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Compliment or insult? You be the judge.

Warning, this is another post like the one I wrote about Fetish parties – WHY I FEEL SAFER IN A FETISH CLUB THAN A BAR or the one about ghosting – GHOST STORIES THIS HALLOWEEN.

You have been warned.

From code of ethics to negging

The other day, at work, it was time for our annual ethics online training. It covered the usual things, you know. How to be more inclusive, how to be an ally, and how to be more respectful of your own colleagues. It also covered what you should and what you should not say to a colleague, with particular emphasis on conversations between opposite sexes. 

While doing it, a few things crossed my mind. It made me think of all the pleasant and not so pleasant conversations I had in my life, both at work and outside. In comparison to conversations I had in bars or on London buses, I have to admit that the percentage of unpleasant conversations in the workplace is very small. I see a correlation there, do you? What if everyone, EVERYWHERE, had to pass an ethics online training? And do it annually? I believe we would be better human being. Albeit slightly.  

In my life, have received many comments from strangers. Most of the comments came to me from male counterparties while I was out and about, minding my own businesses. A lot of these comments were intended as ‘compliments’. Yeah, ‘compliments’. And no, I am not bragging. Hear me out.

Here are some things I have been told; click on each comment to read my very own interpretation:

"Hey! Smile! You are prettier when you smile."

I only exist for your enjoyment, and therefore I should blindly obey you.

"You are not like other girls."

You have such low regard and respect for women in general, I should feel privileged you are making an exception for me.

"You are quite tall, although very pretty."

How dare I being taller than my male counterparty? Society should have taught me better.

"You look absolutely great! If you just lost some weight/got a nose job, you’d be perfect."

I currently do not match your exact beauty standards, but I should try harder so I can be more pleasing to your gaze.

"I like you because you have a more natural look, and wear less make up than other girls."

I currently do match your beauty standards, but you think less of women who are not ‘naturally’ pretty.

Last two are examples of ‘negging’, a form of emotional manipulation. It’s when a person makes a back-ended compliment aimed at undermining the other person’s confidence, while making themselves feel superior. Although packaged as polite, it’s very disrespectful, and it’s often present in toxic or superficial relationships. Urban Dictionary definition here

What do you think of these ‘compliments’? I personally didn’t feel like they were genuinely complimenting. With a little effort and some thought, they could have been done better, but stupidity, ignorance, and misogyny never ceased to surprise me.

Next I present you: simple conversations

As well as ‘compliments’, I have also been insulted by the same male counterparties. I might add, in very misogynistic and (not very) creative ways. Let’s take a look at the most common:

In response to my simple ‘it’s not funny‘ as a retort to their gross comment/harassment ⇒ Learn to take a joke/grow a sense of humor. 

I just said ‘no‘ to somethingYou are acting crazy, must be your time of the month.

I viewed a message and didn’t respond right awayHey hello? why are you ignoring me??

I declined their interestYou are fat/ugly/not my type anyway, you were lucky to have a man’s attention at all.

I declined their interest, but there are other people present I am a nice guy, why can’t you be nice?

When I don’t thank them after they paid me a compliment Why you being rude?

When I don’t live up to the version of me they made up in their own headWhat is wrong with you?

If I wanted to have sex, but wasn’t interested in seeing them againSlut.

If I don’t want to have sex, but was interested in seeing them againWhy do I always get friend-zoned? / You are such a prude. / Stop playing hard to get. / Are you playing mind-games? (and btw, it sucks to always be ‘fuck-zoned’, it’s like our friendship has value only based on your chances of sleeping with me)

If I have expressed how I feel towards them, and they do not reciprocateYou are so clingy. (and btw, you are not too much, they are just not enough)

BONUS CONTENT: In answer to an ad on marketplace about a dress I’m selling (you can’t see my face) I love your style. You are breath taking, I so love this dress on you. I got so excited I had to push my finger in my ass deep and vibrate my finger.

Ew. Just EW.

Such enlightening conversations, uh? That’s because since DAY 1 society taught us that men and women are different. That boys will be boys while girls should know their place.

Society taught us that women with the same morals of a man are whores. That women who act like men in the workplace are ‘bossy‘. That a woman who isn’t ashamed of expressing her own opinion, without sugarcoating, is ‘loud‘ (or a bitch, depending on the levels of misogyny in the room). Taught us that women who doesn’t seek a man’s approval are shameless, and those who are empowered are intimidating. It’s not easy to navigate a world where rules are different depending on the number of Xs in your chromosome. 

What is Catcalling?

Crash-course in catcalling: it’s ok to say hello to a woman, but if you say ‘hey baby why don’t you give me a smile’ then you are an asshole. You can say ‘hi you look nice’ but saying ‘hey baby, nice ass, you got a boyfriend/girlfriend?’ that makes you a creep and overall a rather pathetic human being. 

Catcalling it’s considered sexual harassment: it’s threatening, terrifying, and unwanted. It invades someone’s personal space. It makes women feel objectified, unsafe, self conscious, dehumanised, and frightened.

Basically no one needs that sort of input. If your compliment is making someone feel uncomfortable, scared, anxious, annoyed, harassed, unsafe, you are probably not doing them right. Need a second opinion? Urban Dictionary here.

But is there a better way?

I feel like I have showcased what is NOT a compliment. But what about if you want to pay someone a compliment and are not sure how? Here is, in my opinion, how to pay a compliment in three easy steps:

  1. Make sure you have no expectations. No one is against compliments, but no one likes to be forced to listen and have to respond to them. If you want to pay a compliment because you are expecting something in return, you are not doing the compliment thing for the right reasons. Remember that no one is entitled to a response, a thank you, a smile, eye contact, a DM, or anything at all. GOOD DEEDS should be done without expecting anything back.
  2. Pick the right time and place. You saw someone you like and wanna say something. Ask yourself: does it feel like you both are in the right place physically/mentally/digitally? Are you being intrusive or maybe inappropriate? Is it the middle of the night in a dark alley? Are you outside a lingerie shop window? Are they simply selling a dress on marketplace? Think before approaching someone, picking the right time and place can make a huge difference.
  3. Rethink what you see as a compliment. If you want to flirt, try to be authentic and specific. My advice is to avoid cheesy lines so that it doesn’t come off as creepy. People value honesty more than you think, try to be candid. And if it doesn’t work, it’s not meant to be; remember you deserve to be with someone who feels the same way about you. Don’t settle for anything less.

That’s all for today, I hope it all made sense, and I hope you give and receive nice compliments that make you feel good about yourself in the future.