of the assembly he presented his opinions and ideas as factual statements in the context of an educational presentation on relationships and dating violence, and from what I have gathered from the other articles, he made blanket assumptions about an entire gender rather than providing examples of individual experiences. In contrast, a mindful, effective educator should present actual facts and engage their audience in critical thinking about cultural assumptions while also affirming individual expression of gender and sexual identity within a diverse range of experience. Granted, this is tough to do in a one-hour, school-wide assembly, so the complimentary recommendation is to engage youth in smaller groups so that meaningful discussion can help individuals come to their own conclusions about the topic. Take-home message for schools and educators: assemblies are not an effective method of learning about a complex topic such as relationships.
Props to those students for standing up, walking out, and calling this guy out. This is an excellent example of how freakin out can make change happen…people are calling for the cancelation of Lookadoo’s upcoming presentations, and I bet he doesn’t have another assembly any time soon.