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Enchant small children and drive away assholes with this one weird trick

Aposematism in action?

By David Futrelle

Do you want to convince small children that you’re some kind of magical being, while at the same time repelling the absolute worst men in the world? This blurry screenshot from Tumblr might have the answer for you!

I think Amby Jane is onto something here. As anyone who has been reading this blog for any length of time already knows, misogynistic douchebros have a lot of strangely intense feelings about women’s hair. They all seem to love long hair, hate short hair, and grow positively apoplectic when women dye their hair “unnatural” colors (most of which are actually perfectly natural).

“Always in search of the next way to destroy their nature-given beauty, Western females have begun to dye their hair at alarming rates,” warned the pseudonymous Winston Smith on Return of Kings, back when that blog was still a going concern

It has to be stopped. …

[A] girl having hair dyed with a non-traditional color is a leading indicator of instability, mental illness, and an inability to function within a healthy relationship.

In Smith’s backwards brain, women with brightly-colored hair aren’t just unattractive to him; they’re objectively ugly, according to SCIENCE.

“[H]umans have hard-wired attraction preferences for the physical appearance of their mates,” he asserted.

In the same way that we are uncontrollably disgusted with the sight of an obese person, our lizard hindbrains make a split-second judgment against women with dyed hair because unnatural looking hair (whether it’s short, falling out, or unnaturally colored) was a symptom of disease and infirmity in our ancestral habitat.

These guys love making up stories and calling them science. There are plenty of people who are not only not “uncontrollably disgusted” by fat people; they actually prefer their partners plump. And I rather doubt there were a lot of blue-haired diseased people in our species’ environment of evolutionary adaptation, given that there is literally no disease out there that turns people’s hair blue, unless I slept through that day in biology class.

Meanwhile, the self-described Men’s Human Rights Activists over on A Voice for Men are convinced that blue hair is enough of a threat to the fundamental rights of men that they created a special tag for it: “Sluts With Blue Hair.”

Amazing human rights advocacy there, fellas!

It isn’t just Return of Kings writers who think that science backs up their hatred of blue haired women. So-called Red Pilled dudes regularly compare dyed hair to the natural adaptation called “aposematism,” in which potential prey animals warn predators through signals like brightly colored skin that eating them won’t be much fun.

In a discussion several months ago in the Ask The Red Pill subreddit, a Red Piller called VasiliyZaitzev explained that he sees brightly dyed hair

as a form of aposematism, in much the same way the certain coloration on frogs warns predators that the frog is poisonous.

Even guys who claim to be “Going Their Own Way” away from women get angry when these women dye their hair. In the MGTOW2 subreddit a month ago, a guy calling himself Robotmasher argued that dyed hair is a

signal to you that you should keep a healthy distance from them, and not give them any attention. They are in essence doing you a favor.

None of these guys seem to realize what a massive self-own this argument is. If blue hair is a form of aposematism designed to ward off predators, and it wards you off, what exactly does that imply about you?

As a male-human-predator-repeller, dyed hair seems to be doing the trick, at least to some extent, in that it really does seem to scare off the sorts of guys who turn to sites like Return of Kings and the various Red Pill subreddits for advice about women.

In a recent discussion of the blue hair strategy in the WitchesVsPatriarchy subreddit — yes, this is a thing — a number of women noted that the brightly-dyed hair thing was working for them both as a predator-repeller and a child-delighter.

“When I added a chunk of purple to my (already short) hair, I got fewer catcalls AND my niece is obsessed with it, so, yes,” wrote a Redditor called pamplemouss.

“I’ve had fewer catcalls, but lots more kind compliments,” wrote a self-described Sapphic Witch with blue hair.

And, of course, little girls everywhere stare in awe at me, then immediately ask their parents if they can have hair like mine.

Alas, the strategy is not without some possible downsides. Several women in the WitchesVsPatriarchy discussion reported that while they repel the dudebro  they now got more creepy attention from “guys who seem to almost fetishize ” brightly-colored hair.

“Do not recommend burgundy/purple if you want men to leave you the fuck alone,” wrote one annoyed hair-dyer.

I recently dyed my hair and I’ve gotten so many freaking men using it as a jumping off point. Some perfectly polite and pleasant, some definitely not so. But whatevs, I like this color and I guess cat calls aren’t gonna stop me?

Other women reported that men now came up to them to pester them about their hair. “When I had pink hair,” wrote rileyfriley,

I didn’t get hit on hardly at all, but every man felt the need to tell me that men don’t like weird colored hair. So it was an added bonus that I routine got to tell men that women don’t like when they speak.

So the blue hair thing is far from a perfect solution, at least for women who want to avoid harassment from men entirely. But if your aim is to piss off some of the worst dudes in the world, dying your hair blue will almost certainly do the trick.

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Alan Robertshaw
Alan Robertshaw
1 year ago

Thank you ever so much for all the input on the poisonous animal thing! You’ve really helped me try to model this.

One of the many things I love about this space is there’s so many people willing and able to share knowledge on just about any subject under the Sun (and when EJ’s here, any subject in space too).

Genjones
Genjones
1 year ago

If only that was in the realm of available body-modification. When we achieve full Batman-Beyond furry splicer technology, I predict future PUAs will be complaining about how you can’t talk to women without them deploying their squid ink.

Robert
Robert
1 year ago

Decades ago, before my husband grew his locks, he dyed his natural a quite fetching green color. Given that he’s a six foot one broad-shouldered Black man, he didn’t get a lot of catcalls. I thought it looked good.

I’ve never put anything more exotic than henna on my own hair.

I *have* occasionally complimented people of various genders on their unnaturally colored hair, because I like making people feel good about themselves.

Karen
Karen
1 year ago

In our “ancestral habitat” wouldn’t more weight be seen as better health and an indicator possibly more successful pregnancies?

Also, we aren’t supposed to dye our hair but I bet they have a lot to say about those of us who choose not to cover our greys.

Valkyrine
Valkyrine
1 year ago

What I don’t get is how does short hair equal disease for women but not for men? I have never heard or seen a man getting shit for having a short hair, yet if it was supposed to be a sign of an illness, shouldn’t lizardbrains shun him too?

opposablethumbs
opposablethumbs
1 year ago

@Genjones, when we all get the body-mods of our dreams, I want chromatophores – all over, in all the colours. And all over includes the irises. Wow, how fabulous would that be …

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
1 year ago

@genjones, opposablethumbs:
Heh. The Cyberpunk 2.0.2.0 game system actually did have official rules for ‘furry’ mods (in Chromebook 2). It was a bit of a fad fashion, but then, fad fashions are a significant part of cyberpunk. And tails or claws could be useful in combat.

There’s also a mod in the core rulebook for colour-changing hair that can be controlled on the fly through an implant.

I combined the two together for a character in a cyberpunk story I was working on, somebody who went for a feline biosculpt with the colour-changing hair all over her body. She was also a rock star. Her live shows were quite something to see.

Snowberry
Snowberry
1 year ago

If futuristic body mod concepts ever became a thing, I’d probably just try out a variety of different physical configurations over time… Assuming that they were feasible and not so fringe-y that it was prone to discrimination and abuse. Mostly because sometimes I’d like to have not merely a variety of different experiences, but a variety of different ranges of experiences. That being said, if there’s a social cost, I’d think long and hard about whether to pay it.

brian
brian
1 year ago

I guess “unnatural” dyed hair always warded ME off in that I loved it but figured those women were too cool for me. nowadays I am married and my wife has purple hair. she is also definitely too cool for me. luckily for me, she disagrees.

moon custafer
moon custafer
1 year ago

Also not a biologist, but I’ve heard of some instances of predator and prey populations getting into an arms race where toxins are concerned, until you end up with something way, way more poisonous than it seemingly needs to be — because one local predator species has been evolving resistance.

Tovius
1 year ago

Monarch butterflies are poisonous because they eat milkweed leaves as caterpillars, so that would be another example of being poisonous without a heavy metabolic cost.

Michael Suttkus, II
Michael Suttkus, II
1 year ago

Just because you’re not making a poison doesn’t mean it doesn’t have a heavy metabolic cost. You have to rework your own chemistry to protect yourself from the poison, after all, that is going to have a significant cost. You’ll also need biochemical system to retain the chemicals in your system instead of having them be slowly flushed out over time, which will also have a cost.

tim gueguen
1 year ago

I would be entirely unsurprised if Winston Smith thinks women are destroying their “nature-given beauty” when they don’t shave their body hair in the right places and to a level acceptable to him, or if they don’t have a hairstyle he approves of, even if they have long hair. Too long and too straight? Then they’re some damn hippie chick who’s been duped by the SJWs into Wicca and feminism.

Catalpa
Catalpa
1 year ago

Given the staggering ratio of poisonous plant species compared to poisonous animal species (I swear that almost every plant is poisonous somehow), I would expect that poison was probably initially a plant-level evolutionary strategy. Being as that plants are organisms which are generally much better able to survive being partially eaten, poison is likely selected for that much more heavily. I think that animals probably got in on the poison game by eating plant poisons and surviving/storing them. Though I’m no evolutionary biologist and my assumptions could be wrong, of course.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
1 year ago

@Catalpa:
Possibly. After all, both caffeine and nicotine are poisons to a lot of the animals that normally eat plants.

Quentin Long
1 year ago

moon custafer: “I’ve heard of some instances of predator and prey populations getting into an arms race where toxins are concerned, until you end up with something way, way more poisonous than it seemingly needs to be — because one local predator species has been evolving resistance.”

Another good example would be humans and insanely hot peppers.

Catalpa
Catalpa
1 year ago

@Jenora

Yeah, humans have developed a huge range of resistances/ways to metabolize substances that are incredibly toxic to other species. Comes from being omnivores. Onions and garlic are another example of plants that developed toxins that humans decided to find delicious.

Moon_custafer
Moon_custafer
1 year ago

I’m surprised it doesn’t come up more often in the “Humans as Space Orcs” discussion that periodically comes around on Tumblr: “Humans consume toxic substances like theobromine and capsaicin, not to mention alcohol, for fun.”

Bina
1 year ago

And, of course, little girls everywhere stare in awe at me, then immediately ask their parents if they can have hair like mine.

…which might just have the added benefit of repelling MRA-adjacent pedophiles, so…WIN!

harmless
harmless
1 year ago

In my experience, green works even better than blue in getting men to avoid you like the plague. God knows why. But it’s my new favorite

Otrame
Otrame
1 year ago

@Jenora Feuer

Actually, nicotine is really really poisonous to us, too. Dosage is everything. Two guys who were competing in how many bowls of tobacco they could smoke in a row both died (pretty sure this was in the 19th century—and tobacco has a LOT more nicotine in it these days). Toddlers who have eaten a cigarette or two have died.

Jenora Feuer
Jenora Feuer
1 year ago

@Quentin Long:
The fun part of that is that in many of those cases, the artificial selection caused by human breeding has essentially made what would otherwise be an evolutionarily questionable change into a winner for the species.

@Catalpa:
Well, except for my mother, who’s allergic to garlic.

But yes, humans have pretty broad palettes. As I keep pointing out to folks in the furry community as well, humans survived for a reason: we have a cardiovascular system that wipes the floor with just about anything else on the planet. There’s only one other species on the planet that could keep up with a human in a marathon: the wolf. (So of course we domesticated it and made it a hunting partner.)

@Moon_custafer:
Hardly just humans. My uncle had an orchard, and he’d have deer eating the half-rotten plums that had been sitting around the tree for a while, and getting drunk from them. A friend of mine had a dairy farm where the silage trough got blocked up with water and fermented. Drunk cows are not fun things to deal with, nor are cows with hangovers. But immediately after they recovered, they’d be back at the same trough again.

There just seems to be a weird little high that creatures can get fighting off toxins, as the pain and the countering endorphins don’t exactly line up in time, or something like that.

@Otrame:
Oh, I know that nicotine is poisonous to us; enough of it tends to overload the system, and it can look like a panic attack, sweating and elevated heart rate. I believe heart attacks can result. (Wasn’t there an Agatha Christie mystery once where it turned out that the murder had been committed using concentrated nicotine that had been stored for use as a bug spray on the greenhouse tomatoes, or something like that? It seems like a Poirot sort of thing.)

Of course, so is alcohol; there are deaths from alcohol poisoning pretty much every year at Frosh Week at some university. (One of the reasons I’m glad I was introduced to alcohol by my family in a responsible manner even before I was technically legal; a lot less mystery to chase after later.)

The way I’ve heard it phrased is ‘the dose makes the poison’. (Yes, I hang out at Respectful Insolence on occasion as well.)

ellesar
ellesar
1 year ago

I started dyeing my hair blue last May. It was a complete coincidence, as I just found a load of dye super cheap, and the only shade was blue – a GORGEOUS shade of blue. So now I use a permanent purple AND a temporary blue. Must cause a few internal screaming fits a day, I can hope!

Alex Faust
Alex Faust
1 year ago

“Men don’t like unnatural hair colours”? Maybe boring, insecure men.
Men who aren’t so desperately clinging to their fragile masculinity that they feel the need to oppress & dehumanise women tend to be attracted to displays of individuality & self-expression.