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Women wearing “makeup that hints at orgasm” can’t complain that men leer, Intellectual Dark Webber Heather Heying argues

Toxic female prepares for battle

By David Futrelle

So who’s more toxic: A dude who spends every lunch hour staring at women passing on the street like a hungry lion eyeing a wounded gazelle, or any of these women who take a moment to tell him to “stop staring at me, you creep!”

If we follow the logic set out by Intellectual Dark Webber Heather E. Heying in her recent piece on “toxic femininity” in Quillette, it would be the women. At least if they’re wearing makeup — because makeup “invites” male attention and it’s wrong for women to chastise men who give women the lustful gazes that they’re (supposedly) signaling they crave.

Heying, a former evolutionary biology professor at Evergreen State College, declares that it’s an “ancient truth” that

[s]traight men will look at beautiful women, especially if those women are a) young and hot and b) actively displaying. Display invites attention.

Apparently, any time a young hottie puts on flattering clothes and a bit of makeup, she’s basically advertising that she’s open for business, sex-wise, much like a female mandrill presenting her swollen red ass to the nearest monkey Chad.

“Hotness-amplifying femininity puts on a full display, advertising fertility and urgent sexuality,” Heying proclaims, writing about human females in much the same way, I imagine, that she’s written about the sex lives of the poisonous frogs she’s studied in the wild.

It invites male attention by, for instance, revealing flesh, or by painting on signals of sexual receptivity. This, I would argue, is inviting trouble.

So you’re saying these women are asking for it?

No, I did not just say that she was asking for it. I did, however, just say that she was displaying herself, and of course she was going to get looked at.

I’m not quite sure how that’s different from saying “she’s asking for it,” but never mind.

The amplification of hotness is not, in and of itself, toxic, although personally, I don’t respect it, and never have. Hotness fades, wisdom grows— wise young women will invest accordingly.

So dressing like a dirty slut isn’t toxic, it just makes you a dirty slut, which Heying definitely isn’t, unlike all you dirty sluts being all dirty and slutty out there with your dirty slut outfits.

Femininity becomes toxic when it cries foul, chastising men for responding to a provocative display.

Ah, of course, femininity becomes toxic as soon as women point out the bad behavior of men.

Heying dials back her rhetoric for a moment to assure her readers that, yes, she does believe that there are some male behaviors that it’s legitimate to complain about.

Every woman has the right not to be touched if she does not wish to be; and coercive quid pro quo, in which sexual favors are demanded for the possibility of career advancement, is unacceptable.

Alas, she follows up this bit of uncharacteristic reasonableness with a big ol’ “but.”

But when women doll themselves up in clothes that highlight sexually-selected anatomy, and put on make-up that hints at impending orgasm, it is toxic—yes, toxic—to demand that men do not look, do not approach, do not query.

Wait, what? “Make-up that hints at impending orgasm?”

As best as I can figure it, she thinks that whenever women use any makeup that reddens their cheeks or lips they are doing so because this redness is a simulation of the “sex flush” that many women experience during, well, sex, and that typically starts to fade after an orgasm.

Of course, cheeks also turn red due to embarrassment, sunburn, vigorous jogging, cold weather, falling into a vat of tomato soup. So maybe all that a woman with blusher on her cheeks is trying to signal is that due to her balance issues it’s probably not a good idea to take her on a tour of a soup factory, at least not without securing her with a sturdy rope first.

Also, “sex flushes” don’t only affect the face; they also tend to redden necks and chests, among other places. So for women to really convey just how totally into sex they hypothetically are, shouldn’t they cover every visible inch of skin with red paint, like this sexy lady here?

The wings are a nice touch too

But I digress. Heying continues her tirade against mean hotties being mean to men.

Young women have vast sexual power. Everyone who is being honest with themselves knows this: Women in their sexual prime who are anywhere near the beauty-norms for their culture have a kind of power that nobody else has.

Weird that very few of these women are able to use this supposedly vast power to command much higher salaries than, for example, their much older and much less sexually appealing male bosses.

They are also all but certain to lack the wisdom to manage it. Toxic femininity is an abuse of that power, in which hotness is maximized, and victim status is then claimed when straight men don’t treat them as peers.

Why shouldn’t men treat women as peers? What does “hotness” have to do with it?

Creating hunger in men by actively inviting the male gaze, then demanding that men have no such hunger—that is toxic femininity.

No one is demanding that straight men cease being attracted to — hungering for — women; they’re simply asking that men treat the women they’re attracted to with simple courtesy and not openly drool over them like creepy creeps.

Subjugating men, emasculating them when they display strength—physical, intellectual, or other—that is toxic femininity.

“Subjugating” men for “displaying strength?” Where is this coming from? What the fuck are you even talking about?

Insisting that men, simply by virtue of being men, are toxic, and then acting surprised as relationships between men and women become more strained—that is toxic femininity.

No one is claiming that all men are toxic “simply by virtue of being men.” Yes, it’s true that all men in our culture are taught some toxic attitudes and encouraged to display some toxic behaviors. But that doesn’t make all men predators or creeps.

Many men consciously or unconsciously reject the toxic aspects of masculinity — while holding on to other aspects of masculinity that they and many others (including most feminists) find appealing. Terry Crews is about as masculine a man as you can get — and he’s speaking out against toxic masculinity.  I don’t know any feminist, male or female, who has a problem with him; I’ve seen Men’s Rights Activists call him a “cuck.”

If every young woman who complains about creeps staring at them is guilty of “toxic femininity,” at least in Heying’s mind, are there men guilty of toxic masculinity as well?

True, she does explicitly acknowledge that toxic masculinity is a thing. After all, there are men out there who sexually assault women. But she’s willing to absolve most men of any degree of blame.

“Yes, toxic masculinity exists,” she writes, before moving on to the inevitable “but.”

But the use of the term has been weaponized. It is being hurled without care at every man. When it emerged, its use seemed merely imprecise—in most groups of people, there’s some guy waiting for an opportunity to fondle a woman’s ass without her consent, put his hand where he shouldn’t, right? That’s who was being outed as toxic. Those men—and far, far worse—do exist. Obviously. But wait—does every human assemblage contain such men? It does not.

Well, pretty much any human assemblage with more than a handful of men in it is likely to contain at least one toxic asshole who likes to grope women without consent. Hell, our president is one of these men, if his own boasts (not to mention the accusations of numerous women) are anything to go by. Kind of hard to argue that “toxic masculinity” is super duper rare when the top elected official on our country is about as toxic as a man can get.

This term, toxic masculinity, is being wielded indiscriminately, and with force. We are not talking imprecision now, we are talking thoroughgoing inaccuracy.

Indeed, she suggests, if you talk about “toxic masculinity” too much, many people will leap to the conclusion that “all men are toxic.”  Never mind that this isn’t actually happening in the real world.

While Heying is convinced that every young woman who puts a little rouge on her cheeks is “inviting trouble,” she cuts men a lot more slack. Indeed, at the start of her piece she literally gives human males credit for not murdering babies.

No, really. She starts the piece by noting that male lions, as is well-known,  will “kill the kittens in a pride over which they have gained control.” This, she acknowledges, is pretty “toxic” behavior. But

[g]iven the opportunity, the vast majority of modern human males would do no such thing. … the vast majority of men would not and could not kill babies, nor rape their grieving mothers.

Good to know.

So, to summarize: in order to be convicted of toxic femininity in the court of Judge Heying, all a woman needs to do is to put on a spot of makeup and then complain if men leer at her.

In order to be convicted of toxic masculinity, by contrast, a man has to do one or more of the following:

  1. Grind on or grope a woman without her consent
  2. Rape a woman
  3. Demand sexual favors for career advancement
  4. Kill some babies

With such divergent standards, it’s no wonder that she thinks “toxic femininity” is much more common than “toxic masculinity.”

It’s also no wonder she’s considered part of the “Intellectual Dark Web,” because arguments like hers deserve to be sent back into the darkness from whence they came.

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Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
3 years ago

@StaceySmartyPantsTwiceRemoved Oooh, that sounds wonderful! Let us know how it goes!

@Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy I agree! I found that article on David’s twitter feed and saved it. 🙂

@Katamount Argh and such. I’m too far away to take part in any Ontario protests but, man, enforced ignorance can go jump off a cliff. 😛 😛 😛

kupo
kupo
3 years ago

@TheKND
The hospice folks were so sweet to my grandmother, putting on makeup and shaving her lip. Even when the dementia got bad and she didn’t know the difference anymore, it was about giving her dignity because they knew she wouldn’t want to be seen like that.

TheKND
TheKND
3 years ago

@kupo
It’s the least those people deserve. I know that all my coworkers try hard and I’m so happy to hear that the ones at your grandmother’s hospice did so too.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
3 years ago

it is toxic—yes, toxic—to demand that men do not look, do not approach, do not query.

“Toxic”, as in causing actual harm. Unfulfilled fantasies are not harm.

Why is unsated desire only harmful when a man is feeling it? Why isn’t she going after men who drive cars that “hint at impending wealth and power” yet have locks and security alarms? Or men who signal their resources by living in mansions, but then insulate themselves inside gated communities? I mean, surely they can’t expect us to just look and not scale the fence and go swimming in their pool.

Why are people even allowed to eat ice cream in public near hungry people?

Why are women responsible for both their behavior and men’s behavior?

Toxic femininity isn’t wearing makeup. It’s articles like this.

Musicalbookworm
Musicalbookworm
3 years ago

So, where doe a woman who wears make-up designed to combat redness fit into her little theory.

Lynette
Lynette
3 years ago

So, we have another Esther Vilar and Camille Paglia…. MRA/MGTOW/Incel/red pill dudes eat this shit up.

Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
Violet the Vile, Moonbat Screech Junky
3 years ago

@Talonknife

LOL!

Gaebolga
Gaebolga
3 years ago

There are plenty of reasons why society treats the pain of young white men as a public concern. A great many of us learned from an early age that bad things happen when white men have hurt feelings. Children of color learn, often painfully, the importance of making the white people around them feel comfortable. Little girls are taught not to “provoke” their male peers into attacking or harassing them. This can get confusing for white boys, bless their hearts: when everyone else treats your hurt feelings as immovable facts that have to be managed by those around you, some confusion is understandable. That’s how we got to a position where male pain is intolerable, but everyone else’s pain is par for the course. I’m throwing truth-bombs, but you’re crying victim. Fuck your feelings, but make gentle, empathetic love to mine.

This is the best encapsulation of the maggot-riddled core dynamic of American patriarchy — that which both causes and sustains it — that I’ve ever read. It’s why incels think women aren’t capable of love, why alt-right morons think anyone who isn’t white isn’t human: because whatever American society may say it believes about equality, its mores and laws and traditions clearly demonstrate that only white male feelings matter.

Thanks, Mish, for linking to that fantastic article!

Paradoxical Intention - Mobile
Paradoxical Intention - Mobile
3 years ago

Musicalbookworm | July 13, 2018 at 1:51 pm
So, where doe a woman who wears make-up designed to combat redness fit into her little theory.

As someone who does use a green concealer to cover up red patches on my face here and there, I was wondering the same thing!

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
3 years ago

If you want to see real ‘toxic femininity’, just look at parenting and motherhood discussions. My sister had to deal with some shaming because she was unable to produce enough milk for her newborn daughter. Heck, a lot of the modern anti-vax movement was born out of the ‘warrior mommy’ concept.

This has nothing to do with whatever ideas Heying seems to be pulling out of her ass.

@Katamount:
Gah, yeah, and that’s hardly the only crap Ford’s pulling, it’s just the one that’s taking up most of the airtime so other things are getting away without comment.

I didn’t get much in the way of LGBTQ teaching when I went through Sex Ed, though I did get movies of the process of pregnancy… granted, I went through Sex Ed in the late 70s/early 80s (I’m 50) and in B.C. at that. But I was taught that people were people and you just don’t do things to people without permission, and most of the important parts about consent and respect for differences just kind of follow from those axioms.

(I would find out later that some of my classmates in school were gay, including both the valedictorian, and another who later became a fairly serious author and columnist.)

Hambeast
Hambeast
3 years ago

OP:

No one is claiming that all men are toxic “simply by virtue of being men.” Yes, it’s true that all men in our culture are taught some toxic attitudes and encouraged to display some toxic behaviors. But that doesn’t make all men predators or creeps.

She just comes sooooooo close here, it’s almost painful!

Lumipuna said

And if it turns out physically impossible, I guess Stacey could look golden and someone else could look mean.

I can do the mean look; I can contend with the best of them in the “Worst in Show, Resting Bitch Face” division! (as long as we’re handing out imaginary menzer awards; my armpit hair is pretty sparse, but definitely not soft or blonde)

Binjabreel
Binjabreel
3 years ago

“Former evolutionary biology teacher” well thank fucking god for that, because the whole “male lions kill all the cubs” thing doesn’t happen anywhere near as goddamned often as shitpiles on the internet think it does.

LG
LG
3 years ago

The whole idea of a very young woman being in her “prime” is righteously pissing me off extra hard since watching “Nanette.”

Have y’all seen “Nanette”? I bet you’ve already talked about here and I missed it…

Fishy Goat
Fishy Goat
3 years ago
StaceySmartyPantsTwiceRemoved
StaceySmartyPantsTwiceRemoved
3 years ago

Everybody who wrote in their comments offers of support to me oh thank you so very much! Much love to you!???

Hostessing in full latex was a huge success and I loved it! We got me dressed completely in time for me to get out front and greet a really nice lady who is a big-time client of ours. Because I didn’t have to worry about the answering the phone today I got to just kind of circulate in our lobby and lounge area. Oh, KattieKitten (your nym is so cute) and Violet (I love yours too) I understand that it’s kind of nice to be looked at (sorry if others said that too and I didn’t mention you) as long as my wishes are respected and of course I’m honest I wouldn’t like this job if I didn’t think that. But it’s more than a job to me and like I said before it’s really my creativity.

Our really special client is a corporate attorney for a bank and is really important but very down to earth. I was so happy because I feel like I really impressed her. She exclaimed how cute and pretty I was and thought it was just the coolest thing. She texted her friend who is also one of our big clients and her friend actually took off work and came by just to see me! So I tried to be extra-sweet to them, but it’s so easy because of what wonderful women they are and so inspiring. Our client who is the attorney didn’t want to leave me when it was time for her to go get shampooed and so my owner told me to try to run over to her every now and then to say hello and chat. The whole time she kept asking me to pose and around for her every now and then which was fun. Because as Diptych and others said sometimes something just looks cool.

When she was done, she just raved over me again and said to the owner “oh can I just borrow her for a little while? I just can’t get enough of her!” Our client and her friend invited me out for lunch but I didn’t want to eat or drink anything when I still had about hour left of the time I had planned to wear my latex because, well, you know. 🙂

Down the sidewalk from us there is this very cute little bookstore that has a cafe so they took me there. Our client give a tip for me to the manager to put in my envelope at the front desk and the owner said they could take me for a little while and my manager later told me she donated $200 to the fund my owner has for free services that we donate to women of marginalized populations. By the way reading about what TheKND and Kupo said just totally touched my heart because we go out to nursing homes sometimes.

Our client taking me out was very validating and liberating to me and I feel like I resisted oppression that I have experienced before in terms of slut-shaming. There were guys looking at me but there were not very many people in the bookstore and nobody did anything creepy thank goddess because that happens so often! But if they had I would have told them off and our client would have given a creep everything he deserved too. I am fine though if a guy I don’t know just looks but does not leer or do anything creepy and respects my wishes and personal space.
Since I have been reading this blog and the comments on these latest posts I keep thinking of the class discussions and 1-page daily journal entries we had to write in my Intro to Women’s Studies class and the discussion from my Women in British Literature class in college. I was telling our client about that and she asked me what I would say if my professors had asked me to interpret our experience today. I’m really not sure about this but it’s so interesting to try to work through the concepts. You all are all so smart and I hope I don’t sound stupid. I don’t know if this will make sense but I think maybe I was the embodiment of the female body itself? Can there be such a thing as a woman’s meta-body? My client and I were talking about that. It was just so cool that we were having that conversation as women while at the very same time I was still in my role as hostess, I felt like. It excites me to talk about feminist intreptation and be Silver Stacey the sexy and chic hostess at the exact same time. I feel like maybe my client and I by spending time together outside the salon were creating a multiple kinds of female spaces at the same time, even though we were in a patriarchial dominated physical space (because there were men looking at my body) so it was like it was an act of resistance. Slut-shaming is a way of denying me my own body and I fought back by doing exactly what Heather Heyden said I shouldn’t do. I mean, in skin-tight latex head to foot you can see every curve, but yet at the same time I’m still 100% covered. So could I say it’s like asserting a very nuanced but assertive sort of control over my own body in a patriarchial space? Oh I don’t know if that makes sense, I’m sorry. I’m just rambling but it’s just to fun to try to interpret.

I’m hungry!

Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
3 years ago

@ StaceySMTR

I’m so glad you had a fun time. You must have looked spectacular. It sounds like your friend is very skilled in applying the stuff. Coincidentally, I’d just been reminiscing the other day about my attempts at applying liquid latex to a friend. The woman on the box looked really slinky; but by the time I’d finished my friend looked like she’d been Artexed.

StaceySmartyPantsTwiceRemoved
StaceySmartyPantsTwiceRemoved
3 years ago

@Alan Robertshaw

Oh you’re too funny! 🙂 Yes my friend did me the last time I wore it. It took us four thin coats, then the finishing and polishing with the silicon. My face took a lot of time because you have to be super careful and you have to get your hair completely 100% back.

There’s plenty of neat little how-to videos you can find so maybe your friend and you should try it again with her if she wants? ❤ It might be fun to make her all so extra-pretty and slinky and shiny!

And thank you so much for the good wishes!

Full Metal Ox
3 years ago

Until chronic eye infections made it uncomfortable, I often used to wear red eyeliner—I wonder what Heyring would make of that?

tim gueguen
3 years ago

It’s surprising Camille Paglia hasn’t made a big comeback of late. She could rightly claim to have pioneered blathering sexist claptrap, while claiming to be promoting “real feminism,” when Jordan Peterson was just some unknown teaching bored undergrads.

Marshmallow Stacy Maximal (formerly bluecat)
Marshmallow Stacy Maximal (formerly bluecat)
3 years ago

I lost all my hair when I had chemo. Everything grew back, except for my eyebrows.

I’m mainly a storyteller and teacher, and have always found eyebrows useful for conveying meaning to an audience.

So, for the first time in my 58 years of life, I now use cosmetics almost every day, to paint eyebrows in before I got to work. The only exceptions are days when I’m going to the allotment or sitting home writing.

What is it my cosmetic use “hints at”, I wonder?

Not orgasm, unless my orgasm habitually makes me look quizzical.

Podkayne Lives
Podkayne Lives
3 years ago

Camille Paglia has actually been in the news a bit lately.

The evo-psych people are somewhat obsessed with the message of makeup, and they seem to know very little about it. My favorite is the perennial claim that ancient Egyptian or Roman sex workers, or something, wore red lipstick to brag on their skills at fellatio. Citation for this never given, argument for the idea that this has any relevance in a very different culture thousands of years later never unpacked.

They also seem unaware that men have worn makeup in a whole lot of cultures throughout the ages. (Fabulous scene in a Korean costume drama I watched a while back where all the men of this elite military unit prepare for battle by painting their eyes and lips so they’ll look good if they die.)

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

@Surplus,

You’re right – Freud would be dancing with excitement at that passage; he’d probably spend a happy few months analysing it!
A few people on this thread have mentioned Paglia, and JP’s mystical waffling definitely reminds me of her. Back in the 90s, I read Paglia waxing lyrical about how men can pee in an arc, and can direct their urine, and how this somehow – mystically – links to their artistic, creative capacity, in contrast to women who are mired in chthonic nature and can only create life.
I am still recovering; the scars will last a lifetime :\

Mish of the Catlady Ascendancy

@Gaebolga

…bad things happen when white men have hurt feelings

Yeah, that sentence gave me an actual, physical chill when I read it. All too real.

And sadly, it’s not just American society that Penny is describing so eloquently, but whole swathes of contemporary culture (very much so here in Oz, for example).

@Marshmallow Stacy Maximal (formerly bluecat)

unless my orgasm habitually makes me look quizzical

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Jenora Feuer | July 13, 2018 at 3:08 pm
If you want to see real ‘toxic femininity’, just look at parenting and motherhood discussions. My sister had to deal with some shaming because she was unable to produce enough milk for her newborn daughter. Heck, a lot of the modern anti-vax movement was born out of the ‘warrior mommy’ concept.

Yeah, there’s really some kind of conversation that needs to be had about the idea of “mother knows best” in some circles.

There’s also the feminine people who get attacked for *gasp* not wanting children at all!

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Though, I do have to wonder if a lot of this is partially due to patriarchy telling women that they have to meet X standard of mommydom in order to be a “good mother”.

I mean, there’s the idea that you’re a “terrible mother” if you do this that or the other, and it’s always contradictory too.

Full Metal Ox | July 13, 2018 at 7:29 pm
Until chronic eye infections made it uncomfortable, I often used to wear red eyeliner—I wonder what Heyring would make of that?

You could always pull a drag look and just over-line your eyes to make them look bigger, if you want a suggestion.

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You just put the “eye line” further down, and it makes your eyes appear larger.

Marshmallow Stacy Maximal (formerly bluecat) | July 13, 2018 at 8:24 pm
I lost all my hair when I had chemo. Everything grew back, except for my eyebrows.

So, one of my favorite makeup YouTubers, Glam and Gore, actually used to shave off her eyebrows habitually because she was SO GINGER that they never showed up on her pale skin.

She actually got them tinted back in May, but she used to frequently draw them on.

Here’s an older video talking about her eyebrows:

Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
Kat, ambassador of the feminist government in exile
3 years ago

The vast majority of men would not and could not kill babies, nor rape their grieving mothers.

Thank you, Professor Heying. I appreciate you taking a quick glance around a busy street one day, observing that neither situation was in evidence, drawing a conclusion, and explaining it to the rest of us.

Say, do you think that a certain percentage of men on the front lines of a war might kill babies, rape their grieving mothers, or both?

Similarly, do you think that the president of the United States might set up a situation where the (often very young) children of parents who are seeking asylum in this country would be separated from their mothers and fathers for months?

Do you think that this US president might boast of “grabbing pussy”?

Or brag that it doesn’t matter what reporters write about you “as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of ass”?

If so, might his behavior in private be a lot worse?

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