Gender, Life + Love

3 steps to know if your compliments are great, sexist or just plain stupid

You know when it's appropriate to tell a girl she's sexy?

As we move through the world, people who identify as women are routinely objectified by those around us. During any interaction, we could be treated like complex humans deserving of respect, or maybe we will be reduced to our sexual value. You really never know.

There seems to be some confusion on the part of men about whether or not it's a compliment. Click To Tweet

There seems to be some confusion on the part of men as to what kinds of interactions are or are not compliments. So, here’s a handy guide to help you identify the difference.

1. An inappropriate sexual comment is not a compliment.

You know when it’s appropriate to tell a girl she’s sexy or hot? When you are in a sexual relationship or engaged in a bilateral, enthusiastic and consensual conversation about how attractive you find each other. Not out of the flipping blue, and particularly not if the woman is:

1. Unavailable. If a married or partnered woman is nonmonogamous and interested in you, trust me you will know. Otherwise keep your sexual compliments to yourself.

2. Someone you don’t know. This one should be pretty fucking obvious. You don’t anything about me, so telling me that I’m hot has ONE purpose and that is to remind me for no reason that because I am a woman, I am first and foremost a sex object to you.

An inappropriate sexual comment is not a compliment. Click To Tweet

3. Someone who has made it clear they aren’t interested in having a sexual relationship with you. Did she turn you down? Did she break up with you? Great. Don’t message her and tell her how hot she looks these days. She’s not interested and you are literally just reminding her that despite knowing that you feel entitled to sexualise her to her face.

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4. A colleague. Keep that shit to yourself. If you are interested in someone at work, then for God’s sake first ask them out and make it very clear that your working relationship won’t affected if she rejects you. If you so much as utter the words sexy, hot or attractive before you establish mutual sexual or romantic intent, you just reminded her that even at work, she’s a sex object.

2. Projecting your sexual fantasies onto an unwilling person is not a compliment.

Messaging someone you don’t know and telling them about all the things you have fantasized about doing to or with them is creepy as hell.

You can go the route of asshat Martin Shkreli and violate a woman's autonomy. Click To Tweet

It’s not a compliment, it’s a violation hiding behind the pretense of a “compliment.”

Alternatively, you can go the route of renowned asshat Martin Shkreli and violate someone’s autonomy by publicly “worshipping” them. It doesn’t matter how you go about it. If you make public overtures to someone who’s not interested you are reducing them to an object of your sexual or romantic fantasies.

3. Defending the honor of someone by degrading and demeaning our gender is not a compliment.

If you think that it’s a compliment to defend the honor of women you deem worthy while bashing a) our entire gender b )members of our gender who you think are unworthy, then GTFO your white horse. Telling a girl she’s worthy because she’s not “like other girls” isn’t a compliment – it’s an admission that your respect is contingent on her sexual conduct.

And guess what, reducing her to her sexual choices is sexual objectification.

 

 

It’s not that hard, just treat women like humans who are deserving of respect. So the next time you feel the urge to tell someone you don’t know how sexy she is or throw caution to the wind and send your explicit sexual fantasy to someone online, don’t.

And guess what, reducing her to her sexual choices is sexual objectification. Click To Tweet

I believe in you. You can do it.

Katherine Kaestner

Katherine Kaestner

Editorial Fellow Katherine Kaestner is a writer, photographer and marketer currently based in Germany. She is passionate about wine, farmer's markets, unapologetic feminism, and foreign policy. She is a nomad who's lived in 12 countries and cities around the world and doesn't really know where home is.

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