Relationship-focused author/speaker Justin Lookadoo has been touring middle schools, high schools, and colleges with his motivational speeches for nearly 17 years. He’s published numerous books on identity, self-worth, and how both apply to dating. He encourages young people to embark on romantic relationships. Now suddenly, he’s in the crosshairs of a North Texan high school — and not for the reasons one might think.
The students and parents of Richardson High School claim that, during a school assembly, Lookadoo spelled out an ideology that marginalized girls and empowered boys. As one female student put it, Lookadoo was “essentially lacing sexism in his humor.” Dallas News reports that the speech consisted of Lookadoo saying “that girls are far nastier than boys [and] that girls (and women) tend to tear down successful members of their own gender far more than boys (or men).”
Lookadoo’s books include Dateable: Are You? Are They? and The Dateable Rules: A Guide to the Sexes. What exactly did Richardson High School think it was signing up for when they recruited the guy to speak in front of the student body? Lookadoo makes a decent point to the local NBC affiliate in an attempt to defend himself, “It is empowering the students to actually take control of their relationships.”
And it is. Richardson High School took a bold chance hiring someone with a background in relationship coaching (and crime prevention — Lookadoo is a former juvenile probation officer) to speak to young people, to actually encourage intimate and romantic interaction between students. But is a conservative thinker the right person to deliver that progressive speech? The principal of Richardson High thought so.
Most of Lookadoo’s rules and advice on dating stems from his Christian background. His writings have been motivated by countering common representations of relationships and providing a plan for dating under God’s principles. Which is not so bad, until you dig up Lookadoo’s code of conduct — the rules that set a fire under the parents of Richardson off. Advice to help girls become datable include:
Accept Your Girly-ness
You’re a girl. Be proud of all that means. You are soft, you are gentle, 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 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.
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 girls know that guys need to be needed. A Dateable girl isn’t Miss Independent. She knows we are made for community. Needing each other is part of faith. She allows him to be needed at times, knowing he was called to serve just as much as she was.
And for the boys…
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.
Men of God are Wild, Not Domesticated
Dateable guys aren’t tamed. They don’t live by the rules of the opposite sex. They fight battles, conquer lands, and stand up for the oppressed.
Keep It Covered Up
Dateable guys know that porn is bad for the spirit and the mind. They keep women covered up.
The principal at Richardson High was aware that Lookadoo’s material was steeped in religion and the agreement was that God wouldn’t factor into his presentation (it would actually be unlawful to preach religion in a public school). But in the end, parents traced back the speaker’s lessons to his Christian-themed “do’s and don’ts.” And they weren’t happy. And since when did God turn into such a sexist jerk?
Matt Patches is a writer and reporter living in New York City. His work has been featured on Vulture, Time Out New York, and The Hollywood Reporter. He is the host of the pop culture podcast Operation Kino.