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Heather Heying (rhymes with flying) on toxic femininity

(68 Posts)
Baggs Sat 14-Jul-18 17:38:00

Oh, how well she expresses what I've known in my guts forever! Paragraphs 18-20 in particular (some paragraphs are only one sentence long).

M0nica Sat 14-Jul-18 18:56:47

Oh, absolutely, like you, Baggs, I have known it and said it, but I will be honest, I am careful where I say it. Brought up a catholic, we were taught to avoid sin and occasions of sin, ie do not take risks, whether it is dressing to attract offers you do not intend to fulfill, nor leave your house lea

In more practical terms. when I go out I do not leave the front door open, with all my valuables on display. Not just because my insurance would be void if I did not, but also because while no one ought to walk in and take my belongings. if I put temptation in someone's way they may succumb.

ffinnochio Sat 14-Jul-18 18:56:56

Indeed she does.
In particular, paras 12 and 24>27 resonate.

M0nica Sat 14-Jul-18 18:57:24

Sorry, post posted itself half revised, but you get the just of whatI am saying

Cherrytree59 Sat 14-Jul-18 19:07:25

If person opts to go out with honey smeared hair they are completely within their rights to do so.
But if a wasp stings......

Jane10 Sat 14-Jul-18 19:32:07


Sparklefizz Sat 14-Jul-18 20:05:55

And when a female judge made similar points earlier this year, she was hounded.

Riverwalk Sat 14-Jul-18 20:54:59

Blaming women again - they need to cover up and not flaunt their 'hotness'? hmm

How does that square with Paragraph 7 where she was sexually assaulted when working as a waitress in 'classic tailored black and white'. No asking for it there.

OldMeg Sat 14-Jul-18 21:04:25

Interesting article baggs

The lines “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“ are very much at the heart of discussions we have had here on GN and I think she makes that point clearly.

Elegran Sat 14-Jul-18 21:20:07

Female chimps get a bright red swollen bottom when they are in season and ready to be mated. It is obvious to the males, so they oblige. If a female chimp were to paint her bottom red when she wasn't in oestrus, the males would be very confused.

OldMeg Sat 14-Jul-18 21:59:13


M0nica Sat 14-Jul-18 22:08:46

No blaming and no asking for it, no means no, but the rule in every aspect of life is not to go looking for trouble unless you know how to deal with it.

I am going to bed now, having checked the doors are all shut and locked, there are no lights left on, and anything valuable I have is not on the window sill or easily visible.

Luckygirl Sat 14-Jul-18 22:11:26

Indeed Baggs - 100% with you.

I advanced a few similar arguments on Mumsnet once - I was shot down in flames in a very very big way!!!! And really shocked by the uniform anti-men response. I really felt that I would not want to be a man today; and would be concerned about how to bring up a son to feel good about himself.

The thread related to a serious attack on a woman that had taken place, and these posters were objecting to the idea that parents should counsel their children (and daughters in particular) to exercise discretion and common sense when (for instance) walking in lonely places after dark. The idea that a parent might do this was seen as automatically implying that any woman who was attacked was at fault; that they had been asking for it. The thread went on into similar territory as the article you posted Baggs.

It did indeed feel toxic. The idea that a woman can pretend that her behaviour does not influence how others respond to her is ideological nonsense.

FarNorth Sat 14-Jul-18 22:21:29

"Young women have vast sexual power. [...........] They are also all but certain to lack the wisdom to manage it".

Young women, and teenage girls, have very little idea of the effect they can have on males.
They dress and make-up in ways that are presented as desirable by media, pop videos etc.

Eloethan Sat 14-Jul-18 23:34:45

Heather Heying uses the word "hot" to describe a woman. I believe it was an expression originally coined by men to describe women purely in sexual terms and which implies she is available. Her use of the word, in my opinion, demonstrates her willingness to accept this notion, which, in effect, reduces women to sexual objects.

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

For one thing, I'm not sure anyone has suggested men should not look at women or approach them - and it is certainly not illegal to do so. But looking and approaching is very different from crude and intimidating comments or actual physical assault.

For another, this sounds dangerously like the sort of reasoning that various religious groups use to justify imposing "rules" on their women as to what manner of dress and adornment are acceptable so as to:

prevent them from "tempting" men

save them from sexual assault, which will inevitably occur if they break the rules, and for which they will be held ultimately responsible.

What exactly constitutes clothes that highlight sexually-selected anatomy? A clingy v-necked jumper? An off-the-shoulder blouse? a short blouse that reveals the belly button? a pair of shorts? a short skirt/dress? (and, if so, what would be an acceptable length of skirt/dress - knee length, midi, full length?) a leotard that shows the contours of the body? In the "old days" the glimpse of an ankle was thought to be provocative and indecent.

What exactly is make up that hints at impending orgasm? Lipstick of any colour? red lipstick? glossy lipstick? blusher? Should we return to the "old days" when women who wore make up were seen as being immoral and promiscuous?

She says that "any claim made by a member of an historically oppressed group is [held to be] unquestionably true". Is that really the case? Does the arrest and conviction rate for sexual crimes demonstrate this? The term "oppressed group" is obviously also meant to encompass ethnic groups and suggests, as with women, that their ethnicity affords them great advantages and privileges over other groups. Is that truly the case for non-white people/women in the US or here?

OldMeg Sun 15-Jul-18 03:55:36

Sorry but I think your post Eloethan places women back in the ‘victim’ category. Monica’s post takes the sexuality out of the arguement and simply points out the obvious.

janeainsworth Sun 15-Jul-18 07:24:09

I agree with you Eloethan.

Baggs Sun 15-Jul-18 07:50:54

Women are sexual objects. So are men. So are all other sexual life forms.

This does not excuse bad behaviour in men or women. Nor does it make either of them victims. It simply accepts that sexuality is powerful and it does drive behaviour, that, as E.O.Wilson says in the very first sentence of his essay, Sociobiology: Sex and Human Nature : "Sex, of course, permeates every aspect of our existence". Scientifically, he's right. Heying hints at this with her reference to sexual selection (c/f Darwinian natural selection).

Baggs Sun 15-Jul-18 07:56:14

I realise the phrase 'sexual object' is usually used in a negative way. I am using the term in a non-negative way.

OldMeg Sun 15-Jul-18 08:43:32

Pyschology and Sociology are not exact sciences. Theories in these disciplines cannot be proved in the same way as most other sciences and therefore the writings of, for instance, E.O. Wilson, though primarily a biologist, are also very much those of a theorist.

janeainsworth Sun 15-Jul-18 08:53:20

Men and women are not only sexual objects, baggs.
Human behaviour is not governed simply by instinct, but by thought and judgement, and values such as honesty and compassion. There are also cultural norms which vary between different societies.
That is why behaving towards people as sex objects is negative and unacceptable.

FarNorth Sun 15-Jul-18 09:27:02

Young people are very much influenced by what they see and hear around them.
From a very young age, girls are bombarded with information, including images of 'celebrities', that tells them how to present themselves.
Yet when they do present themselves in similar ways, they are to be considered the ones at fault? And criticised as toxic?

I agree with Eloethan's post also.

Eloethan Sun 15-Jul-18 09:30:08

As I have said before, if a woman - or a man - is verbally or physically intimidated or assaulted they are the victims of a crime. That does not mean that they are pathetic, snivelling creatures who have in some way contributed to a general notion of victimhood. It is just a word to describe someone who has been subjected to behaviour which has frightened, demeaned or hurt them in some way.

If you feel that there should be some sort of dress code to which women should adhere, perhaps - as I enquired - you could specify exactly what is and is not acceptable and at which point the line should be considered to have been crossed?

As Riverwalk has already pointed out, the writer of the article herself refers to a time when her manner of dress did not "display" "sexually-selected anatomy" and yet she was seen as a target, experiencing unwanted and uninvited sexual touching, which frightened and intimidated her and which, had she not been able to extricate herself, could have ended very differently. At that time she was in a relatively powerless position and was perhaps seen as someone who would be unlikely to jeopardise future waitressing assignments by kicking up a fuss. It would be interesting to know if she made a complaint about this man's behaviour.

Lazigirl Sun 15-Jul-18 09:35:01

👏👏👏👏👏 Eloethan. Sometimes I wonder if I have inadvertently clicked on the Mail on Line instead of GN!

Luckygirl Sun 15-Jul-18 12:11:38

I had three daughters. They were all clear about the messages that their dress and behaviour sent out to others; and that there was a need to keep themselves safe in some situations.

The principle that women should not be the target of sexual advances, whilst at the same time presenting themselves in a highly sexualized way just does not add up. I am not suggesting they should wear a burkha but simply that they should be conscious of the messages they are sending out - and happy that they are doing so. That is their choice.