So goes the scene I imagine in my head after reading the R U Dateable website. It’s not a pretty picture.
What if Micah’s biggest goal in life is to be “dateable”- to be desired and wanted by men? What if my competitive, ambitious, super self-conscious middle child decides the most important thing she can be is wanted by some man? How much more pathetic an aspiration could we find for existence?
A preface and a few disclaimers
In what follows- my grappling with “dateability”- the narrative will not attempt the impossible task of remaining gender-neutral. Because Mr. Lookaboo’s worldview is so incredibly gendered, I will try to explain why it fails to make the world a more beguiling and beautiful place for our children rather than present compelling arguments against a gendered interpretation of human relations (arguments to which I fullysubscribe). Note that gendered accounts are precisely what keeps the “war of the sexes” running. If we approach other humans as individuals, we are less likely to rely on gendered cliches to explain and understand the behavior of what turns out to be just another human being.
Given the heteronormativity of every single word uttered by Mr. Lookaboo, I won’t try to explain why such a narrow understanding of human sexuality is poisonous to individual flourishing (one reason why I reject heteronormative accounts). It’s too big and breathtaking to bring in; I can’t do it justice and still explain what bothers me so deeply about this emerging dateability paradigm.
Instead, I’m going to stick to the narrow, nasty picture painted by Mr. Lookaboo- a picture in which girls should “accept” being girls while guys should remember that they are on top, the world is theirs to “lead”, destroy and pillage without regard to so-called feminine virtues like empathy, compassion, and honor for human life.
“Dude, that girl is sooooo dateable….” and other forms of empowerment
For the record, friends, it is not a compliment to say someone is “dateable”. Not for those of us who prefer to be respected as individuals rather than prototypes. In fact, I’ll go so far as to suggest that Justin Lookadoo might have done us all a favor by revealing “dateability” and the teenage dating world for the misogynist entry-level meat market that it is.
That said, I feel that Lookadoo’s brand of uplift is humiliating for men, women, girls, boys, and human beings in general. The only thing that gets lifted is an oversexualized valuation of females that encourages duplicity, manipulation, and lack of personal integrity. Granted, guys get to pat themselves on the back for maintaining the double standard that requires girls to pay them homage for acting like douches.
Obviously, given these sorts of assumptions, Mr. Lookaboo is relieved to have been born a “guy”. I can’t imagine hearing those words and thinking somehow that being born a girl is anything other than a twisted form of slavery or punishment. Unlike yours truly, Compassion International, a well-known Christian nonprofit, celebrates Mr. Lookadoo’s approach to empowerment on their website:
I’m not sure that Jason/Justin assisted juvenile offenders in understanding why rape or sexual assault are unacceptable violations of human dignity. Mr. Lookadoo’s advice to young girls overemphasizes their sexual presentation to men and then holds them responsible for the effect. For example:
Is it so hard to go from this to the presumption that a girl who is raped was “asking for it”? How does Compassion International interpret this statement in light of its primary mission involving compassion for other human beings? Mr. Lookaboo is radically compassionate in that he reserves his compassion for girls in burkas. Wouldn’t it be better if he just reminded guys that girls do not exist for the purpose of their sexual arousal or pleasure? Just because you see a girl that looks attractive does not mean you have a “right” to look at her or fantasize about her. Nothing that a girl puts on her body gives you any rights over her body. The only rights you have with respect to another human being are those explicity communicated by word of mouth.
Oddly, this sort of market-driven approach to the female body poises Mr. Lookadoo to be an excellent would-be critic of consumer culture, advertising, and modern capitalism- except, of course, that this is not the direction in which he plans to take us. Not at all. That’s because Mr. Lookadoo wants us to buy his dating books and his “hip” persona as an alternative to so-called popular mainstream culture.
How would you feel if you happen to have a vulva and have to listen to this without being able to stand up and respond? Unfortunately, I feel more empowered by listening to a Chris Rock stand-up routine than I do by listening to Mr. Lookadoo. At least Chris Rock doesn’t wear the Christian brand on his shoulder.
Come to think of it, Lookadoo leaves the same taste in my mouth as watching Bill Maher- a gross disgusted taste which makes me more conscious of my “fleshly goods” than my spirit, independence, or individuality. The female body is America’s most inflated, liposuctioned, labioplasted commodity, with Lookadoo, Bill Maher, and Hugh Hefner acting as a few of its greatest salesmen.
Guys should be honest, but girls should master the fine arts of salesmanship and deception
Mr. Lookadoo’s divergent advice for guys and gals expresses the differing power relations accorded to sex and gender in the present day. Guys, as the power-holding group, can afford to be themselves and to express their feelings (or lack thereof). Meanwhile, girls, as the powerless, must play to those in power and try to trick or manipulate them into tossing a few token crumbs of respect in their direction. It’s a nasty charade- one we can only hope to finally bury.
Boys tell it like it is. But girls need to tell it like the boys want to hear it. If reading Lookaboo’s rules for dateability makes a girl feel manipulative and twisted, that’s because this is precisely what Lookaboo reccommends.
It’s an old salesman’s trick- connect with someone by meeting their gaze and holding it. It’s the best way to disarm a person, to cuddle up close to their mind without physically touching their body. And, yes, looking into someone’s eyes is exciting, suggestive, and erotic- it’s the sexiest way to kiss and make love; it’s the source of swoons for Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. But for Mr. Lookaboo, who doesn’t really believe in uncontrived, romantic love, looking ’em in the eye is key to a succesful sales pitch.
The sales pitch matters because Lookaboo believes a woman’s job is to manipulate a man into wanting to marry her. The dateable girl knows how to sell herself to a man. The more a girl can make a guy feel like the stud, the more likely he will bloom into the true stud that God intended him to be. So when a guy doesn’t want to change the diapers, you can bet there is a woman to blame- a woman, maybe his wife, that doesn’t “let him lead”.
But you can’t blame an aspiring dater for being confused… not when the next suggestions from Mr. Lookaboo involve hiding your interest, feelings, enthusiasms, passions, and thoughts from the very person you’re supposedly pretending to “need”. The suggestions for fakery and dishonest self-presentation undergird every aspect of Mr. Lookaboo’s rules for girls. Like the old Madonna-whore dichotomy, a girl is asked to play two different drums at the same time while admitting to not having played either.
Pretend to be happy. Smile all the time. When you don’t feel it, fake it.
Pretend to be shy and “mysterious”- as if being yourself, a unique and fantastic human being, isn’t mysterious enough. Nod when a dude speaks, and don’t get in the way of his fantasies about you by allowing him to get to know the person over the prototype.
Pretend that you are the bee’s knees- because you’re not the bee’s knees. You’re actually just another girl trying desperately to “win” a guy’s attention. You don’t have to love yourself- that’s not what you need to be working through during those teenage years. No, save the self-love for later. Right now, just focus on pretending to love yourself so you can get a guy to love you.
The best girl is one who fakes it
But then, just so you don’t too comfortable, remember…
(Note: All spelling mistakes belong to Mr. Lookaboo- I’m just doing as a dateable girl should do, namely copying and pasting the formidable wisdom of a male leader.) So dateable girls don’t just sit and listen to a motivational speaker disparage them on the basis of their sexual organs. Instead, a dateable girl
So we find ourselves back in the Garden of Eden. Back to the paradise where a man blamed a woman’s independence for his own course of action. Eve didn’t let Adam lead. See what happens when a man follows a woman? Personally, I’m more inclined towards Jacques Ellul’s reading of the Eden story, one in which God decides to let women bear children because they’re the ones who can be trusted to think of a future bigger than themselves (rather than looking for someone else, to blame for the choices they’ve made).
This “dateability” bull-poop prepares a woman to blame herself for her partner’s future infidelity, should she be one of the odd 50% of marriages in which such an event were to occur. Up next from Mr. Lookadoo… the book R U Sexworthy, a how-to guide on ways to keep a wild, adventuresome, undomesticated man from cheating once he discovers that marriage is an institution intended to pay lip service to the dignity of two individuals (as opposed to their “adventuresome” inclinations). Okay, so I made up that last bit about the book.
But here is what I’m not fudging. I’m not fudging the fact that Mr. Lookaboo and his crew should never be allowed to present their ideas in a school as a speech or lecture. The only context in which Mr. Lookaboo should speaking to teenagers is in a debate, where opposing paradigms are given equal time and students have a chance to come to their own conclusions.
7 FAST REASONS WHY UNDATEABLE PEOPLE ROCK
- Undateables will not allow another person to disparage them on the basis of their sexual organs without pointing out to said person that such insults are unacceptable. And when men like Mr. Conservative call their response an “attack”, undateables point out that their response would me more accurately called a “counter-attack”.
- Undateables focus their energies on learning how to love themselves rather than constructing a false self they hope will be loved by others if they can manage to get the sales pitch just right.
- Undateables revel in flexible constructions of gender that allow them to thrive and flourish without resorting to fakery.
- Undateables don’t have to worry about remember “rules” that have no bearing on personal ethics or integrity.
- Undateables prefer communication to duplicituous manipulation.
- Undateables don’t blame victims for the crimes perpetuated against them.
- Undateables are capable of compassion and empathy for persons who don’t fit in the dating box or the conventional categories.
Now read what others have to say about Mr. Lookadoo’s message.
The Christian Science Monitor‘s Modern Parenthood blog responds
Jamie Clark-Soles responds
Make Me a Sammich responds
Matthew L. Skinner looks at the Biblical side of Lockado’s and Lockadon’ts
Not Black and White Thoughts responds
Taylor B. Allen responds and shares her petition
Happy Nice Time People’s satire of Lookadoo
Christopher Zara on Lookadoo’s connections to gay conversion therapy