When women enter the Massachusetts Legislature building, State Representative Michelle DuBois says there’s one door they try to avoid: the “General Hooker Entrance.”
“Female staffers don’t use that entrance because the sign is offensive to them,” DuBois told WBZ-TV.
Now DuBois says it’s time for the entrance, actually named after the prominent Civil War general Joseph Hooker, should be taken down or renamed.
“#Metoo it’s not all about rape & harassment but also women’s dignity. A “funny” double entendres misrepresented as respect for a long dead general?” she tweeted, before offering two suggestions - keep the nearby statue of General Hooker intact, and remove the sign.
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She added that she’d seen boys tease teen girls about being “general hookers” and clarified that she wanted the sign to either come down or include the general’s full name.
The entrance does have something of a reputation. A Facebook page for the location includes several pictures of people cheekily posing under the sign.
“This change is not a priority for me but it should and will happen,” DuBois wrote.
The tweet was met with a resounding wave of online criticism.
Reason Magazine said the demand reinforced outdated ideas of women as “excessively fragile beings.” Twitter users pounced.
Lawmakers, including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, largely rejected the idea, according to the Boston Herald.
“Gov. (Charlie) Baker believes that General Hooker deserves to be honored at the State House as he was a highly distinguished Union general who courageously fought to end slavery,” a spokesman for Baker told the paper.
He did, however, tell CBS Boston that “ the building itself obviously carries with it a connotation that, if the legislature and others think is an appropriate thing to change, that’s certainly something we’d be willing to talk about.”
Hooker was a major Union general from Massachusetts in the Civil War. He could claim a string of battlefield victories but is also known for a major defeat at Chancellorsville by the hands of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
A legend has it that the slang term for prostitute, hooker, is indeed derived from his name due to a supposed band of prostitutes that followed his army. Others have disputed that, however, noting that the term was used in American print long before the war.
DuBois hasn’t backed down, pointing to a “cloud of sexual harassment” at the capital making the issue especially timely. But she did say she wanted to focus more on renaming than removing.
“A way to solve that problem is by adding the General’s first name to the sign,” she told the Boston Globe. “We have tourists coming from all over the country and they take selfies in front of it because they think it’s funny. I just think we can do better, and one way to do better is add ‘Joseph’ to the sign.”