Biology Professor Calls Out ‘Toxic Femininity’

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by David Nussman  •  •  July 18, 2018   

Heather Heying says smearing all men for being male is also toxic

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DETROIT ( - A biology professor is causing a stir by challenging the narrative on toxic masculinity.

Biologist Heather Heying wrote a piece for Quillette called "On Toxic Femininity." She notes that toxic masculinity exists in the form of men exploiting women sexually. But she says that "toxic femininity" is also a problem.

She argues, "Yes, toxic masculinity exists. But the use of the term has been weaponized. It is being hurled without care at every man."

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

Heying argues that, alongside "toxic masculinity," there is "toxic femininity," which involves incessantly blaming men and condemning all things masculine. 

She describes toxic femininity by citing a handful of behaviors that are common today:

Creating hunger in men by actively inviting the male gaze, then demanding that men have no such hunger — that is toxic femininity. Subjugating men, emasculating them when they display strength — physical, intellectual or other — that is toxic femininity. 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. It is a game, the benefits of which go to a few while the costs are shared by all of us.

Heying goes on to note that some young women emphasize their sex appeal — she calls it "hotness" — with skimpy, sensual outfits and then get upset with men for being tempted to lust for them.

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She gives an example of this from her own experience with a student:

I had a student on one of my study abroad trips who had a perennial problem with clothing. She was never wearing enough of it. She was smart, athletic and beautiful, but also intent on advertising hotness at all moments. At a field station in a jungle in Latin America, she approached me to complain that the local men were looking at her. The rest of us were wearing field gear — a distinctly unrevealing and unsexy garb. She was in a swimsuit. "Put on more clothes," I told her. She was aghast. She wanted me to change the men, to talk to them about where to point their eyes. Here in their home, where we were visitors, and one of the gringos had shown up nearly naked, she wanted the men to change.

In the article, Heying clarifies that her purpose is not to claim rape victims were somehow "asking for it" by dressing a certain way. When Heying was in high school in Los Angeles, she writes, she was subject to an attempted sexual assault while working for a high-end catering company.

Instead, Heying says her message is that women who flaunt their sexuality should not be surprised when men find them sexually attractive.

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

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

Although she argues from an evolutionary perspective, Heying begins the article by pointing out that most men act nothing like mere animals: 

Given the opportunity, male lions will kill the kittens in a pride over which they have gained control. They commit infanticide, which brings the new mothers, freshly childless, back into estrous. The females are quickly impregnated. This, we can all agree, is disturbing behavior, and may make some people feel rather less pleased with lions.

Given the opportunity, the vast majority of modern human males would do no such thing.

She wraps up the piece on a hopeful note, writing, "It is shocking that this bears saying, but there is a world of men who are smart and compassionate and eager to have vibrant, surprising conversations with other people, both men and women."

Heying is an evolutionary biologist. She describes herself as a "professor in exile." She and her husband, Bret Weinstein, had to leave Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington after backlash from leftists posed a threat to their safety.

The campus had a tradition called Day of Absence. Racial minorities leave campus one day a year to highlight their importance in the community. But in 2017, the tradition was changed to encourage white students and faculty to leave campus for a day. Weinstein opposed the change, saying it twisted the event's message from appreciating diversity to fostering racial division.

Leftists protested, accusing Weinstein of racism. Weinstein and Heyer faced threats to their safety and eventually had to leave Evergreen State College, owing to protests and death threats. The college later paid the couple $500,000 in a settlement.


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