A school assembly speaker is gaining national attention. In Richardson, Texas, a high school brought in “motivational speaker and dating expert” Justin Lookadoo to speak to the students about relationships and dating. Lookadoo traverses the country speaking to students about the ins and outs, the perils and pitfalls of dating. Lookadoo gives teens a definitive answer on their status in the realm of dating. His quiz parallels with his “Dateable Rules,” some of which are textbook gender stereotypes and Christian theological distortions.
Here are a few of them:
Dateable Girl Rule 1: Accept your girliness. You’re a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, and you are a woman. Don’t try to be a guy. Guys like you because you are different from them. So let your girly-ness soar.
Dateable Girl Rule 6: 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.
Dateable Girl Rule 9: Let him lead. God made guys as leaders. Dateable girls get that and let him do guy things, get a door, open a ketchup bottle. They relax and let guys be guys. Which means they don’t ask him out!!!
Dateable Boy Rule 1: 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.
As you can imagine many parents had concerns about this particular speaker especially when they did not know about it or consent. Parents contacted the school and took to social media to spread the word about the assembly.
While reports have come out stating that the speaker did not speak about his religious beliefs, he did speak about the ins and outs of relationships.
To be honest, I think his “rules” are bogus. They come from a place where boys and girls are divided into classes and in the end boys win. Making girls out to be “damsels in distress” and boys are “heroic warriors looking for an adventure” doesn't equate a relationship.
Relationships are built upon respect and mutuality not antiquated thinking when it comes to gender roles.
This particularly hits home for me when it comes to Girl Rule #9.
Picture this: a 16-year-old husky, acne prone, tuba player who has a crush on a cute blond-haired girl he has been friends with for a while. While he is extroverted with his friends he can't seem to articulate the words to ask out this girl. Then one glorious day, this girl breaks rule #9 and ask him out to the movies! (I know Justin Lookadoo is gasping.) After that, they began to date; I am happy to say that I have been married to that beautiful blonde for nine years. Had my wife listened to Lookadoo's crazy rules, who knows if I would have ever have garnered enough intestinal fortitude to ask her out. If that had not happened, who knows what my life would be like today?
This is not Pleasantville where we live in a perfect Leave It to Beaver style world full of “awww shucks” and Dad smoking a pipe while reading the paper. This is the 21st century where we have advanced our notion of relationships to the point where we make them “official” by updating our statuses on Facebook. Girls need not be afraid of breaking some rule or social etiquette when it comes to dating. I am sure there are hundreds if not thousands of teenage boys hoping, just like I was, that a girl will ask them out. Girls, hear me, if you like someone, you have my permission to break rule 9 and ask them out, sooner rather than later. You never know what might come of it.
Lookadoo’s rules interject theology that many Christians do not stand for. Again this goes back to Rule 9, which claims that God made boys to be leaders. Okay, Mr. Lookadoo (I still have trouble believing that is your real last name), if this is the case then why in the biblical record do we find women in prominent roles of leadership, authority and at the heart of the Gospel? Should girls disregard the biblical stories that promote women in the same rolls as men? Deborah the Judge — get rid of her? Queen Ester — don't need her? Ruth — that’s just a nice story? The women who found Jesus’ tomb empty — I guess the men had “manly things” they had to take care of like hiding and running away.
Holding the view that women are just sideshow pieces to prop up the work of men is not found in the biblical record. Sure you can make it fit but you can do that with anything. (Also, some of the men found in the biblical record probably wouldn’t fit the bill of dateability either.)
Girls today need to be taught that there is a God who doesn’t favor boys more than them. If we are all created in the same image of God, created by the same loving God, and that same God knitted us in our mother's womb, then why would having two X chromosomes disqualify someone from serving, leading, taking charge and being a strong person?
Lookadoo believes he has uncovered the secret formula for relationships — yeah, he and every other author in Barnes & Nobles in the “Relationship” section.
It's time to empower teenagers and have meaningful conversations about dating, relationships and all the craziness that comes with it, not just a quiz to determine “are you dateable?”
Rev. Evan M. Dolive is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He is married to his high school sweetheart and has two children ages 3 and 1. He currently serves in Beaumont, Texas. He also blogs for Houston Belief, Good Men Project, and Radical Parents. For more information about Evan visit www.evandolive.com or find him on Twitter or Facebook.
Photo: Ammentorp Photography