Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Ponderation: Compliments, Creepers and the Fuzzy Line Between Them These Days

I'm writing this down because I tried to tweet it and it was going to be too long.

I honestly feel badly for men who are stymied into silence because they think a woman will take a compliment badly.

From time to time, I'll suggest to people that they compliment a stranger as an act of kindness during the day and, more and more, I get replies from my male followers telling me that they don't know how to because they worry what the reaction will be.

Which baffles and saddens me on a human level.

People enjoy compliments, both giving and getting, and there's something nice about a quick kind word said in passing that lightens a mood like nothing else.

But now we live in a world in which some people are afraid to say anything because they think anything they say will be taken as creepy or lascivious or rude or leering or sexual.

Something as simple as "That's a cool shirt." can be misconstrued.

I've tried to explain to them that I listen to the words and the tone behind them when people speak to me. If I guy says "That's a great shirt" while pointedly staring at my cleavage and not bothering to look at me, it's different from a guy pointing to my shirt or smiling and saying "That's a great shirt!". But they still worry and that feels like a lot of parsing for a passing word.

I just...how did we get here? And don't women take some responsibility for their reactions (or over reactions?) Is this on men? Do they need to chill out and stop worrying?

Personally, I feel like someone needs to say "Sometimes a compliment really is just a compliment." and ask people to take a step back and chill.

I honestly don't know, so I ask.

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