Categories
sexual harassment warren farrell

Warren Farrell: Sexual harassment lawsuits are just the latest version of the female mate selection process

By David Futrelle

I‘ve been rereading Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power — basically the MRA bible — and boy does my brain hurt.

If you haven’t had the distinct unpleasure of reading any of Farrell’s books, it’s hard to convey just how frustrating and infuriating his writing style is; it’s rambling and convoluted and weirdly evasive. It’s as if he faintly knows that what he’s saying makes no goddamn sense and is trying to do his best to cover up his leaps of illogic with sheer bafflegab.

Let me present you with some of his finest work in this vein, found in his discussion of sexual harassment.

As you might expect, Farrell is not a big fan of sexual harassment legislation, which he feels is discriminatory against men because how are they supposed to know when they’re sexually harassing someone? And also isn’t it unfair that women still get to dress all sexy at work, I mean, it’s like they want you to sexually harass them or something.

That is, as best as I can discern it, his basic argument. But the more closely you read his writing on the subject the weirder it gets. Let’s take this extended disquisition on the evils of miniskirts.

Many women ask, “What’s the big deal with a miniskirt, perfume, and a little flirting in the workplace?” It would not be a big deal for most men if no one were making a big deal of the man’s response.

In other words, it wouldn’t be a big deal if no one cared about men ogling women in the office and saying sexually suggestive things to them about said miniskirts.

But, he thinks, it sends out the wrong sort of signals to men, who see a woman in a miniskirt and think “there’s a woman who wants to get married and quit work.”

It is a big deal, though, for the woman—if her goal is to be treated seriously at work. Here’s why. Her indirect initiatives signal to the man her tendency to avoid direct responsibility. Indirect initiatives signal to him that he is dealing with a woman who is traditional. And traditionally, indirect initiatives were designed to lead to marriage and the end of her involvement in the workplace.

Yeah, maybe if you live inisde a sitcom from the 1960s

So the miniskirt, perfume, and flirting unconsciously tell the man that this woman wants an end to her involvement in the workplace—or, at least, an end to her involvement by obligation.

Because it’s so common for women to marry and quit their jobs. So common that in fact women make up the majority of those in the workforce.

If you were a boss who had to choose between promoting someone who had the option to work versus someone with the obligation to work (e.g., to support a spouse and three children), whom would you take more seriously?

Most women, miniskirted or not, don’t have the option to not work. Only about a quarter of mothers are stay-at-home housewives these days.

Oh, but he’s not done. If you thought wearing miniskirts was bad, consider lipstick. And/or flowers in the hair.

In almost all cultures throughout human history, women’s indirect initiatives were their way of signaling their desire for men to take direct initiatives.

If she smiles at you, it means she wants your dick pics.

A flirtation was an invitation. In some cultures, lipstick was a woman’s way of signaling her willingness to perform fellatio. In the South Sea islands, a fresh flower in a woman’s hair signaled availability. The purpose of the flower, lipstick, or the miniskirt is to put the signal out strongly enough to stimulate every man’s interest. It is only when she has every man’s interest that she has real choice—the choice of the “best” men.

What is it with these guys and lipstick? No, dude, women wearing lipstick aren’t “signaling” anything other than the fact that they think they look good in lipstick.

Also, I want to know exactly which cultures think lipstick means “she wants to give blowjobs.” Farrell has no footnote for that fun factoid; I’m guessing it was pulled directly from his ass.

Farrell then concludes that when women say “no” to the men attracted to them by miniskirts and lipstick and hair-flowers they really mean “keep going.”

What has been the historical importance of her barriers—her “no, noes”? It was her way of selecting a man who could handle life’s rejections and survive, who cared enough for her to take risks, and who would assume total responsibility should anything go awry.

Apparently the ladies are really into guys who do and say things that would get them accused of sexual harassment if they did or said them to someone else?

In a sense, sexual harassment lawsuits are just the latest version of the female selection process—allowing her to select for men who care enough for her to put their career at risk; who have enough finesse to initiate without becoming a jerk and enough guts to initiate despite a potential lawsuit. During this process, she gets a sense of his trustworthiness, his commitment, his ability to overcome barriers, the way he handles rejection.

I’m pretty sure that most women are far more appreciative of men who handle rejection by not hitting on them any more than they are of those who respond to “no” by escalating their “courtship” behavior.

Sexual initiatives by men toward women below them at work is the most frequent definition of sexual harassment. When it works, it’s called courtship. When it doesn’t work, it’s called harassment.

Huh. Maybe men shouldn’t be hitting on women they supervise in the first place. (Or vice versa)

Anyway, enough of that. Does anyone want to hear his defense of dirty jokes at work?

Although both sexes have their own styles of humor, we often heard during the Thomas-Hill confrontation that dirty jokes were the way male bosses exert their power over women. Hardly. Men share dirty jokes with peers, buddies, and with anyone with whom they feel comfortableA dirty joke is often a male boss’s unconscious way of getting his staff to not take him so seriously and therefore not be intimidated; his way of creating an atmosphere of easier feedback, of getting his staff to bond. Men get confused when women say they feel left out when they’re not included, then sue when they are included!

Ah women, those mysterious creatures who for some strange reason don’t want to “bond” with their boss over some joke about a man from Nantucket.

Farrell, for better or worse, is the intellectual godfather of the Men’s Rights movement; his ideas have basically defined the ideology of the movement for nearly three decades. No wonder the Men’s Rights movement is so fucked up.

Send tips to dfutrelle at gmail dot com.

We Hunted the Mammoth relies entirely on readers like you for its survival. If you appreciate our work, please send a few bucks our way! Thanks!

Subscribe
Notify of
guest

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

89 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Airis Damon
Airis Damon
3 months ago

Ah, Warren “Rape As Buyer’s Remorse” Farrell…. I wondered when he would be featured again on this website. I haven’t heard of him in a while.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

I‘ve been rereading Warren Farrell’s Myth of Male Power

Is there a new edition or something? Anyway, take frequent breaks.

It would not be a big deal for most men if no one were making a big deal of the man’s response.

“It would not be a big deal that I burned down the bank if no one were making a big deal about arson.”

maybe if you live inisde a sitcom from the 1960s

Well, a lot of MRAs do sound like their “research” is watching 60s sitcoms, so maybe Warren does.

In almost all cultures throughout human history, women’s indirect initiatives were their way of signaling their desire for men to take direct initiatives.

This seems to be part of a recurring manosphere theme, complaining that women are too indirect but also wanting women to be submissive at the same time. It’s a no win situation.

Also, I want to know exactly which cultures think lipstick means “she wants to give blowjobs.” Farrell has no footnote for that fun factoid; I’m guessing it was pulled directly from his ass.

It also sounds reminiscent of the “rainbow party” moral panic of the early 2000s.

Maybe Farrell took a break from the 60s sitcoms and watched some porn instead.

Although both sexes have their own styles of humor

This can’t be right. Because MRA attempts at humor are not funny at all, but I know men who are funny.

@Airis Damon
IIRC he also compared rape of women to unemployment for men, apparently ignoring that men can be raped and women can be unemployed.

Airis Damon
Airis Damon
3 months ago

@Naglfar

@Airis Damon
IIRC he also compared rape of women to unemployment for men, apparently ignoring that men can be raped and women can be unemployed.

Great. As if he wasn’t horrible enough. That was almost as bad as another reprobate moment during a certain interview for Penthouse Magazine regarding incest.

Charming fellow in person, or so I’ve heard, but his perspectives regarding human relationships are utter radioactive garbage.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@Airis Damon
Yep, here are the quotes about how unemployment is like rape. He also manages to claim registering for a non-active draft is like rape, with a heaping dose of homophobia added. And apparently thinks rape laws are like speed limits.

As for the Penthouse thing, I recall that one as well. He’s got a weird history, seeing as at one point he was a feminist (or at least pretended to be), and was elected to the board of N.O.W. 3 times. Even then he had some very MRAish tendencies like hosting a “role reversal date” where women have 150 chances of rejection, which he claimed men face.

Charming fellow in person

That in and of itself can often be a red flag, as a lot of abusers are able to publicly present themselves as charming to throw off suspicion. He seems to fit the mold on that one.

Lainy
Lainy
3 months ago

This man really needs to chill with his lipstick fetish

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
3 months ago

In some cultures, lipstick was a woman’s way of signaling her willingness to perform fellatio. In the South Sea islands, a fresh flower in a woman’s hair signaled availability.

What is this, low grade regurgitation of Desmond Morris?

IIRC, Morris wrote in one of his books that a hibiscus flower signaled available OR taken status depending on whether it was on the right or left ear. I don’t know how accurate this is, and I also wouldn’t remember which way it was supposed to be.

weirwoodtreehugger: chief manatee

In the South Sea islands, a fresh flower in a woman’s hair signaled availability.

This like saying “people in Africa…” Which island/island chain is he referring to?

Well, a lot of MRAs do sound like their “research” is watching 60s sitcoms, so maybe Warren does.

Be fair. Sometimes MRA research is watching Sex and the City. Or more likely, reading other men’s complaints about it.

Airis Damon
Airis Damon
3 months ago

@Naglfar I learned about his past before. I believe I first learned about him from Liz’s Library. That’s where I also learned about his Penthouse interview. I even wrote about him on Medium, because I saw others, including women, trying to emulate him.

I do not go to Liz’s Library any more. The transphobia hit me too hard. It was sudden, to me, but probably not for her, the author. The author is a family lawyer. She has personally dealt with Farrell himself, Father’s Rights Activists, and MRAs. Her knowledge is impressive.

The transphobia is, again, terrible. And so I cannot go back there.

happy cat
happy cat
3 months ago

So, a flower in their hair means availability?!

I think it’s creepy because the only people I ever saw putting fresh flowers in their hair were little girls, and I guess they probably did it because it was cute. Well…

Big Titty Demon
Big Titty Demon
3 months ago

@happy_cat

Nope! Little tarts, every one.

Actually that reminds me of a book I read in the dim past, which did make the argument that child prostitution in bygone eras was only seen as an evil because of Christian morality foisted on the lumpenproletariat (this word was used) by the disgusting Christian bourgeoisie, and that everyone would have been better off if Christianity had just not polluted the West because then child sex wouldn’t be tainted by taboo and child prostitutes would be better off. I disagreed with this book on every possible level.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@WWTH

Which island/island chain is he referring to?

The island of PIDOOMA?

Sometimes MRA research is watching Sex and the City. Or more likely, reading other men’s complaints about it.

I’d guess the latter, most of them sound like they’ve never seen it. I haven’t seen it either, but at least I don’t base my world view around what I think it is.

@Big Titty Demon
That book sounds quite creepy. While Christian morality can have some very real negative effects (persecution of LGBT people, subjugation of women, etc), I would say that child sex is something which should definitely be avoided for obvious reasons.

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
3 months ago

Wearing a tie in the office signals that you’re available to provide blow jobs and make coffee, because peacocks have feathers and something something Pacific islands.

If you carry a briefcase, you must signal your manhood to your employer by diving from a wooden tower with vines attached to your ankles.

In Fiji, certain customs are tabu so DO NOT TOUCH WOMEN WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT.

Gosh, I wonder why Office Anthropology isn’t actually a thing?

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@Buttercup Q Skullpants

Gosh, I wonder why Office Anthropology isn’t actually a thing?

The 3rd floor copy machine is cursed, avoid it. To achieve increased alertness, use the coffee machine. If the computer crashes, contact IT for their rituals.

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
3 months ago

I have an anthropologist friend who actually does study the cultures of different companies.

Policy of Madness
Policy of Madness
3 months ago

As always, a misogynist is the worst misandrist. What makes him so confident that sexual harassment always and only swings in the male->female direction? In a world where nobody has recourse from sexual harassment charges, what is a man who is being harassed supposed to do? What secret signals is that man sending that invited the harassment?

Buttercup Q. Skullpants
Buttercup Q. Skullpants
3 months ago

@Moon_Custafer – Cool! But does your friend overlay ancient tribal rituals onto office culture in order to justify their pre-existing notions about rape? It’s not real anthropology otherwise./s

@Naglfar – Always leave one slice of pizza from the lunch meeting to attract prosperity and appease the gods.

(Prosperity looks like ants, by the way.)

In the South Sea islands, a fresh flower in a woman’s hair signaled availability.

Or, women in the South Seas put flowers in their hair because they want to be promoted to middle management positions. That makes about as much sense as claiming lipstick is an invitation to harassment.

otrame
otrame
3 months ago

Gosh, I wonder why Office Anthropology isn’t actually a thing?

Actually office anthropology is a thing. Most office studies are lean more to sociology, but there are studies of office culture by anthropologists.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@PoM

what is a man who is being harassed supposed to do? What secret signals is that man sending that invited the harassment?

Oh, but don’t you know it’s never a man’s fault? It must be those evil women trying to invite harassment from men by harassing them! /s

Lainy
Lainy
3 months ago

When my husband and I went to Hawaii once, we took a class that involved making flower crowns thing that the hotel offered and i thought it be fun. The teacher there told me that you do put a flower on one side of your hair to show you are single and a flower on the other side to show your taken ( not sure if that means married or just like in a relationship).
But i doubt any native Hawaiian person would take a look at me and be like “oh she got the flower on the single side of her hair. I’m going to go grope her and make sexual harassing comments” because I put it on like that

It was a lot of fun. I also learned how to weave a basket and we went on a hike to a water fall.

You know i also don’t like wearing my wedding ring on the finger you are suppose to wear it on. And if someone came up to bother me because of that it’s still their fault.

Threp (formerly Shadowplay)

So, a flower in their hair means availability?!

It did in the late sixties/early seventies … 😛

Dude really needs to update his EULA.

North Sea Sparkly Dragon (Formerly Nanny Oggs Busom)
North Sea Sparkly Dragon (Formerly Nanny Oggs Busom)
3 months ago

Has he been living in a 60s sitcom for the last thirty years? Because this sounds like it.

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
3 months ago

I, too, would like to hear the details of this lipstick thing. Maybe there was something like the handkerchief code, where the colour of your lipstick communicated what you wanted to do. It’s not like people choose those to complement their skin tone or anything.

@Policy of Madness

In a world where nobody has recourse from sexual harassment charges, what is a man who is being harassed supposed to do? What secret signals is that man sending that invited the harassment?

I presume this isn’t supposed to be an issue, since it’s only sexual harassment if it’s done by someone you don’t find sexually attractive, and men find all women sexually attractive, since attractive women are the only women that exist. /s

@Buttercup Q. Skullpants

@Naglfar – Always leave one slice of pizza from the lunch meeting to attract prosperity and appease the gods.

When you have decked out your new office space, order copious amounts of cake to be shared with the neighbouring tribes so that they look kindly at your territorial conquest.

(I once worked in a project where we had to move the whole operation to a new building, inconveniencing those who already worked there. The amount of cake at our housewarming party was epic for a project that only had some 10 workers.)

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@Masse_mysteria

Maybe there was something like the handkerchief code, where the colour of your lipstick communicated what you wanted to do.

As obviously made up as Farrell’s thing is, I do think a lipstick code could maybe be used in BDSM and sex spaces. Since AFAIK the hanky code has mostly been used by men, maybe this could be an equivalent for women/femmes. Obviously this would only apply in those spaces and not in the office, but I see how it could potentially work. Though one of the aspects of the hanky code is that one can wear a handkerchief on one side to show being a top/dom and on the other side to indicate being a bottom/sub, but it looks odd if you only wear lipstick on one side. And wearing multiple colors of lipstick at once is hard if not impossible.

Victorious Parasol
Victorious Parasol
3 months ago

Once again, I find myself wondering if this man has ever met a woman, or only just watched a lot of late-night TV/movies.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

O/T: It appears some incels are calling each other out for being creepy assholes. Granted, he does still use ableist slurs and cares more about perception, but it’s a step.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

Also O/T: JK Rowling has literally declared that the lurkers support her in email:
https://twitter.com/jk_rowling/status/1287015244745920513

Bastethotep
Bastethotep
3 months ago

So women in miniskirts are good girls longing to be swept up by Prince Charming and become good little traditional housewives and mothers now? But I thought they were nasty feminazi slutty whores who need no man and only want to ride the Cock Carousel? Can’t these sexist idiots at least keep their stupid stereotypes consisten-
Er, I mean, silly females, they’re totally crazy and irrational, their pretty little heads don’t know what they want!

Let us, for the sake of argument, assume that miniskirts and make-up do indeed signal availability. Clearly, this is a general, non-specific, non-committal signal. It should go without saying that rejecting your advances overrules this signaling, being more specific and definitive. Especially when that’s the response you’ve been getting consistently all the previous times you tried.

Prith kDar
Prith kDar
3 months ago

Jordass Peterboy made the same “point” about lipstick and makeup and heels. It didn’t sound any more rational coming out of his mouth. Did he get the idea from Farrell or did Farrell get it from him?

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@Prith kDar
I’d guess Peteyboy got it from Farrell, as Lobsterboy published his first book in 1999, 6 years after the first edition of Farrell’s The Myth of Male Power.

Snowberry
Snowberry
3 months ago

The “hanky code” was never entirely consistent. It was worse before the internet. You had to learn the local variant. And then you had to deal with the risk of the occasional people who wear or leave a hanky sticking out but have no idea it means anything. Or the risk that the people who gave you the local variant weren’t mistaken or trolling.

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

[S]exual harassment lawsuits are just the latest version of the female selection process—allowing her to select for men who care enough for her to put their career at risk; who have enough finesse to initiate without becoming a jerk and enough guts to initiate despite a potential lawsuit. During this process, she gets a sense of his trustworthiness, his commitment, his ability to overcome barriers, the way he handles rejection.

So true. If I really, really like a guy, I file a sexual harassment lawsuit against him. If he still sends me flowers, I know he still likes me. A guy who isn’t strong enough to laugh off a sexual harassment lawsuit just isn’t enough of a man for me.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@Snowberry
It also requires some very specific colors of handkerchiefs, with minor variations in color meaning totally different things. I imagine this makes life difficult for colorblind BDSM enthusiasts.

Amtep
Amtep
3 months ago

@Naglfar
On the other hand, “Excuse me, I’m colorblind, what color is your handkerchief?” makes a great icebreaker.

Lukas Xavier
Lukas Xavier
3 months ago

But, he thinks, it sends out the wrong sort of signals to men, who see a woman in a miniskirt and think “there’s a woman who wants to get married and quit work.”

Sounds like a problem with the men, to me. If you conclude anything other than “nice legs”, you’re speculating beyond the data.

Drungarios
Drungarios
3 months ago

Does anyone even still wear miniskirts in the office? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in my professional life.

Moon Custafer
Moon Custafer
3 months ago

@Snowberry, @Naglfar:

I once read a late-‘50s/early-‘60s “expose of homosexual life” novel in which the local code involves specific drink orders, and the narrator discovers after the fact that that handsome guy didn’t approach him at random, he’d inadvertently propositioned him first. Fortunately the narrator enjoyed the encounter; and also the guy he’d slept with was the owner of the bar and locally powerful, so having pleased him, narrator was under his protection and no one would dare mug or blackmail him.

Masse_Mysteria
Masse_Mysteria
3 months ago

@Amtep

@Naglfar
On the other hand, “Excuse me, I’m colorblind, what color is your handkerchief?” makes a great icebreaker.

Mention of colourblindness may be optional. I once had a colourblind classmate, and since that didn’t come up very often, we sometimes enjoyed some absurdity when he pointed at something and asked “What colour is that?”

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@Masse_mysteria
I am not colorblind, but my grandfather is, so when I would play Trivial Pursuit with my family growing up he always had to ask what color the cards were.

The discussion of hanky codes is reminding me of an episode (TW discussion of sex) of The Violet Wanderers where they played a game about it and discussed the possible pitfalls of colorblindness with regards to it.

Beyond Ocean
Beyond Ocean
3 months ago

[S]exual harassment lawsuits are just the latest version of the female selection process—allowing her to select for men who care enough for her to put their career at risk; who have enough finesse to initiate without becoming a jerk and enough guts to initiate despite a potential lawsuit. During this process, she gets a sense of his trustworthiness, his commitment, his ability to overcome barriers, the way he handles rejection.

I find myself wondering if all of this elaborate “what she actually means when she wants nothing to do with you” code, that had been pretty much ingrained into modern culture since long ago, was simply created by and for proto-incels to protect their ego.

Ohlmann
Ohlmann
3 months ago

@Beyond Ocean : sort of ? It originate in privilege, like male nobles being able to coerce sex from any commoner under their charges, and incels are basically people that think they are privilegied but actually aren’t.

But then, until recent time it wasn’t to protect the ego of the males. It was more a consequence of impunity.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
3 months ago

A Republican called AOC a “f-ing b-word” on the Capitol steps and later delivered a notpology on the house floor. AOC was having none of it.

Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
Weird (and tired of trumplings) Eddie
3 months ago

In many Western cultures, peeing on the boss’ desk signals a desire to be unemployed….

Also, this is good

https://www.thecut.com/2020/07/aoc-speech-ted-yoho-new-york-times.html?fbclid=IwAR1mGzotP_HpY8z__BjGkz0ij3n2WExTXNyktCgeqbhFOWUn1F9yeT3BnLo

Moggie
Moggie
3 months ago

@Drungarios:

Does anyone even still wear miniskirts in the office? I don’t think I’ve ever seen one in my professional life.

I guess it might vary by business sector, but I can think of only two, maybe three co-workers who wore them, and that’s going back to the 80s.

Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
Surplus to Requirements, Observer of the Vast Blight-Wing Enstupidation
3 months ago

An interesting take on bigotry. Don’t know how much water it holds. My guess would be “it’s a contributing factor, but not the only one” just because so many things are that way.

https://eand.co/why-america-is-so-hateful-4ef03915e156?source=your_stories_page—————————&gi=84e5ee3352b3

(Note: that site likes to try to impose silly restrictions on articles read per month and such. It’s easy to circumvent this nonsense by right clicking and opening links to it in an incognito window.)

Snowberry
Snowberry
3 months ago

@Surplus to Requirements: I wasn’t aware you could do things like that. I’ve been circumventing that “nonsense” on other sites with “select all / copy / paste”. It doesn’t copy the pictures (or the ads), but otherwise that works too.

Naglfar
Naglfar
3 months ago

@Surplus
It also often works to check the Internet Archive. For older articles it’s often already there without the paywall, and for newer ones it’s easy to archive them.

As for the article, I do think projection is a major part of the conservative world view. In addition to bigotry, I also think it leads to a lot of their attack strategies. For instance, how they call people on the left “snowflakes” but then melt down about having to wear a mask or having their ideas challenged.

And the article is right that conservatives generally have no sense of humor, hence their singular joke and their inability to make memes.

Katherine the Adequate
Katherine the Adequate
3 months ago

WTF is “flirting unconsciously”? Sounds like a delusion that creepos have that has no bearing on reality. They use it to justify their behavior. Sounds like a place where I worked in the midwest a few years ago where an alcoholic pos kept hitting on me. He was charming and good buddies with the boss, so it was my word against his. I found another job.

P.S., we all wore uniforms, so there were no chances to wear “miniskirts” for anyone. And the guy had BO that would knock out an elephant. I wore no perfume, but I often had to hold my breath if I was within a few feet of him. Fun times.

Podkayne Lives
Podkayne Lives
2 months ago

The lipstick thing has been around for a while–I keep finding people claiming that Sumerian sex workers, or Roman sex workers, or Victorian sex workers (it moves around) painted their lips specifically to indicate the availability of fellatio.

I have NEVER seen a source to back this up, and I find it improbable for various reasons. (Not least being that Roman brothels, at least, told you exactly what was available, and what you’d pay for it, and painted all the options and prices on the wall for easy reference.)

Robert
Robert
2 months ago

I remember a hanky code moment from the 1980s. I was meeting some college friends for the San Francisco Pride Parade, and a mutual acquaintance stopped by to say hello. As he departed, I noticed the purple bandana in his right rear jeans pocket.

Not recognizing the code, I asked one of my friends for illumination. ‘It matches his polo shirt, ‘ he replied acerbically.

Lumipuna
Lumipuna
2 months ago

The lipstick thing has been around for a while–I keep finding people claiming that Sumerian sex workers, or Roman sex workers, or Victorian sex workers (it moves around) painted their lips specifically to indicate the availability of fellatio.

Sex worker at least sounds plausible, as opposed to generic “women”. I mean, how often do women usually need to specifically advertise blowjobs?

Warrell seems to be scraping up alleged evidence for the notion that sexual “hanky codes” have been a common thing for women across various cultures, therefore… something.

How is this relevant for people whose culture treats women’s lipstick and flower hairpieces as simple decoration? Warrell asserts:

In almost all cultures throughout human history, women’s indirect initiatives were their way of signaling their desire for men to take direct initiatives.

The purpose of the flower, lipstick, or the miniskirt is to put the signal out strongly enough to stimulate every man’s interest. It is only when she has every man’s interest that she has real choice—the choice of the “best” men.

Sounds somewhat plausible again. But then again, our common desire to “look good” isn’t remotely limited to partner seeking situations, or people who are open to dating. It’s not limited to just women either.

AFAIK in “almost all cultures” when men approach women, they’re expected to be courteous to some standard and to take no for an answer (and maybe only propose her through her parents, or somesuch). This isn’t just a modern feminist invention. And even if it was, why would be bad just because it’s historically unusual?