I’ve always had a sneaking suspicion that compliments are mostly BS, and I ran into an interesting social experiment on Twitter this week that proves it.
Instead of saying the usual variation of “thank you so much!” and/or blushing with eyelashes fluttering, 20-year-old student Claire Boniface decided to agree with every compliment a man gave her on social media. It did not go well.
Now, common lore would have us believe that men prefer an agreeable woman, but apparently, men don’t want you to say, “Yes,” when they tell you you’re beautiful, or “yepp,” when they say, “You’re amazing.” When you do, you immediately stop being beautiful and amazing and become a vain, ugly bitch.
Boniface theorized the negative responses could have “a lot to do with how some men believe that they have the power to tell women what they are, without considering that women have already acknowledged this themselves.”
She said the overwhelmingly negative responses felt kind of confused though. “They don’t know what to do when a woman isn’t grateful for their comments and so they take away the compliment as if this will change anything.”
This young lady is one smart cookie, and I do not use that minor endearment as a compliment.
Boniface inspired 18-year-old Gweneth Bateman to conduct the same experiment with her 66,000-plus Twitter followers to shine a light on how women are treated on the Internet. She got the same negative response. Here’s one conversation:
“Matt”: Your beautiful.
Gweneth: thank you!! I know aha how are you?
“Matt”: being vain won’t get you anywhere it just makes you a bitch
Bateman agreed with Boniface that the negativity was confusing. “Why give me a compliment in the first place if you didn’t want me to believe it? … Some boys believe that women should base their self worth off of the complement that they feed to them, and as soon as a woman realizes that she’s awesome without their help, they get incredibly angry.”
If this social experiment is right, most compliments aren’t genuine expressions of admiration or appreciation, they’re a sotto voce power play, a minor player in a game of gender politics.
So you know what I’m going to do from now on, right? Yup. The next time someone compliments me, I’ll agree. And if they clown and ask, “who do you think you are?” I’m going to laugh and refer them to this blog.