Parents Furious Over 'Misogynist' Dating Assignment That Encouraged Girls to Be 'Lady-Like'
Parents are up in arms about an assignment in an 11th-grade "adult roles and financial literacy" class in Utah that sent students out on $5.00 dates, ostensibly with students of the opposite sex. Jenn Oxborrow, who has a daughter in the class, posted a photo on Facebook of the handout the class was given with instructions for a date, assigned by her teacher at Highland High School in Salt Lake City. According to Oxborrow, the assignment was an example of Utah Department of Education-sponsored misogyny.
Students were instructed to go out on a date and were only allowed to spend $5.00 (not including gas). They were told they could go in groups to help their money go farther and were required to write a brief "summary of the date activities" when they returned.
"Thanks for educating our kids, Utah Department of Education," Oxborrow wrote in the Facebook post, which has been shared nearly 2000 times. "We really appreciate your evidence-based misogyny." The post has garnered more than 1000 comments, many of them bordering on hysteria about the "hetero-normative" expectations of the school and the antiquated views of women.
Highland's adult roles and financial literacy class is required for graduation under state law. The school's principal, Chris Jenson, told The Salt Lake Tribune that the handouts, included in the "Purposes of Dating" portion of the state curriculum database, were not intended to be followed to the letter.
Let me begin by saying my kids didn't date while in high school. We encouraged them to avoid casual dating and relationships and to invest in good friendships until they were ready to start thinking about marriage, so I would have objected to the assignment on the grounds that it was pushing kids to prematurely pursue something that not all were ready for or planning on. Not to mention that it's the job of the parents to educate their kids about dating, not the public schools.
But that's not what most of the hysterical overreactions to this assignment have been about.
What are the harpies (almost all of them women, I should note) so freaked out about? They're upset that their daughters are being encouraged to act "lady-like" on a date and told that they shouldn't use vulgar language or flirt with other guys. On the handout it clearly says that these are suggestions "from the Guys," which sent the (I guess) anti-lady snowflakes scurrying to their safe spaces so they could begin launching their attacks on this sensible dating advice.
The handout is hard to read, so here are some of the items on the list:
- If you don't want to go out with the guy, tell him. Don't make up excuses
- Eat the food you order. Don't waste his money
- Don't be overly concerned about how much or little money he is spending
- Don't worry about your appearance the whole date
- Don't fish for compliments
- If you think you're too fat, etc. keep it to yourself
- Don't stay in the bathroom forever (try not to go in groups)
- Dress appropriately for the date
- Be feminine and lady-like, don't use vulgar language or swear
- Don't talk about, flirt, text, or check out other guys when on a date
- Give him a chance to be gentlemanly (wait for him to open the door)
Let's try an experiment. Go find some single guys and ask them if they'd rather go on a date with the girl who follows the guidelines above or with some ill-mannered, vulgar, manspreading girl who complains about her weight the whole night, flirts with the guy at the next table, and makes him feel like a sexual predator for trying to opening the restaurant door for her.
To read some of the comment on Facebook you'd think that the handout was encouraging boys to drag girls to their caves by their hair:
- You have every right to be outraged. If a teacher did something like this at any school I ever taught at, they would be fired. This assignment shows complete lack of understanding of student diversity, women's (and men's) rights, and what even is the learning goal for this assignment?! To obey gender norms? This is disgusting and distasteful.
- I think that the written words on the assignment speak for themselves. I don't care how you think the teacher "softened" the assignment-- "be feminine and ladylike" --"wait for him to open the door" etc.... were fighting words when I was a teenager many years ago, and even more so now. Not to mention that there is no place here for gay or gender non-comforming people at all.
- I AM SCREAMING THIS CANT BE REAL
- Holy mofo - this turns my stomach. I'm trying everything not to spew a ton of curse words. Are we reverting to the 50s? Did Trump write this lesson??
- This assignment it's [sic] completely irrelevant and damaging to girls [sic] mental and emotional development in a very important stage of their life. It sets the standard back, like decades. It's outdated and should be updated. Like 90% of primary education material, to be honest.
- I'm f**king married and this assignment is retarded. If my son brought home an assignment like this (not really sure why it's up to the school to teach kids how to date; that's my f**king job) the principal would be getting a call. You're an idiot and nobody should be expected to conform to your "gender norms." It has nothing to do with political correctness. Times have changed and so has the social dynamic, this isn't the f**king fifties anymore. Get with it or continue to sound like a narrow-minded old fool. Your choice.
She sounds fun.
If you're thinking the boys got off too easily in this class, you'd be mistaken. They had their own date "to-do" list, compiled by the girls.
- Use good manners
- Chew with mouth closed
- No gross noises
- Makes plans for the date and let the girl know what they are doing
- Don't gripe about the money you're spending or don't have
- Don't spend too much time talking about things she's not interested in or about yourself
- Girls like flowers and little gifts
- Look out for her well-being on a date, be considerate
- Don't drive recklessly
- Don't talk about, flirt with, text, or check out other girls when on a date
Why this deserves a collective Internet freak-out, I have no idea. The lists actually show a fairly good understanding of the differences between genders and how each likes to be treated. If anyone bothered to ask today's young people—and they didn't have to fear the SJWs and PC police turning them in—they'd tell you this. These are just basic suggestions for treating people with common decency and respect and for exhibiting good manners when you're out on a date. The list gives kids who have grown up in a hook-up culture some concrete guidelines for proper behavior (beyond "swipe left if she's ugly"). As far as I can tell, no one held a gun to any boy's head in this class and forced him to hold a door open for a girl, and no girl was forced to clean her plate on a date. So everyone can just chill.
Dale Carnegie's classic book How to Win Friends and Influence People lists six ways to make people like you:
- Become genuinely interested in other people
- Remember that a person's name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language
- Be a good listener. Encourage others to talk about themselves
- Talk in terms of the other person's interests
- Make the other person feel important—and do it sincerely
I suppose that advice, given in 1936, sounds antiquated and even backward to our modern me-first sensibilities, but really, it's good advice for life and for dating—and much of it is reflected in the handouts from Highland High School. But let's be honest. Everything in our culture encourages our kids to be self-centered and to put their needs and desires above all else. The unhappy women commenting on these handouts are encouraging their daughters to be self-centered, narcissistic, and even unpleasant—and thinking this is somehow virtuous! They truly believe there's something sick and twisted about wanting people to like you and desiring to make other people happy. But good luck forging solid, healthy relationships when you're only in it for yourself and no one wants to be around you—and when you freakin' have a tantrum every time a guy wants to open a door for you.
On the other hand, if you teach your kids to be unselfish—to be genuinely interested in what others have to say and care about their needs—they're going to be much happier in life and have much better relationships. And as an added bonus, they'll be a lot more pleasant to be around.