Compliments Are Flattering…Until They’re Not

Hey there readers!

Today I’d like to talk about rejection! Such a fun topic, I realize, but I’ve unfortunately been on the receiving end of some  unwanted attention from a person on Facebook that has inspired me to write this blogpost.  In the past two weeks messages have been popping up on my screen from a guy in my graduating high school class.  I was surprised to see the messages appear  on my newsfeed because we are not Facebook friends and I did not recognize his name.  In the initial message he inquired after my well –being with a casual,  “ hey how are you, you look really sexy in your pictures” which was, you know, super thoughtful and flattering!  I did not respond because 1.)  I was not Facebook friends with him, and  2.) I had no idea who he was. After checking out his profile I vaguely recognized him as a face I’d occasionally seen in the hallways between classes. We did not , however, have a class together or ever directly communicate with one another. As the week progressed,  I forgot about the entire issue until I began to receive a couple of other messages commenting on my appearance and the offer of his number so we could “ text and hang out”.

the Facebook form of rejection.
the Facebook form of rejection.

I again did not respond to these messages because I could not find a reason why I should respond to someone I never had a relationship with in high school, and whose messages consisted solely of creepy comments on my appearance. I finally received a very angry message the following week that went along the sarcastic lines of “ I’m so sorry I bothered you with my conversation you must be really too busy to contact an old classmate”. This final message really REALLY pissed me off and I made the executive decision of officially blocking him from my Facebook.  I don’t want to come across as a callous asshole who wouldn’t dare engage in a conversation with an old classmate, because that is just not the case. I never talked with this young man,not because my high school was chockfull of exclusive cliques, but because my graduating class number was around 800.  Furthermore, there was nothing friendly and casual about the messages he sent me.

This situation stands as a classic example of the patriarchy’s notion that men have a natural entitlement to compliment, or sexually harass, a woman they deem attractive. I barely knew this young man and I felt uncomfortable by his abrasive comments on my appearance. Where did he come off thinking I would find his comments complimentary or even attractive?

Seriously, please just talk to the hand, and then kindly gtfo
Seriously, please just talk to the hand, and then kindly gtfo

The reason, I believe, lies in the intrinsic opinion media has forced upon our society that women are subservient sexual beings who are automatically flattered by any attention given to them. The attention can be completely unwanted, and yet, there is the notion that “catcalling” or aggressively hitting on a girl is a “compliment”. I have to believe that my classmate must have believed his creepy approach as attractive and appropriate. He became angry because I refused to respond to his comments and for him that seems completely unjustifiable because he was giving me a compliment. I was obviously expressing my disinterest in the conversation; however, he kept persisting and eventually became downright angry at the fact that I did not respond. A young woman shouldn’t have to feel the need to justify rejection. It’s truly so simple, if she’s not interested, then she’s not interested!  It seems so preposterous that young women constantly feel the need to justify their reasoning for rejection. If any of you have experienced the backlash of male privilege and its’ affect on rejection please feel free to comment, I would love to hear about it! Until next week readers!

4 thoughts on “Compliments Are Flattering…Until They’re Not

  1. I am glad you kept your cool in this situation. This seriously reminds me of times when I have been harassed while walking alone. It never fails the more you ignore someone that for some reason that person retaliates in anger instead of simply leaving you alone. It can be scary and uncomfortable. Luckily your experience was online so ignoring was still a safe situation.I have read many times that (especially in terms of street harassment) asking the person to repeat themselves makes them realize that what they said was seriously inappropriate. This, of course does not seem to work in an online setting due to the fact that no matter how many times he re-read his messages to you it never truly “clicked.” Maybe this is the new form of harassment that we as women should not have to think of new ways to deal with it. It should just be a form of respect to simply leave someone alone and give up.

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    1. exactly! It’s the lack of respect for my feelings or my decisions that really irks me! Social media, if it hasn’t already, will surely bring in a whole new influx of harassment via the web.

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  2. I actually experienced a lot of street harassment a while back that I found upsetting (then I started reading into feminist theory and I got a better understand of why I found it upsetting); I was told that I shouldn’t say anything back because it was their way of complimenting me and I should just accept it.

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  3. Two things: 1 I’m sorry that you were harassed–and I hope that it has ended for good 2 I like your connection to patriarchal entitlement–I was shocked at first but your hypothesis really makes sense in this context. Well done.

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