So here’s a fun experiment you can try:
- First, be male
- Be short, slim, and have good hair and a nice butt
- Get catcalled
- Turn around
- Wait for the inevitable “oh, sorry man”
- Reflect on whether it was really “just a compliment”, given that it is instantly retracted when you turn out to be incompatible with their sexual orientation.
OK, maybe you can’t try this. So maybe just take it from someone who has.
For the record, I get a ton of compliments from women, almost always about my hair. And I genuinely appreciate it. But here’s the thing: I know from observing women that it is very likely to be a legitimate compliment. Because women say “OMG I love your hair!!!” to other women all the damn time. On the other hand, the fact that hetero men reliably retract their appreciation when I turn out to be a dude tells me that their compliments… aren’t.
Also for the record, I remain firmly in the “I wish we could all compliment each other all the time” camp. My dream is not of a perpetual New York in Spring.
But there is some serious baggage here, and as a result we can’t have nice things. Yet.