School Trades ‘Act Like A Lady’ Quote For Empowering Malala Message

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For five years, the Gregory-Lincoln Education Center had the words “The more you act like a lady, the more he’ll act like a gentleman,” painted on its walls.

teacher pointing as students sit in classroom

After receiving widespread backlash for a quote deemed “misogynistic” on social media, a Texas school replaced the sexist language with an empowering message from social icon Malala Yousafzai.

For five years, the Gregory-Lincoln Education Center had the words “The more you act like a lady, the more he’ll act like a gentleman,” painted on its walls. Yet the quote sparked immediate criticism after Twitter user Lisa Beckman posted an image of the quote, condemning its victim-blaming nature.

“It's perpetuating horrible gender stereotypes, shaming women, and relinquishing boys of all responsibility. It's sexist, mysogonistic [sic], and discriminatory!” Beckman wrote on Twitter.  

Adding fuel to the fire, the quote is attributed to Sydney Biddle Barrows, an escort agency owner convicted of promoting prostitution. Known as the “Mayflower Madam,” she reportedly said the controversial words to her escorts.

Many netizens promptly agreed with Beckman’s sentiment, causing the Houston school to remove the quote and replace it with a message from Yousafzai, the Nobel Prize Laureate and activist encouraging students to “change the world.”

“Do not wait for someone else to come and speak for you. It’s you who can change the world,” the wall now reads.

The Houston Independent School District unveiled the new quote on Twitter and released a statement noting the district “acted swiftly to remove a quote at one of our schools that does not support our values. The input of our community is invaluable, and we appreciate that this was brought to our attention.”

The initial quote reeked of rape culture and implicitly told young women that boys’ behavior is in direct response to their actions. But in this “Me Too” era, that kind of victim-shaming approach will, thankfully, no longer be tolerated.

School should be a place where children are molded into decent individuals with an upstanding moral conscience, and a quote suggesting "boys will be boys" is far from appropriate. 

Banner/thumbnail photo credit: Reuters/Afolabi Sotunde

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