Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The catch 22 of the compliment

[Content note: misogyny, harassment]

A couple weeks ago I reblogged a post on Tumblr where a young woman, Gweneth Bateman, conducted a social experiment. She agreed with the guys who sent her compliments online, because if she didn't reply, the men were rude.

The results were simultaneously disturbing and not surprising...dudes who went from calling her "amazing" and "cute" went to cold or outright mean when she agreed with them. I caught it when it only had maybe around 1,000 notes but it took off, other women added their similar results, and it was even featured on BuzzFeed.

When I added my commentary I said,
So much of society is oriented toward validating expressions of low self esteem in women. (Think how common negative self talk is.) Beyond that, we are supposed to chase and value any "compliment" that men throw our way.
Hence the ever present response to complaints about street harassment, "Just take the compliment."
So therefore when we disarm the perceived power they feel they have over us, we’re bitches.
I've been thinking about this more and more and I can't shake it from my brain.

Is there really any way to win when random dudes (who you are not reciprocating interested in) compliment you? Lots of people on the BuzzFeed article said that these women should just say a simple "Thank you" but I think that's not really a solution either. How many women have been accused of leading someone on because they were just trying to be "nice?" All I can think is that unwanted compliments are kinda a catch 22...we don't reply we're a BITCH, we agree we're a BITCH. If you play nice, he'll later accuse you of leading him on and you're, guess what, a BITCH.

It's annoying. And tiring. It also reminds me how dangerous it is to create your self of self-worth from external sources in general...because if you agree, the rug will suddenly be ripped out from under you.

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