PC Culture

Lawmaker: Sign Named After General Hooker Is Offensive to Women Because His Name Was ‘Hooker’

The General Hooker Entrance at the Massachusetts State House. (CBS Boston via YouTube)
What’s harming women is not the sign but the over-reaction to it.

A Massachusetts state lawmaker wants to remove a sign at a door entrance that’s named after Union Army General Joseph Hooker — because the word “hooker” is offensive to women.

That’s right. General Hooker may have fought against the Confederacy, and not for it, but apparently, honoring him is still too offensive.

The sign in question is outside a Massachusetts statehouse and reads “General Hooker Entrance,” because it is near a statue of General Hooker. That seems perfectly reasonable to me, but state representative Michelle DuBois (D., Plymouth) said it’s actually an assault on “women’s dignity.”

Last week, DuBois tweeted:

“Female staffers don’t use that entrance because the sign is offensive to them,” DuBois told local news source WBZ-TV.

Oh, brother. Honestly, I’d argue that what’s really harming women is not this sign but DuBois’s reaction to it. For one thing, using the #MeToo hashtag to share such a stupid complaint diminishes the gravity of the sexual-assault and -harassment offenses that it’s meant to describe. Sexual assault and harassment are serious, pervasive problems, and DuBois’s lumping a sign named after a general in with those issues only motivates people to view #MeToo as a total joke.

What’s more, as Reason’s Elizabeth Nolan Brown points out, this is “the ultimate in futile, fainting-couch feminism”:

If you’re a woman, and you want to be taken seriously as an equal, autonomous individual, then you’re really not doing yourself any favors by saying you’re too weak to be able to handle walking under a door sign named after General Hooker.

“Attitudes like hers — which treat women as excessively fragile beings, and which posit that female ‘dignity’ is diminished by even so slight an association with sex work as walking under a door that says ‘hooker’ — just props up old-fashioned and patriarchal ideas about sex and gender.”

It’s true: If you’re a woman, and you want to be taken seriously as an equal, autonomous individual, then you’re really not doing yourself any favors by saying you’re too weak to be able to handle walking under a door sign named after General Hooker. DuBois did claim that the sign leads to teasing, which may be annoying, but shouldn’t really be that big of a deal beyond that. It certainly shouldn’t have to be removed over it. This is especially true given that any guy who would actually make these kinds of jokes would probably be pretty annoying to be around regardless of what the sign said, based on the kind of intolerably obnoxious personality he’d have to have to make them. The bottom line is, women do face a lot of difficulties in the workplace, but there are plenty of things that we are capable of handling on our own — and people like DuBois need to stop working so hard to convince people otherwise.

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