Parents of Payson High School students are reportedly livid after a dating assembly that took place at the Arizona school. Or rather, a pair of dating assemblies, as male and female students attending the Arizona high school were segregated by gender, a practice that was, at least to some parents, an omen of the sexist and infuriating things to come.
As the Payson Roundup reports, the Arizona high school dating assembly got off to a bad start, and things only went downhill from there. Female high school students were subjected to a mandatory assembly regarding dating and relationships, and they were pulled from their classes during school hours to attend. Roughly 350 Arizona high school girls in total had to miss class to be lectured about the pitfalls of dating, all while their male counterparts continued with their scholarly education and were given the option of attending a totally voluntary dating assembly after school hours.
Only about 25 Payson High School boys decided to attend.
In addition to the attendance requirements (or lack thereof) regarding the Arizona high school dating assembly, parents were reportedly angry and taken aback by the content of information and advice given to students. According to students who attended the relationship advice sessions, boys and girls were given stunningly different dating advice.
According to parents, girls were told that boys can’t control themselves. As such, girls shouldn’t dress or act too provocatively in dating situations, at least according to the advice they received at the Arizona high school dating assembly. Why? Because boys can’t control their “God-given sexual urges.”
“The girl stands in the mirror and decides, ‘OK, this is war’ and she puts on spaghetti straps and mini skirts. What do you want the guys to look at — your eyes?”
Boys attending the Arizona high school assembly were reportedly not given advice as to how to control their urges and/or to respect females. Rather, they were given tips on how to get a second date.
No wonder some parents are none-too-happy about the situation. According to them, the Arizona high school assembly’s message was “lopsided,” and it unfairly taught the girls in attendance they should be responsible for how boys behave and the sexual choices boys make. In a nutshell, some parents are calling the Arizona high school dating assembly the “epitome of rape culture” in the United States.
“I was very disappointed to hear that there is a second assembly on relationships this afternoon that is mandatory for girls, but that the boys have an optional assembly after school. This sends a dual message that: It is acceptable for girls to miss their normal classes, but not the boys and that girls have more responsibility for whether a relationship is ‘good’ than boys.”
The Arizona high school dating assemblies were hosted by Brad Henning, a prolific public speaker who frequently gives similar presentations, titled “Don’t Take Love Lying Down,” at U.S. high schools. He’s been doing his job for 15 years and has come out in defense of his technique.
“Doing what I do you get asked questions over and over again. It’s not that I agree or disagree with the questions… some of the questions are embarrassing.”
According to Henning, he splits up his audience by gender so that students feel more comfortable asking whatever embarrassing questions they might have. Further, he defended his decision to force girls to miss class for the assembly while allowing boys the option of attending the event after school. Henning says that boys need “skin in the game,” and they often refuse to listen if they feel as though they aren’t given a choice.
Girls, on the other hand, reportedly tend to listen even if they had to miss school. No word on their missed educational opportunities or the time they have to spend making up class time that their male counterparts were privileged to receive while the girls were being forced to attend a mandatory dating assembly.
According to Henning, his popular talk, one that has been given to high school students around the country for 15 years and counting, sprang from his work with a “church youth group.” Further, he asserted that parents had the option of opting their children out of the Arizona high school dating assembly.
As part of the Arizona high school dating assembly, presenter Henning told girls that they were responsible for not “turning a guy on” with their clothing or behavior.
“In response to a question, Henning explained that guys are sexual so the species won’t die out, while girls have a low sex drive so the planet will not get overpopulated.”
According to sexual assault victims groups, the message sent to boys and girls at the Arizona high school dating assemblies was a dangerous, victim-shaming one. Reportedly, at no point in either dating assembly did Henning suggest that males should take responsibility for their own sexual urges and actions, nor did he ever suggest to either the boys or girls that males shouldn’t rape or sexually assault a female because of her attire.
“Groups such as Students Active for Ending Rape (SAFER) say that placing the responsibility on women and girls places the blame for rape and assault on the wrong person.”
During the boys’ Arizona high school dating assembly, attended by roughly 25 students, male students were reportedly given dating advice. In fact, Henning reportedly even told the male Payson High School students how many of the 350 girls who had attended the earlier mandatory dating assembly were single (and presumably “available”).
“Out of 350 girls in this auditorium, guess how many were dating? Forty-one. So, guys, any guy want a date tonight?”
What do you think of Henning’s dating advice for high school students? Was the program an acceptable or offensive way for Payson High School in Arizona to handle a student dating assembly?
[Featured Image by bokan/Shutterstock]