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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.

janeainsworth Sun 15-Jul-18 13:38:06

Luckygirl Do you think when we wore miniskirts in the 60’s we were consciously ‘presenting ourselves in a highly sexualised way’?
I don’t think so.
I think that as Farnorth says, we were simply following the trends set by our peers, and even though our apparel may have been at variance with our grandparents’ ideas of modesty and appropriateness, we weren’t motivated by a desire to exert sexual power over men.
If there was any motivation other than a desire to conform, it perhaps lay in a rebellion against previous generations and ideas of propriety and their associations with war and the nuclear bomb.

janeainsworth Sun 15-Jul-18 13:39:04

Their ideas of propriety

Riverwalk Sun 15-Jul-18 13:52:36

I am not suggesting they should wear a burkha but simply that they should be conscious of the messages they are sending out

Luckygirl what message was the writer of the piece sending out when wearing a waiting uniform of classic tailored black and white? Whatever young girls and women wear, no matter how chaste, they can still be subject to sexual assault.

How about men take some responsibility? Why is it the female who should change her behaviour?

I'm minded to think of young primary school-aged girls in headscarves - the hot little minxes need to cover up so as to not attract male attention. Makes me sick!

Women and girls need to cover up or invite sexual assault because it's all part of nature - is that the message?

Ilovecheese Sun 15-Jul-18 13:56:10

When shopping, surely mothers teach their children that they can look but not touch some of the goods on display.

So why can't boys and men learn that they can look but not touch girls and women.

Is is so hard for them to understand?

Riverwalk Sun 15-Jul-18 14:07:43

When DS2 was about 20 his then girlfriend worked in the summer as a waitress in an upmarket, gentlemen's club-type restaurant in St James's.

Her uniform was the traditional male-type garb of black trousers and long white apron and blouse.

She said that, without fail and at every shift, she was propositioned and made to feel uncomfortable by middle-aged men old enough to be her father.

She was serving food to these men, at lunchtime, not lap-dancing and leading them astray.

Elegran Sun 15-Jul-18 14:22:21

Going back to the chimps with blushing bottoms - 98% of our genes are identical with chimpanzee ones, and sexuality is a basic drive which is present in both males and females in both species. The difference is that in humans the expression of it is hedged around with cultural habits and traditions, but it is still there, nevertheless.

In 2008 a group did a survey of "Changes in Women's Choice of Dress Across the Ovulatory Cycle" which seems to show that although women may not consciously be trying to allure men into a sexual relationship, their subconscious is well aware at the time of ovulation/fertility that the moment has come to mate and continue the species, so they do the equivalent of developing the red swollen behind. This has the side effect of the feel-good factor of receiving positive male responses (encouraged by social and media reinforcement) Unlike the chimps, who are restricted to what nature has given them, human females can do a "fake news" fertility announcement whenever they wish. When human males misread the signals, the social and cultural factors are brought into play, but the biological instincts are still there in both sexes.

The summary of that study goes - "The authors tested the prediction that women prefer clothing that is more revealing and sexy when fertility is highest within the ovulatory cycle. Eighty-eight women reported to the lab twice: once on a low-fertility day of the cycle and once on a high-fertility day (confirmed using hormone tests). In each session, participants posed for full-body photographs in the clothing they wore to the lab, and they drew illustrations to indicate an outfit they would wear to a social event that evening. Although each data source supported the prediction, the authors found the most dramatic changes in clothing choice in the illustrations. Ovulatory shifts in clothing choice were moderated by sociosexuality, attractiveness, relationship status, and relationship satisfaction. Sexually unrestricted women, for example, showed greater shifts in preference for revealing clothing worn to the laboratory near ovulation. The authors suggest that clothing preference shifts could reflect an increase in female—female competition near ovulation."

gmelon Sun 15-Jul-18 15:14:39

We have to compare what should happen with real life and act accordingly.

I should be able to leave my doors wide open and not be burgled.
I should be able to leave my handbag in full view in my unlocked car.
Women and girls should be able to wear as much or as little as they choose.

Regretfully we don't live in a world like that .

trisher Sun 15-Jul-18 15:59:04

There always seems to be during these discussions a real lack of appreciation that women and especially young women can and do enjoy having sex with men. The idea seems to prevail that they wear revealing clothing without being aware of what they are doing and that they are then offended when men make advances.I think there is now a large number of young women who know exactly what they are doing and what they want. In some cases that is just sex. The result of good contraception is that women can now choose to have recreational and not procreational sex.
Of course there are younger and less experienced women who copy these women's dress styles and then can't deal with the attention they attract. But equally there will always be men who will hit on younger women because its a power trip no matter what they are wearing. But this concept of toxic masculinity or toxic femininity is wrong for both sexes.

muffinthemoo Sun 15-Jul-18 16:18:07

I was a child. I was a child in a pair of a jeans and a floppy t shirt with a band’s name on it.

I was at work in a trouser suit and a polo neck.

I was in bed in my big old Bugs Bunny pyjamas.

I was coming home from the local shop in a pair of jeans, a borrowed hoodie and a parka.

I was sitting on the bus in old jeans for painting and a jumper with a hole at the wrist.

When you are raped or sexually assaulted, what are you going to blame when you don’t have “orgasm makeup” and “revealing clothes”?

I personally learned after therapy to blame the men who hurt me. Because it sure as hell was not my fault.

I wonder, who gets the blame for the sexual abuse of the elderly in care homes? Are their nighties and incontinence pants too revealing? Too attractive to abusers?

When will sexual violence stop being redefined to be somehow the fault of women and girls? We don’t trip, fall, and whoops, once again land on the hands and genitals of unfortunate poor men who of course are entirely innocent of any blame.

The only reason women and girls are raped is because they have the misfortune to cross paths with a rapist.

gmelon Sun 15-Jul-18 16:39:01

Very well said. Completely agree with your opinion which is seemingly
from experience.

Lazigirl Sun 15-Jul-18 17:05:24

Well and bravely said Muffinthemoo. The majority of men wouldn't rape a woman regardless of how she was dressed or how provocative she was. It's not necessarily a sex thing but about power and domination.

GrannyGravy13 Sun 15-Jul-18 17:08:00

muffinthemoo- very well said, wishing you well.

I am a mother of boys and girls, brought them up the same. It is time to stop blaming girls for being raped or assaulted it is the men that have done this that are to blame. Men also rape men, let's not forget.

There are rapes in India, Pakistan and Muslim countries where females wear burkas, and traditional dress, which are not revealing.

I can only recall one case of a female raping another female, and she was posing as a male.

Baggs Sun 15-Jul-18 17:17:16

When DS2 was about 20 his then girlfriend worked in the summer as a waitress in an upmarket, gentlemen's club-type restaurant in St James's. Her uniform was the traditional male-type garb of black trousers and long white apron and blouse. She said that, without fail and at every shift, she was propositioned and made to feel uncomfortable by middle-aged men old enough to be her father. She was serving food to these men, at lunchtime, not lap-dancing and leading them astray.

Then those men were behaving badly. As the article in the OP says, most men do not behave badly regardless of whether women are appropriately or inappropriately dressed. Heying covered that kind of annoyance in the article. She had similar experiences and "wished they wouldn't" make her feel uncomfortable but, at the same time, she says she "felt no risk" except once out of many times being "propositioned".

That scenario is quite separate from what she then goes on to describe as toxic femininity.

Baggs Sun 15-Jul-18 17:32:11

I think part of the purpose of the article is to bat down the "toxic masculinity" meme that is in vogue at the moment, by pointing out that women can be a bit toxic too sometimes.

Baggs Sun 15-Jul-18 17:56:40

Inspired by some recent tweets of our CariGransnet, I give you a word: coquettishness.

And a question: is female flirting okay but male flirting not?

And, if so, why? (Don't tell me all male flirting is damaging).

Luckygirl Sun 15-Jul-18 18:51:38

My main aim when my girls were teenagers was that they should be safe. No way would I sacrifice their well-being to a principle.

The issue of blame colours all thinking on this subject. I am not interested in apportioning blame to either men or women when communication breakdown occurs - my only interest was the safety of my DDs.

Elegran Sun 15-Jul-18 18:57:36

There used to be another word for girls/women who acted as though they were "up for it" all evening and then refused at the last moment. It was "cock teasers". Tease a cock long enough and it may peck you. That strategy probably led to a few date rapes!

Shakin' Stevens had a song

Elegran Sun 15-Jul-18 18:59:00

Great tune though.

FarNorth Mon 16-Jul-18 10:14:45

If someone has left a handbag in their unlocked car, and I open the door and take the handbag, that makes me a thief not just someone who was given the wrong message.

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 12:49:42

So it does, Farnorth, but the insurance company won't pay out if the car door was unlocked. The owner of the handbag has to accept that they have lost it and won't get the value of it back (well, the percentage that the insurance company would have been prepared to pay out, anyway).

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 12:52:59

There is also a difference between leaving the car door unlocked accidentally or opening it wide with a large placard on it saying "This handbag is full of £100 notes that I am giving away. I would be so pleased for you to take it."

Eloethan Mon 16-Jul-18 13:15:10

Words fail me.

janeainsworth Mon 16-Jul-18 16:14:37

I’m struggling too eloethan.
elegran the point of farnorth’s analogy was that even if temptation is put in someone’s way, that doesn’t lessen the crime.
Your analogy isn’t valid anyway, because the basis of rape is lack of consent.
If you offer your handbag full of £100 notes to the nearest stranger, you are consenting to them taking it, so they haven’t stolen it from you.

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 17:30:23

My point (going back to include my previous posts as well as these latest ones) is that in most animals mating is primarily initiated by unconscious and unintentional signals that the female is at the most fertile point in her oestral cycle These signals tell the male that now would be the best (or for most, the only) time to mate and ensure that her offspring carry his genes. The signal can be smell, taste (giraffe males are forever licking the female's rear to check), appearance (the chimp's red behind) or behaviour.

Animals only exhibit these signals at this time, and for most animals, that is the only time that they mate. Fertility and receptiveness go together. If an animal is not at her fertile phase, she does not display that she is ready, and she is not interested, neither is the male interested because the right button has not been pressed for him.

Human beings do not have this clear timing of fertility and receptiveness. Sexual activity can take place at any time of the month, whether or not it coincides with fertility.

But female human beings as well as other female animals still give unconscious and unintentional signals that they are ready for sex, and the bodies of male human beings respond to those signals. They include flushing of the skin of the neck and chest, and widening pupils.

(Centuries ago, girls put belladonna drops in their eyes to widen the pupils and rubbed red petals on the skin to give it that blush. The effect aimed for these days is much the same - rosy skin and wide eyes.)

Human beings are still animals in their instincts. That is not a condemnation or an accusation of basic beastliness, but the fact that they respond to their hormones just as much as animals do.

Every generation of young people has the same instinct to be attractive to the opposite sex, and every generation faces the same conflict between that instinct and whatever the current standards of sexual activity are.

We can and should train our boys to respect the decision of the girls they court on how far they follow the drive of those hormones , but there could inevitably be some who are tempted beyond their powers of control, for whatever reason. Girls also need to be trained to be aware of that, and to know what power they have and when to turn down the wattage. The self-control should not all lie with the young men.

I think that is what the article was saying about toxic masculinity and toxic femininity, though I don't like those terms.

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 17:45:12

I think my handbag analogy is valid. Using cosmetics to mimic sexual receptiveness, wearing clothes which accentuate the secondary sexual characteristics of full breasts and rounded hips and plunge to reveal most of the breasts and the legs up to the buttocks, drinking to release any inhibitions moving sensually and maintaining eye contact with those dilated-looking pupils and maintaining eye contact with those dilated-looking pupils - they may not think with their conscious minds that they are saying "I am available, come and get me" but that is what their subconscious is broadcasting, and that is what the subconscious mind of the male they are displaying to is receiving.

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 17:55:39

Those mini-skirts - yes, we were displaying our sexual attractiveness. It worked too, didn't it? We clicked with some great guys, who didn't take advantage of our attractiveness and rape us, they were too well-brought-up for that. They took us dancing and to the pictures and the theatre, they kissed and cuddled and took it as slowly as we wanted, we introduced them to our parents and we met theirs, and once we had passed all our exams we married and settled down and had many years of happiness. That was all according to our civilisation and our middle-class culture.

muffinthemoo Mon 16-Jul-18 18:20:58

If someone could explain to me how I can detach my vagina and leave it in a locksafe place like I can with my handbag, so I can go out in complete safety, that would be brilliant.

Eloethan Mon 16-Jul-18 18:33:28

"We" Elegran?

The account you give is about you. Don't presume that it everybody's experience. (And don't presume that only middle class men and women know how to behave in a civilised and decent way)

I am sure there will be several Gransnetters - we have already read the moving words of one - whose "civilisation and middle-class upbringing" did not protect them from physical and emotional damage or conform to the the "happy every after" story you relate.

As someone else pointed out, men also rape openly gay men and women - sometimes, reportedly, as a "punishment". Some men also rape children. This seems to support the notion that the vast majority of rapes are not about "mixed messages" resulting from clothing or behaviour or about unstoppable sexual desire but about inadequate men who need to control and exert power.

trisher Mon 16-Jul-18 19:19:31

Elegran what a narrow perception of relationships in the 60s. I don't think everyone behaved like that, in fact I know they didn't. There were quite a few promiscous girls who were busy having a good time with boys they never introduced to their parents and certainly never wanted to marry.
Of course rape is completely unacceptable but ths perception that it is girls who are provocatively dressed who are the ones who get raped is completely wrong. Rape isn't about sex it is about power and a decorously dressed girl can still be a target. In fact she may be more likely to be. And today some of the girls who do dress provocatively are actually looking for sex not necessarily a long term relationship

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 19:56:04

I said nothing about "only" middleclass young men behaving well toward girls, or about middleclass girls all being virtuous virgins. I know perfectly well that quiet girls attacked too. I was never raped - thank god - but I was attacked, in a deserted theatre at Moray House, when I was eating my solitary sandwich in an empty room. All the cast - I thought - had gone to the pub, but I was stony broke so said I would stay. One bloke returned, sought me out and was all set on - whatever. I removed his vacuuming face from mine by gripping his cheek and pulling, hard which caused a set of deepish scratches across it and must have encouraged him in his rapid retreat, all without a word spoken. He was a friend of the producer/lecturer and said to be a future star - I wonder how he explained the scars at auditions. I have also wondered which future star he became, if any - I didn't catch his name, and he never spoke to me.

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 20:04:22

The article that Baggs posted a link to didn't say that only scantily dressed girls get raped either. It said that girls looking and behaving excessively sexily were a threat to men. (What is excessive is a subject for discussion, of course, what one person thinks charmingly attractive looks like Jezebel on steroids to another) They seem to be inviting sexual attentions, but even a mild approach could be greeted with horror - they must see and never touch. It is a minefield now for young people starting off on love's roundabout. I don't envy them.

trisher Mon 16-Jul-18 20:42:28

but even a mild approach could be greeted with horror - they must see and never touch.
Oooh not necessarily. There's lots of touching (and more) in quite public places on nights out in the city where I live. The girls are not just displaying, and in groups they are a bit scarey. They pursue the men quite aggresively sometimes.

Elegran Mon 16-Jul-18 21:24:00

Yes indeed - but that is some girls, and the pursuers can be some men. Men are not always the aggressors and the girls not always the victims, any more than you can say that it is the other way round. It is the same old game that has always been played, with the same old misunderstandings.

Eglantine21 Mon 16-Jul-18 22:21:11

Now I want to say from the start that I’m not sure what point I’m making with this observation, just that I’d appreciate some viewpoints on it to help my clarify my thinking.

Recently I was walking along the beach, somewhat lost in thought when coming towards me was a man with no clothes on. I was alarmed and felt under threat.

He passed without incident, except for a bit of a look. A little further along, a naked couple. I was on a nudist beach! Several more naked men. No feeling of threat at all now.

A group of naked twenty something year old girls splashing in the sea. Nobody except me seeming to notice them even. Not provocative to anyone.

At this point I thought I would join in. The sea was warm. I dried in the sun and wind not having brought a towel. At no point did I feel uneasy even though I was naked where there were several naked men.

Then the man with clothes on came and stood on the sand dunes and watched. I felt threatened. I felt the girls in the water were being abused visually.

It wasn’t just about what was on display, was it? It was more to do with the person who was looking. I think.

Luckygirl Tue 17-Jul-18 08:45:42

"Luckygirl Do you think when we wore miniskirts in the 60’s we were consciously ‘presenting ourselves in a highly sexualised way’?"

It is not about what we are doing consciously; it is about the reality of biology.

As I said - blame is the name of the game, and this is not appropriate.

Luckygirl Tue 17-Jul-18 08:53:40

The "toxic femininity" idea is saying that as a woman I can do what the hell I like and it is up to men to resist the temptation that I am flaunting in their face. Ergo, men are animals and unable to control themselves.

Just as men have to behave in a civilised way so do women; and most do, of both genders.

Young women dressing provocatively and getting so legless that they do not know what they are doing is wholly inappropriate. I am not blaming them - they probably have problems in their lives that cause them to do this. In the same way I do not blame the young men who fall foul of this situation.

We cannot waltz though life in denial about the strength of the sexual urge, particularly in young men and women; and knowing this does colour our behaviour in the same way that knowing that cars can kill causes us to avoid stepping off the pavement.

I do find it very disturbing that young men are regarded in such a negative way and seen to be to blame when there are crossed wires in a sexual encounter. The duty is theirs to behave; but that goes for the woman too.

Elegran Tue 17-Jul-18 09:35:37

Thank you, Luckygirl "It is not about what we are doing consciously; it is about the reality of biology." That is what I was saying. We can teach our boys to control their biological instincts, but we have also to teach our girls to control theirs. If they are to be equal they can't be either victims or aggressors. That does not mean we force them into shapeless clothing and ban lipstick, it means that we teach them both the biology and the psychology that underpins relationships. We can't blame either one or the other for their biology, but we can have them see reality, not Mills and Boon fantasy.

Eloethan Tue 17-Jul-18 12:41:30

"The duty is theirs [men] to behave; but that goes for the woman too."

Women wearing revealing clothing hurts nobody and is not a crime. Sexual assault is not "bad behaviour", it is a crime.

Nobody has yet defined exactly what type of clothing crosses the line and, as far as I am aware, there is no evidence to suggest that women who get raped are more likely to be wearing certain types of clothing.

Men who sexually assault male and female children and adults always have an excuse for their crimes and try to place the blame on the child or adult for the assault.

There is a suggestion that middle class/educated young men don't behave in this way. There have been plenty of reports over the last few years of male behaviour in all sorts of settings that demeans and disrespects women in the most unpleasant and aggressive ways.

From the Guardian, 2014:

"For female students starting at Emmanuel College, Cambridge this month, a depressing welcome awaited. Student newspaper The Tab reported on a leaked email encouraging members of an all-male drinking society to “smash it (/the girls)”.

"Others from different universities report “points systems” for games such as “fuck a fresher”, “seal clubbing”, or “sharking” – where older male students win points for sleeping with first-year girls. (In some cases, extra points were reported for taking a girl’s virginity or keeping their underwear as a trophy.) In many cases, these are the people supposed to be looking after freshers as they settle in.

"At the University of Nottingham, a video has emerged showing a crowd of first-year students singing a chant including the lines:

These are the girls that I love best,
Many times I’ve sucked their breasts
Fuck her standing, fuck her lying,
If she had wings I’d fuck her flying
Now she’s dead, but not forgotten,
Dig her up and fuck her rotten

"It echoes last year’s video of students at Stirling University chanting on a public bus about sexual assault and miscarriage."

It will be argued, I am sure, that women need to be more confident in sticking up for themselves and dealing firmly with issues of this nature. Development of such confidence and self-belief will surely be hindered when the underlying narrative from some is that "boys will be boys" and women who are sexually harassed or assaulted must look to their own behaviour to prevent such things happening.

janeainsworth Tue 17-Jul-18 13:33:26

Nobody has yet defined exactly what type of clothing crosses the line
Quite, eloethan.
elegran and luckygirl
If I go out on Saturday night in my killer heels, wearing rather more makeup than usual, a sleeveless knee-length dress and displaying some of my admittedly not-very-voluptuous cleavage, to go ballroom dancing with some other 60-somethings, am I sending signals to the men there that I’m ‘up for it’, or am I just indulging in a bit of competitive dressing-up? Women are said to dress not to please men, but to impress other women.
Am I guilty of ‘toxic femininity’?
Or is that sin the prerogative of young, pre-menopausal women?

Luckygirl Tue 17-Jul-18 14:47:04

The toxic femininity is about always laying the blame at the door of men, not about what you might choose to wear.

trisher Tue 17-Jul-18 15:36:29

I suppose it is about degrees of response as well. So Heather Heying castigates the young woman who is complaining about men staring at her, so janeainsworth how would you feel if one of the 60+ men spent the whole of a dance staring down the front of your dress? And is it "Toxic" if you don't like it?
As far as the Uni singing goes, some of the songs I heard in Uni bars in the 60s were completely unrepeatable, the agrics and the rugby teams were the worst, but most of the boys were well brought up, certainly middle and upper class, many weren't used to the company of girls and very few of them were confident when they were away from the crowd. I think it's a rite of passage and not necessarily indicative of toxic masculinity.

knickas63 Tue 17-Jul-18 15:58:58

This isn't about 'asking for it' - she clearly states that no woman (or man) should be touched without permission. But looking? I agree that if either man or woman goes around higlighting and showing off their best bits, then they should expect to get looked at and not complain. Looking is fine. To be quite honest I don't even mind the odd wolf whistle ( so long ago .....). It is the touching and more that is reprehensible, and the Judging! The Judging is in itself toxic. There are some cultures where a woman can walk through a crowd of men completely covered and she would be far from safe, and some where she could walk through in a bikini - yes she would be looked at an probably comments made, but in general she would be safe. In fact, I suspect most of the men would jump in to help if she was in danger. Hiding the female figure often causes the feeling of forbidden fruit and can cause more harm than good.

janeainsworth Tue 17-Jul-18 16:17:27

how would you feel if one of the 60+ men spent the whole of a dance staring down the front of your dress? And is it "Toxic" if you don't like it?
It was a hypothetical question really trisher and I’m not sure whether you mean a single dance or the whole evening, but a) they’d have a job keeping up with me as I’d be whirling all over the dance floor, b) I probably wouldn’t notice, and c) if I did, I’d either move away or force them to make eye contact by means if scintillating conversation.
I don’t think it’s toxic to simply not like over-attentiveness. ‘Toxic’ (a much overused word these days) implies an excessive or over-reaction.