Women who feel threatened by compliments from male strangers.
I will never be able to fully wrap my mind around that concept, because it suggests that some women are so terrified of men that even when they’re going out of their way to be positive towards you and make you feel good, you take it…
when i was growing up, i only received either backhanded compliments from (primarily male) bullies, or creepy ones from (entirely male) paedophiles. it’s kinda conditioned me to be unsettled by compliments, especially from men. i know in most cases they’re supposed to be flattering, and it’s silly that i react so weirdly but my brain associates them with negative things.
i’m pretty certain this doesn’t apply to most people, though, but this is just my input on the matter.
It’s really up to the person. I know plenty of confident women who will just smile and say ‘thank you’ when complimented sincerely. That’s how it SHOULD be. Without fear. But unfortunately, it’s not. Mostly because men tend to flatter/catcall in order to degrade/hit on/etc. I’ll be walking with a few female mates through a city and they always get catcalls. It doesn’t even matter, usually, what my female mates look like either: the fact they’re female often renders them subject to such idiocy.
These experiences, which seem to be the norm, especially in larger cities in America, would definitely arouse suspicion within a woman if a man compliments her. I usually find myself adding, “In a platonic, non-flirty way, I just want to say you look really nice today.” It sucks that I have to do that when my tone and body language should be indicative, but I do.
Sometimes this happens to men as well. Especially, if we’re in a relationship. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t find it very common for a girl to tell me I’m handsome, etc, without it being flirty/a pick up line, etc. Unless the girl happens to be a friend of mine, someone with whom the respect the mutual, usually when a girl compliments my appearance, it’s with all the indicative body language, batting of eyelashes, certain ways of smiling, the sway of the hips, and other signs and it’s flustering. The more annoying thing is when girls continue to do this after I’ve informed them that I’m currently in a loving relationship with someone else and am not interested.
However, I really hate it when you compliment someone and they counteract it with, “Oh, I don’t think so, I’m so ugly,” blah blah blah. Then I’m like, “Fine. You’re ugly.” Just… accept the compliment. A small ‘thank you’ will suffice and move on. That’s all it takes.
Honestly, just to be on the safe side, I still add, “In a platonic, non-flirty way” to all my compliments to women, because… I mean that. I want myself to be understood. I want the woman to know that I am NOT hitting on her or exploiting her or trying to degrade her but that I honestly think her hair really looks nice, especially the way it catches the sun. Or perhaps her dress is really elegant and she kinda looks like some sort of goddess or queen or something, I dunno. I’m detail-oriented so I pay a lot of attention to my surroundings, to what people wear, how they walk, their body language. But I’d never call out to a woman across the street and go, “Hey honey! BABY GIRL… why not come on over here, huh? Why not show me a little somethin’ somethin’” or whatever the fuck it is those chauvinistic, horndogs say. That just doesn’t come across as very polite or respectful.
Growing up in the lowest of low class neighborhoods in Texas, you kind of learn that any male who tosses a compliment at you is a threat. They (here) expect you to stop, like you owe them something because they spoke to you. And a lot of the time, they aren’t real compliments. They’re things like “damn, yella, lemme holla at you for a minute” or “say, lil mama, was good”. When they are real compliments the conversation goes like this, “Hey, you look good” and I say thanks, then they reply with “so, you can’t stop and speak?” This is usually when I tell them I’m in a relationship and they give me something alone the lines of “I’m not worried about him” or “he ain’t got to know”. I have been groped in broad daylight. I have been followed. I have had guys try to challenge my boyfriend when I’m with him in public. I have had guys screaming insults at me while I was walking, all because I wouldn’t give them the time of day. I have had men whistle at/catcall/honk at/insult me while I was with my boyfriend.
This is why it is seen as a threat when guys “compliment” us. Because it is rude. We don’t want your advances. If we do not know you, why is it necessary to give a “platonic, non flirty” compliment. If you think we look nice, acknowledge it silently or to your friends. If we are not flirting with you, don’t flirt with us. When our body language clearly screams “leave me the hell alone”, you do just that. If a lady’s eyes are on the ground when she walks by you, it means NOT INTERESTED. If she has a book or headphones in or is showing off the ring on her left finger, it means back off. Simple as that. This is the reason it’s scary when men compliment us. Because often, once they’ve whined and complained about how all women think they’re flirting, they didn’t pay attention to her body language. Or they did and just didn’t give a damn.
I hope this is enough explanation. Call bullshit if you like. I don’t really care. But you can’t claim it’s some problem with women. It’s a male problem. You see, if you just leave women alone until they flirt with you or their body language says they’re open to your advances, we wouldn’t have these problems. But men need to understand that it isn’t their “divine right” to stare, catcall, whistle, or any of that crap. Just leave us the hell alone.
Ooohhh I have to agree on the body language thing. I’m fine with being complimented, and NORMAL compliments on my appearance come to me from men and women equally. But most ‘compliments’ I get from men are demands and catcalls, and like you said, if you don’t stop, they insult you.
But body language. I lament a lot about how LITTLE it means to people, these days. It expresses so much, and people have seemed to have forgotten about how to read or use it. I use it and I use it well, but people don’t HEED. If I am open to approach in a friendly manner, I walk normally, with my head up and my eyes forward, or on whatever interests me, like a building or a person or whatever. But if someone approaching gives off the wrong vibe, I turn my head away. I don’t tend to lower my eyes because I.. it’s a dominance thing.
If I’m sitting somewhere and someone is trying to talk too much to me, I subtly turn my body at an angle away from theirs, only reply in short one or two word phrases that rapidly diminish, and don’t make eye contact. WHHHHYYY can’t some people read disinterest. Don’t get me wrong, I usually engage strangers, and I’m friendly, but I don’t like to talk about nothing and I don’t like to talk too much. Silence is golden.
I think body language should play a role in how everyone interacts, and thus also men and women, or any pair of gendered people possibly interested in each other. For instance, if I am walking around and a man sees me, he does not know I am available. He can compliment me politely, and I will thank him. The more understandable thing for him to do, if he is interested in me and since he cannot see a ring (as I am not yet engaged) is to keep his posture open and see if I keep walking, or if I stop to talk to him because of the compliment.
If I keep walking, that’s it. It’s over. I’m not interested.
Compliment a guy. He’ll either say “thank you,” or he’ll compliment you back. If he ignores you, calls you creepy or otherwise acts like it was anything but a nice thing to say, you and everyone else will rightly assume that he is an asshole. If he explains that it was because he assumed (at first glance) that you were a violent criminal, would that make him less of an asshole or more of one?
I don’t think I understand your logic so I’m going to attempt to explain how I feel about this: You give the situation of complimenting a guy, and the guy saying thank you. That’s cool, that’s what I do when a anyone compliments me, no matter who they are, as long as the compliment is appropriate.
If the guy ignored me, then whatever, that’s his deal, maybe he’s a jerk, maybe he’s uncomfortable and he clammed up. But here’s the thing about the whole: assuming he’s a violent criminal analogy:
It doesn’t jive at all because a) I don’t assume a guy will assault or rape me if he compliments me. He may just hound me. He may just say something unnecessarily lewd. He may grab his balls in my presence and look me up and down like a piece of meat. He may JUST do that, and WE DON’T LIKE IT.
b) More women ARE victims of sexual assault than men. I never like to say men aren’t because I hate misandry, but I kind of feel like you don’t at all understand or comprehend the fact that a sexually aggressive man is, by SOME percentage, a threat to a woman. Some part of our brain is dedicated to assuming where an encounter will go.
But whatever, please don’t use hyperbole. Compliments are not the same as catcalls, and fear of sexual assault isn’t the only reason a woman may avoid a man’s advances.
Sometimes we’re not interested, and men need to understand that that matters.
For what it’s worth, I compliment men because sometimes they look good and I think we as a society put the onus of compliments on men. It’s gone a bit awry.
First, the concept of an anti-feminist woman makes about as much sense to me as a homophobic gay person. But anyway.
I don’t get creeped out every time any man pays me a compliment, even if he’s a stranger. But there’s a difference between a genuine compliment, and a comment that’s clearly meant to objectify, intimidate, isolate, or otherwise harass a woman. A lot of it has to do with the level of respect. “HEY BABY, NICE TITS!” is not respectful. “Hey, your hair is a really nice color” is. Also, how you use your body says more than words. Standing with a group of other guys and shouting is intimidating, partly because it’s a whole group of guys (outnumbered) and partly because it’s shouting (which some people are intimidated by in general). The extra volume can be jarring and imparts a desire to intrude on one’s privacy in a way that a normal speaking voice doesn’t. If you’re just too far away to say something in a normal, polite speaking voice, then just let the moment for the compliment pass. Finally, once you pay the genuine compliment, don’t hover or expect anything beyond (at most) a “thank you”. Just be happy that you said something nice to someone, and let that be its own reward. If the woman (or whoever) keeps walking, don’t say shit like “Hey! I was complimenting you, bitch!” and for fuck’s sake, don’t follow her. She doesn’t owe you anything.
So, in short, all those experiences I had growing up in the midwest where some loud, possibly drunken rednecks in a beat-up pickup truck with glasspaks sped by yelling “HEY BABY!” to my skinny, tomboyish, twelve-year-old self? Not compliments. But they did have a profoundly negative effect on how safe I felt, because they were startling and because I never knew whether they’d turn back around and give me more unwanted attention and I’d have to start running across people’s yards or into a storefront to get away from them.