I came across this article: Why Girls Cant Take a Compliment a while ago and it got me thinking about myself and my inability to take compliments in general (my brain refuses to accept “nice” things), perhaps I am not sure people actually mean “nice” things when they say them and there is some kind of hidden meaning but in this post I will mainly deal with “sexual” compliments. The other day someone I work with came up to me and used this phrase: “You have bulged!” while staring at my hips. I am sure in his mind, this should have flattered me but in my mind I felt: “If I could gouge the eyes out of your head and make you swallow them, I would.” but I just smiled, mumbled something, came back to my desk and took of my heels and spent the rest of the day in flat pumps. Here’s the thing, I wasn’t dressed remarkably and I definitely was not “fishing” for compliments. I knew I looked OK but I was not by any means “dressed up”. I’m on the pill and its added some weight in very “womanly” places that complement me even though I grimace every time I see my tummy and swear I will never eat bread again coz it bloats me but I digress… Being told I was “bulging” no matter how well meaning did not flatter me and reminded me of that article above.
Its not been easy for me to be comfortable in my body, the usual teenage issues that translated to adult inadequacies, very little new there but I want to talk about how much “weight” (see what I did there? no? never mind then) we give to female “virtues.” There is so much value placed on how the rest of the world sees you rather than on how you see yourself. I don’t think I can recall my mother or any formidable adult female (or male) telling me that what I thought of myself mattered (except when my older sister was trying to push a rebellion on me and I feared disciplinary measures way more than I yearned for “cool points”), so some of my earliest foundations were: you only matter by how much other people value you and as a girl that will be valued by how short your sexual history is and how long your skirts are. That’s it. Look nice, be nice and all will be good, in fact if you could play stupid and just grin all the time, that would be fabulous.
Other people’s perception of a female’s sexual prowess, whether validated or not is going to be the only thing that matters. For instance, the other day on the radio, a woman was seeking “advice” on her domestic situation. She’s been “married” to this guy for at least two years (I caught the show in the middle so I don’t know exactly how long) and he regularly beats her. In 2013, he beat her while she was pregnant so badly that she lost her baby… after that, BOTH her family and his believed they would still be better off together, she is pregnant again now and doesnt want to lose this baby. And you know what the majority of comments were, “are you sure you are married?” (and other variations on establishing that she was indeed “recognized” by him and his family), “you need him because you wont be able to support a baby by yourself,” and then chastising her on not following up with the police when the police failed to provide any remedy to her after she filed initial reports (I think three different policemen called in with procedures on what happens in such cases and it was her fault why no traction had been made on her case). The dude is on the run and boasts that beating his women is what he does and there is no way the police can ever catch him. Of all the callers I heard, only one (the only woman) actually provided her with concrete other parties she could consult with for options and a method to escalate her case. Only one man told her to leave this fella coz she could die and I am thinking, “wait… how is it that she comes on radio, says she is an abused wife, has even filed a police case and we now need to “analyse” her moral character by suggesting that she shouldn’t be making these accusations if she isn’t married and then by giving her flack for the police not doing their jobs?” I am sure there was a reason I started on this tirade… gimme a sec…oh right! So, this lady on the radio did not sound “dis-empowered” and by that I mean she did not play the victim card. What she wanted was another option on top of what she had already tried, she sounded reasonably educated and therefore the perception is she has “lived”… and that is why those calls were the way they were. Attacking (I use this word for visual effect of course) her for not “fitting” the prescribed perception of what a wife should be: obedient, agreeable and mostly “not know any better”.
A colleague of mine once said to me that men always go back to their wives no matter what they do “elsewhere” and suggested the wives will always take them back and this is partly why compliments are difficult to take in for a lot of women, because they are generally so shallow that they do not even cover a tenth of the person you are dealing with. A compliment of a sexual nature doesn’t take me, the person into account. Its only about what you THINK you see when you look at me, what values you think I have based on your perceptions of how I present myself. When you are looking at me in that way, you are seeing an idea of what I should be… and that kinda pisses me off.
Tell me when I actually DO something that is worth talking about, set me a bloody goal I can aim for and attain that doesn’t centre on external validation but internal motivation. Anywho… I’ve gone way longer than I intended to. Let me know what compliments piss you off or what you think doesn’t get seen about you because people tend to get stuck at face value. O&O