#Opinion

Dear Women, Don’t Fall For These 14 Sexist Compliments

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Sexist Compliments- these words, connected with a tight thread, exude an oddity that we were better without. Irrespective of who you are, compliments do initiate an adrenaline rush that brings a wide smile and sometimes blush on the face. But wait. Rethink.

Reconsider the compliment before being overwhelmed by its applause. Because not all compliments are good. They are sexist and aim at demeaning your value as a woman, consciously or unconsciously. Often, these sexist remarks posed as compliments, go unnoticed because we all have grown in a patriarchal society that indoctrinates sexism in our minds ever since we are born. So what’s the solution? Not to give in but to unlearn our conditioning and react to the compliments…oops…sexist remarks with the best feminist comebacks. So here are 14 sexist compliments that women should not fall for:

1. Your face is glowing. Time to get married

Firstly, what does marriage have to do with the face and its glow? This “compliment” reinstates the idea that a woman’s beauty and a man’s salary is all that is needed to tie a knot. Secondly, how can it be a compliment for a woman who doesn’t want to marry at all or not until she is prepared? Indian society assumes that a woman needs to get married for social and monetary security. But dear society, to marry or not is a decision that woman alone should take, not conventions, age or the glowing face.

2. Women are blessed with talents to handle work and house together

Would anyone ever say this to a man? No. Because patriarchy assumes that the responsibilities inside the house are feminine and belong to women. This sexist compliment endorses the stereotype that women alone should take care of the house and not men because they are not “blessed”. But as we all know it is quite opposite in our society. And this is visible when women’s labour in housework is undermined after a minute of laudation which in reality is just a way to restrict women further by pedestalling them as Devi or sacred and not a normal human with almost similar capacities as men.

3. It is awesome that you play sports despite being a woman

This is another sexist comment that reiterates the stereotype that girls cannot play sports. That sport is a masculine domain. But dear society, are you not aware that Mithali Raj recently completed her 55th ODI Half-Century? Do you not know the gems of sports like Sania Mirza, Mary Kom and Hima Das amidst others? It is high time now that we give up this stereotype that girls can’t excel in sports. Or as Sania Mirza puts it, “It should be natural for girls to pursue sports as a career.”

4. How is a woman like you still single?

Many might blush at this compliment initially. But when you rethink, a whole can of worms will open. The sexist compliment endorses the idea that every woman should be committed in a relationship or marriage; that relationship depends on how well a woman looks; that women cannot possibly embrace singlehood for life and that she needs a man to be happy and complete. But dear society, women have the right to choose when or if they want to be in a relationship. Please stop worrying about us.

5. Women look great in uniforms

Often women working in the professional arena are judged based on their looks and not talents and hard work. Be it an officer, pilot o a leader, women face this sexist remark that puts their clothes and looks before their abilities and work. But dear society, it is high time you realise that women in uniform (or as a metaphor for professionalism) exude extraordinary abilities and courage to take on the world on their own. They are in service of nation, society or themselves irrespective of their looks or uniforms. So if you want to appreciate a professional woman, start with her achievements.

6. It’s great that you know about politics

The choice to be political or apolitical (which by the way is also a political stance) is a personal choice. But judging political stance based on gender is wrong. It is common in our society for women to stay away from politics or consider the male counterparts as the sole medium of knowing what is happening outside the world. But this is just a representation of how patriarchy doesn’t allow women to be political as it embodies opinions, freedom and equality. But now women are breaking those barriers. So women too have the freedom to be political or apolitical. Stop undermining their opinions and start listening to them.

7. You like eating so much, unlike other girls

This is an example of how sexism is served on the plate too. Patriarchy assumes that women eat less to maintain their body shape. Moreover, “women eat less” also comes from the idea that women serve the families members before serving themselves. Hence eating more, chewing loudly and being a messy eater is seen as unfeminine. But, dear society, eating is the basic means of survival. Stop judging women if they eat less or more, eat with hands or spoon. It is their food, their life and their choice.

8. Try wearing makeup, you look pretty

Dear women, stop falling for this compliment because it’s just a sexist remark on how women should always look “pretty”. Ever heard a man getting such compliments about how to look and how they should look? Dear society, stop pressurising women to mend their looks. It is her choice to wear makeup or not. And stop concentrating a woman’s value on her looks. Because she is much more than that.

9. You cook well, you will become a good wife

Really? Why can’t she become a good chef? This is what man would hear if he cooks well because it is not normal in our society for a man to cook. But let us understand, cooking is the basic need for survival and everyone should know it. If a woman cooks well, it doesn’t mean she is preparing herself to be a good wife. Rather it means that she prepared to survive on her own or is perhaps looking forward to a career in cooking.

10. You look good. Have you lost some weight?

This complement reeks of body shaming. Dear women, don’t fall for it. The sexist complement considers the loss of weight equivalent to good looks. This in turn means that if a woman gains weight, she will not look beautiful. Dear society, it is 2021, when are you going to get over body-shaming women? Why is the idea of beauty so narrow that women are in conflict with other women and with themselves?

11. You drink beer? That’s unusual and great

Patriarchy deems it inappropriate for a woman to hold a can of beer and relax alone or cheers it with a group of friends. Even if a woman does drink, she is allowed (as per stereotypes) to have drinks that are soft and low on alcohol content. Dear society, it is high time now that you get rid of these stereotypes and understand that a woman has the freedom to choose what she has in her glass- both literally and metaphorically.

12. It’s great how you handle work despite being a mother

This is not a compliment but sexist reminder that women cannot prioritise work over her duties as a mother. Motherhood, in our patriarchal society, is equivalent to the sacrifice of personal aims and dreams. In many houses, women are shamed for prioritising work as taking care of the child is assumed to be a mother’s duty alone. Dear society, it’s time that you change your misconception because motherhood is a beautiful journey (if the woman’s choice is involved) and yet a woman’s career is also equally important. Do you give this compliment to men? No, because their paycheck is considered to be more important than women’s which is not right.

13. You drive well for a girl

Women drivers have always been undermined because it is considered that driving is something only men can excel in. But researches have proved that women are better drivers than men and more and more women are now holding the steering in their hands. So dear society, it’s high time that you stop blaming the entire womanhood for rash driving. Women are safe drivers. Period.

14. Saree makes you look more feminine

If a woman doesn’t wear a saree, is she not a woman or feminine enough? Who gets to define the meaning of feminine? Unfortunately not women but the male gaze. But, let us understand, femininity is a fluid idea that can be defined by anyone who wants to own it (not only women). As Konkona Sen Sharma rightly pointed out in an interview with SheThePeople that there are many valid ways to be a woman. So stop falling for these compliments and be the beholder of your beauty.