Sex and the University: The hickey: ‘gross’ problem or ‘badge of honor’?
Published: Tuesday, March 12, 2013
Updated: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 00:03
The issue of the hickey started circling around in high school, when I saw one of my friends carefully pulling up the collar of her shirt over a huge red mark on her neck. She told me loudly that hickies were “super gross,” but I saw her poking at it with a measure of pride later. Hickies, to any sort of student, are part of a conflicting, confusing system.
The hickey in and of itself was seen as being disgusting and archaic (with the sense of claiming that went along with it), but was also a way to broadcast to people that you were actually sexually active and therefore you are an attractive person to be immediately approached.
“I don’t try to give them, but it happens,” one student told me thoughtfully, “but if I saw a girl in class with one I’d be like, why didn’t you cover that up? Put some makeup on that.” She then added that proof of a love-bite was like a “badge of honor.”
It’s interesting that, despite being something to be proud over, it has to be hidden away. If hickies display to everyone your raw sexuality, and the discussion of sex is - or should be - “no big deal” (as Tessa O’Leary, a junior, explained to me), then why does it need to be concealed? They seem to be purely by accident, and yet there is a need to layer foundation on top of it so that it will not be glimpsed by anyone you associate with.
However, a male student I asked denied the possible attractiveness of a love-bite—where they could be seen, at least. He declared that he was not opposed to them, unless they were on a visible spot on his neck because “that’s trashy. I don’t need to know what’s going on in some stranger’s love life, and I don’t really want anyone I walk by to know what’s happening in mine.”
There is, unfortunately, a degree of privacy that is not guaranteed when you have a visible hickey. I’m sure most have you have gone through the rigmarole of being slightly humiliated by your jeering friends, or a mortifying trial where your parents stared fixedly at it and made pointed comments about maybe “taking it a little slower.”
The social stigma behind love-bites is a simple case of making a mountain out of a mole hill; they’re truly not as big of a deal as they are painted.
Lulu Benjamin, a junior, commented that while she never gave them herself, she was not opposed to receiving them. “It hints at your craziness in bed. It shows that someone felt passionate and horny enough to want to gnaw on your neck, and then you see it and remember the moment fondly.”