An Arizona-based school district is in hot water after requiring female students to attend a speaking presentation that seemed sexist to some of those girls and their parents.
The speaker, Christian author and speaker Brad Henning, talked to students at Payson High School in Payson, Arizona about relationships — but for many, his message fell flat.
Henning spoke to all students at an assembly on Tuesday, September 27, then held separate assemblies for boys and girls the following day. The school required girls to attend the assembly during the school day, but the assembly for boys wasn't mandatory and took place after school.
It doesn't end there: The Payson Roundup reported that Henning told 350 girls at the mandatory assembly they should "make sure they do not turn on a guy by dressing or acting in a way that unleashes a guy's God-given sexual urges," and that boys can't control their "sexual appetites."
"The girl stands in the mirror and decides, 'OK, this is war' and she puts on spaghetti straps and mini skirts," Henning said, according to The Payson Roundup. "What do you want the guys to look at — your eyes?"
Meanwhile, the 25 boys who attended the voluntary presentation received information on how to secure a date with a girl. A lesson on consent was noticeably absent from the presentation.
"Out of 350 girls in this auditorium, guess how many were dating?" Henning reportedly asked the boys' group. "Forty-one. So, guys, any guy want a date tonight?"
After Henning’s presentation, mixed response from parents and students flooded social media, according to The Phoenix New Times. Some defended Henning's presentation, while others shamed him and the school for reinforcing sexist, outdated ideas about relationships.
Henning's presentation sparked controversy this time, but it wasn't his first time presenting to the school. A statement from the Payson Unified School District said the district brought Henning after the "overwhelmingly positive response" to a previous assembly.
Henning's website (last updated in 2011) claims he's worked with middle school- through college-aged students over the last 30 years, and has worked full-time in delivering these relationship presentations for 22 years. In the case you haven't had the great pleasure of experiencing one of Henning's talks in person over the last two decades, here are some of the highlights you've missed, taken directly from his website:
GIRLS: Don't care about your appearance, take things too seriously, or get really emotional — guys hate that!
"The biggest turn-off to a guy is a girl whose primary focus is herself: the girl who is always on a diet counting EVERY calorie, the girl who has to have every hair in place, the girl has to be the center of attention... When a girl has her eyes on herself, she can’t 'see' to admire or appreciate anyone else. She has no time for that."
BOYS: Girls love it when you try and kidnap them! Honestly, it makes for a Very Fun Date — just try it!
Henning's website is full of these little nuggets of dating wisdom for boys, such as "kidnapping" your date and taking her to breakfast, or to watch the sunrise.
I know I'm always down for a rousing date of "make me fear for my life!"
GIRLS: If boys aren't asking you out, it might be because there's something wrong with you!
Ladies, take it from Henning. You could be dateless because you're doing the following:
- It may be that you have a bad reputation
- It may be that you have an attitude and no guy wants to deal with it
- It may be that you are always with other girls and he would never feel comfortable coming up and asking you out
- It may be because you seem boy crazy
- It may be because you are dressing too sleazy and he doesn’t want to be known as the guy who is dating “HER!”
- He may be scared of you because you are smarter than he is and you flaunt it
- You may be dressing like a guy and not as a girl
- You may have bad breath or…
- It could be a lot of things.
BOYS: Does your girl have a birthday or special anniversary coming up? Give her a fun fireman's calendar! Except with pictures of you instead,
Yes, a fireman's calendar. Those fun calendars where firefighters pose shirtless. Except, you know, with photos of you instead. Never mind the fact that girls shouldn't be leading boys on with their bare shoulders — it's totally different! Go ahead and bare it all for this fun, flirty gift.
GIRLS: Men talk about their penises because they're basically another person, but if that makes you mad don't get upset at them! Just walk away!
"But why do guys talk about their penis? Because it’s like talking about somebody else. It seems like it has a life of its own. Did you know a guy can get an erection three to five times every night while he’s asleep? That’s right," Henning wrote on his very much real website.
Don't like it, ladies? Well you should really be the one to get men to stop doing that, but don't get in their faces about it, OK?
"You need to help him understand that it’s not appropriate to talk about it in public. If he starts to talk like that, let him know politely that you don’t appreciate him talking about things like that and that it makes you uncomfortable. If he keeps on doing it, just pick up your books and stuff and walk away. Don’t get in a huff…just walk away."
BOYS: Ask a girl out in extremely fun ways with the following phrases or strategies:
- “Will you marry me this Friday?”
- “Want to watch the sun go down with me…at the ocean? I’ve got hot chocolate!?”
- Give her a block of ice and a hammer and chisel to "find message inside"
- Tape recorder under desk (Revelist note: maybe you have the message play? We're not quite sure here.)
- Treasure hunt with tickets to (insert event) waiting for her at end.
- Make a video with you asking her to prom
- Steal her prized possession and leave a ransom note ("Meet me at bridge with ice cream…")
- Leave a note at her locker telling her what to wear, when to meet, and at what time!
GIRLS: Don't have sex before marriage just for the sake of "equal rights!"
Henning thinks girls shouldn't have casual sex because then men won't want to marry them. Nevermind the fact that a double standard exists between men and women having sex — Henning 's solution is just for girls to not have sex for "equal rights," or whatever that is supposed to mean.
"Think about the fairy tales. There’s the young prince, handsome, rugged, self sufficient, the man who can stand up to the challenge. He’s the hero, the man on the white horse, and he’s looking for his fair maiden. He’s the wild one who can only be tamed by the one he seeks to rescue... But then, of all the dastardly things, he finds out she has been with just about every guy in the realm... He’s been dreaming about “A FAIR MAIDEN” not the town slut. So he leaves town to continue his search," Henning wrote.
BOYS: If you REALLY want to impress a girl, have a cop pull her over!
"If you have a policeman friend, this is a great way to surprise your girlfriend on Valentine's day. Have the officer follow her to school, pull her over and walk up to her car with his ticket book in hand. 'I'm sorry miss but you went through cupid's red light and I'm going to have to give you a Valentine.' Then have him pull out a big red valentine with your name on it. She will always wonder how you pulled it off." - actual words written by Brad Henning
GIRLS: Don't ask a guy out, but if a boy keeps asking you out and you don't want to date him, just let him down easy.
Yes, Henning would prefer if girls just waited for boys to ask them out: "Guys need to have the fortitude (guts) to ask a girl out on the first date. They need to learn to be self starters, a trait he will need the rest of his life." Want a date with a boy? Just act interested in him and wait on it.
And if a boy keeps asking a girl out and she's not interested, be nice! As Henning suggests, just go watch the beloved 2005 Will Smith film "Hitch," for a strong example of how to let a boy know you're not about it:
"'Look Chip, (that’s the guy’s name) I know it took a lot of courage to come over here and start up a conversation, so don’t take this personally, but I’m really not interested. But really, thank you.' Perfect! She didn’t put him down, she was polite and encouraging, but to the point."
Honestly though, bless the kids who've seriously taken Henning's advice to heart.