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    A lawmaker said the State House’s General Hooker sign is ‘tone deaf.’ Social media responded

    State Representative Michelle DuBois said the double entendre of the General Hooker Entrance to the State House is “tone deaf” and “patriarchal.”
    Barry Chin/Globe Staff
    State Representative Michelle DuBois said the double entendre of the General Hooker Entrance to the State House is “tone deaf” and “patriarchal.”

    A state elected official is facing blowback on social media after she called for a State House sign dedicated to Civil War General Joseph Hooker to be taken down or modified because she believes his last name is a “double entendre.”

    On Wednesday, as students from around the state marched on Beacon Hill as part of the national “Walk Out” protests to call attention to gun violence, state Representative Michelle DuBois posted a photograph of the “General Hooker Entrance” sign on the building to social media and called it “tone deaf” and “patriarchal.”

    “Are you a ‘General Hooker’? Of course not!” DuBois, who represents Brockton, West Bridgewater, and East Bridgewater, wrote on Facebook.

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    DuBois tied the name “Hooker,” a term that’s commonly used to describe a female sex worker, to the “Me Too” movement, and said the golden-lettered sign should be removed.

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    “#Metoo — It’s not all about rape and sexual harassment,” she said. “It’s also about disregard for the majority of women’s feelings and dignity for the raising up and false-protection of a statue of a long dead general.”

    DuBois posted a similar — shorter — statement about her thoughts on the sign to Twitter on Wednesday.

    The entrance to the State House is named after Joseph Hooker, a major general and commander who was born in Hadley and was part of the Peninsula Campaign and the Battle of Antietam during the Civil War, according to a biography on History.com.

    Historians recall Hooker “as the Union general who led 138,000 troops to bloody defeat” by Confederate General Robert E. Lee during the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863, according to Globe archives.

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    Criticism about DuBois’s stance on the issue was swift on social media, with many arguing that her attempt to politicize the sign was misguided.

    “I would consider taking this [tweet] down and doing some homework,” one person wrote. “If you don’t do that I would consider resigning. This is an embarrassment and you should be ashamed for your constituents.”

    A second person wrote, “Seriously, resign. You’re unfit for office.”

    Still, DuBois didn’t back down from her original sentiment, claiming she has seen “teen boys tease teen girls about being ‘general hookers’ ” when they visit the State House and use the entrance.

    “Sign is out of context & either Gen’s ... first name should be added or change the entrance name,” she said on Twitter. “This change is not a priority for me, but I do think it should and will happen.”

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    On Facebook, DuBois urged people to “stop using this entrance unless they have to.”

    Besides the sign, there is also a 15-foot-tall statue of Hooker atop a horse outside of the State House. DuBois said “keep” the statue.

    In a follow-up telephone interview with the Globe on Thursday, DuBois said there’s a “cloud of sexual harassment over the State House right now,” and the sign causes some staff members in the building discomfort. She also said there are “good old boy, school yard jokes about it.”

    “A way to solve that problem is by adding the General’s first name to the sign,” she said. “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.”

    Visitors have long snickered at the name on the Beacon Street entrance. A Facebook page for “General Hooker Entrance” shows pictures of people standing below the sign, with some commenting “Gets me every time” and “Specific hookers use other entrance.”

    Jim Rader, an etymologist for Merriam-Webster, the Springfield-based dictionary company, said the notion that the word “hooker,” in reference to prostitution, is connected to the Union general is “totally specious.”

    Rader said in a statement that the earliest known use of the word is in a letter written by a University of North Carolina student to a classmate in 1845.

    “Most likely, the hooking in question is simply a prostitute’s enticement of a customer,” Rader said, “though there seems to be no certain evidence for early use of the verb hook in exactly this sense.”

    Steve Annear can be reached at steve.annear@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @steveannear.