After a steamy encounter left her neck bruised, Dickinson College student Stephanie Czmar tried donning turtlenecks and scarves to cover the hickeys. But when the weather turned warm, she decided to go bare.
“I don’t know why I thought that people cared what was happening on my neck,” Czmar wrote in the student newspaper. “I have no professional position on campus, so I have no one to impress. I’m not relevant to most people, so I doubt most people looked at me twice. But I cared about people seeing them anyway.”
Then it dawned on her: She felt self-conscious because society places a “stigma” on hickeys—and more generally, on women perceived to be promiscuous. When women cover up their hickeys, they’re actually suffering from “a self-inflicted sexual repression,” she concluded.
“I felt that if I walk around campus with hickeys I could potentially be labeled a slut,” Czmar wrote. “There is a lot of pressure on women to avoid the label of slut. Slut is associated with the word dirty, and it is used to make women feel ashamed of their sexuality.”
Fortunately for women everywhere, Czmar has pondered not only the societal stigmas around hickeys but also a solution. “The best way to combat this internalized sexism is through educating women on their rights and the modes of which society as instill [sic] sexist ideals into their own ideology.”