So now we can’t take a compliment anymore…

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What would you do if a man gave you a compliment? Would you a) punch him in the face, b) parade down the street wearing a vagina hat and a crew cut shouting about women’s objectification or c) take it and say thanks a million. I’d go with thanks every time. I love compliments and any kind of flattery. I know – what a weirdo.

Suffice to say, when Donald Trump singled out Irish RTE reporter Caitriona Perry in the White House’s Oval Office to inform her that she had a “nice smile” as he spoke on the phone to Leo Varadkar earlier this week, I was counting the seconds for the predictable neo-liberal maelstrom that would follow. He may as well have pinched her on the bum or dare I say it ‘grabbed her by the pussy’ such was the gormless zeitgeist reflective backlash from keyboard warriors across the globe.

Just to recap, Mr Trump said; “We have a lot of your Irish press watching us right now… We have here all of this beautiful Irish press.. I bet she treats you well..Where are you from?” etc.. The reactions were standard liberal horse excrement, typically ignoring the not so subtle nod to how media treat him in the US.

“It’s hell to be objectified,” “I am sorry you had to endure that treatment,” “There are simply no words to describe how violated I feel for her,” commentators stated on social media. Unsurprisingly members of the Irish media felt compelled to take public umbrage. Anton Savage called the transaction ‘creepy’ stating that Trump wouldn’t have done it if Caitriona were a man.

Ms Perry, who called the non incident ‘bizarre’ on social media, has enjoyed a career coup and one I would relish openly and bask in eternally. The Washington correspondent has seen her social media following increase significantly, which in these culturally bereft times is pertinent, plus she’s plugged her employer RTE, who will be forever grateful and everyone is talking about how well she handled the situation. It opened doors and created endless opportunities.

I would flog that particular horse until it’s deader than dead Jack Mc Dead. “Did I ever tell you about that time Donald Trump turned me into a global headline,” I would reminisce ad nauseam. “No way. Amazing. How did he do that?” my enthusiastic audience would ask. “He said I had a nice smile.” ‘Is that it?,’ they’d respond, somewhat dejected.

Er yeah. In my book, a nice smile means nice teeth, which should be celebrated. I always dish out compliments- nice coat or nice boots or teeth, or whatever to males and females.

I don’t know when we stopped taking compliments and why, but it’s an awful shame. Women are fighting a battle that’s already been won and we’re shooting ourselves in the foot.  When was the last time a guy walked you to a cab? Made sure you get home safely? Bought you a drink, helped you carry that piano up the stairs? By screaming about sexism and objectification, we now have to put together our own flat packs. Nice one.

Men meanwhile are afraid of opening doors, buying dinner and saying anything that could cause offense. They’re also starting to kick back as many are leaving the workforce and letting women take over. Women gleefully accept the challenge of working harder than ever before and looking after their families.

Being independent is a curse. I’m a single parent, I work for myself and it sucks sometimes. The more independent and capable you are – the less people will help you. In fact, you’re the one called upon to help others who don’t have the tools to help themselves. You’re the one who is never allowed to complain because you’re well able to do stuff.

When I was pregnant, it was largely older men and women who gave up their seat- not younger men. They didn’t notice. What a victory.

Freedom and happiness aren’t the same thing. Women in the west are freer than anyone in the world, but we’re not necessarily better off, especially women lower down in the socio economic pecking order. We have to balance jobs, careers, family and we have to do it without showing any weakness so we pretend to each other how great everything is. I know women who work 12 hour days and have families too and everything’s always ‘fine’ or ‘great.’

Now- according to this new custom of not taking complements, we get ignored. I recall guys falling to their knees when I used to wear my latex attire and high heeled boots. When I had my baby and lost my size 8 frame, I was gutted. All that stuffing my face during pregnancy came home to roost.

I still got compliments though. ‘You look great. No you’re not fat,’ they’d insist over and over again. When I got my pre baby figure back and wore my kind of clothes again, I’d go out feeling great and hear ‘You look hot’ or ‘wow you look amazing.’ ‘You look like 28’ etc.  Whats wrong with that? Some women would find this derogatory, but I don’t hang out with uptight women. They don’t smile.

If you have problems figuring out what’s offensive and what isn’t, here’s my guide: Groping, staring, making cat noises, sexual advances, physical intrusion and stalking are an obvious no no. Public stoning, Sharia law, child brides, rape culture and burkas are sexist as well as many other things.  Unfortunately neo-liberal narrative allies itself with dangerous ideologies and next thing you know the people who scream sexism with non issues also support women being covered up.

Things that are complementary include men buying you a drink, saying you look good, smiles and nods. Personally I don’t mind wolf whistles either, but I’m particularly easy going.

I have a few male friends who wouldn’t let me buy them a drink despite my valiant efforts. They’ll even make sure I make it home safely. Thanks gentlemen. Don’t ever change. If you know men like this- cherish them. They’re a dying breed and we killed them.

Next time someone says you have a nice smile. Just say thanks and move on. Be glad they noticed. Also compared to other stuff, it’s not really a big deal is it?

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