Column: Just say no or yes to hickeys

A guy on my hall today was strutting around unabashedly with a red and purple infused hickey on his lower neck. Below the hickey was a colorful V-neck sweater from Abercrombie and Fitch. No scarf, no foundation, no turtleneck. As I stared at what could have been a cancerous lesion, he remarked, "I had a great night." Good to know.

I chatted with a girl about the obtrusive mark of sexual passion. She said, "I can't believe he's not doing anything about it. I would never do that. At least wear a freakin' scarf." Preferably not a red and purple scarf.

Do girls have a tendency to hide hickeys more than guys do? True, girls seem to possess more of the instruments necessary for quick concealment. A touch of foundation, a classic argyle sweater wrapped chicly around the neck or Armani's latest line of turtleneck sweaters perfect for nippy weather. Boys on the other hand often lack the proper accouterments, but is that any excuse? Or is there something wrong with the fact girls often hide signs of physical enjoyment, while boys can overtly exhibit red marks?

The concealment of hickeys is just one symptom of the sexual repression women typically have to endure because of the attribution of gender traits. Women have to hide their hickeys, lest they be subject to scrutiny as a possible slut. Guys can sport them like new cars, jumping at the opportunity to tell their story. Of course this isn't true for all guys and girls on campus, but for a large part of campus, hickeys create a dichotomy of pride and shame.

This pride and shame permeates most sexual activity. When was the last time a guy performed the "walk of shame" back to section? Who was the last girl admired for her ability to "play" guys every weekend? A guy's "walk" is a walk of prowess. Girls are hos, not playas. These roles are so ingrained that even something as insignificant as a bruise on one's neck is cause for sentence by the People's Court of the Duke student body.

Surprisingly, guys aren't the only ones to blame for this system. Girls revel in gossip over hickeys and other love bites. Who's getting action and who's not is often the first topic of conversation in many social circles, irrespective of gender. Hickeys are a surefire indication of funky behavior the night before. More so, hickeys have become the post-modern scarlet letter for many girls, but rarely for most guys. Hickeys may be unsightly, but they should not be a source of stigma.

Maybe I'm reading too much into amorous love bites resulting in bruised skin. Maybe they are just unsightly marks that make some people uncomfortable because they are so intrinsically linked to sexual activity. I can imagine it would not be too pleasant staring at a hickey on your professor's neck, forced to contemplate what he or she was doing the night before. Is this same displeasure created by hickeys on your friends, your hall mates, your roommate? If this is the case, then perhaps girls are acting properly by concealing their hickeys, and guys are just remiss.

Or maybe girls ought to be able to strut around with their hickeys in the same manner that guys do, with V-neck and all. Nevertheless, there is something inconsistent with hickeys. Until this is figured out, to get rid of hickey, try applying ice or a refrigerated teaspoon. You can also try making a bruise compress, thanks to Kathi Keville, author of Herbs for Health and Healing:

1 tablespoon tincture of arnica.

St. John's Wort flowering tops.

Witch hazel bark or chamomile flowers.

4 drops of lavender essential oil.

2 tablespoons of cold water.

Soak a washcloth in the liquid, wring it out and place it directly on your hickey. Or you can just allow the hickey to heal naturally and bask in your own sexual glory.


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