There are many sources of good advice for teenagers making their way through life. The founder of an escort agency who openly promoted prostitution probably isn’t one of them.
A school in Houston apparently didn’t get that memo. Gregory-Lincoln Middle School is now under fire for printing a questionable quote on its hallway wall, and how the text got approved is making many people scratch their heads.
“The more you act like a lady, the more he’ll act like a gentleman,” declared a large stenciled quote above student lockers at the school, according to KHOU News.
That quote has been attributed to Sydney Biddle Barrows, a New York “madame” who ran one of the most famous escort agencies in the Manhattan area.
“The business, according to the Manhattan district attorney’s office, was ‘the largest prostitution ring known to the organized crime control bureau of the police department . . . It grossed more than $1 million a year,'” reported The Washington Post in 1984.
That’s the year Barrows’ escort service was shut down by authorities. Shortly after, she pleaded guilty to promoting prostitution.
Yes, you read that right: A middle school just printed advice meant for prostitutes to better please their Johns as sage wisdom for teenage girls.
Unsurprisingly, feminists expressed serious outrage after a photo of the school hallway quotation was posted online.
“It’s perpetuating horrible gender stereotypes, shaming women, and relinquishing boys of all responsibility. It’s sexist, mysogonistic, and discriminatory!” declared Lisa Beckman, who described herself as an “Accidental Activist” on Twitter.
Even setting aside the connection to New York’s red-light underworld, it’s hard to deny that the quote contains some pretty bad advice. After all, it’s essentially putting all responsibility for good actions on girls, and implying that if a man isn’t acting gentlemanly, it’s the female’s fault.
Yes, women should aspire to act like ladies, but men should seek to be gentlemen of their own accord. It isn’t a one-sided equation.
“To me it meant that girls need to take responsibility, not only for their own actions, but for whatever the boys to us as well and I just didn’t feel like that was an image of the equality and self-determination that, we as a district or myself as a mother, want to portray,” an unidentified teacher at the school told KHOU.
At the same time, it’s certainly possible that the person who approved the quote didn’t realize its shady origin, and perhaps deserves the benefit of the doubt that their intention was not sexist.
“The quote does not align with HISD values, and it will be taken down,” the school district acknowledged, according to Fox News.
Lesson learned: The next time a place of learning paints bold letters on the wall, it’s probably best to give them more than a half-second of thought first.
Oh, and it would help if they didn’t come from someone who managed prostitutes for a living. Call it common sense.
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