“You’re not like most women” is not a compliment!

“You’re not like most women” is not a compliment! October 15, 2012

Telling me that I’m not like most women–I’m more logical, rational, calm, unemotional, etc–is not a compliment.

It’s an insult to my gender and my sex. You’re telling me my good qualities are an anomaly based on who I am. You’re asking me to dismember myself. To separate my intelligence from the rest of me. From my gender identity and from my vagina.

That my brain and my boobs and my femininity are a paradox.

I see through you.

I see through this not-so-subtle attack on other women. Women who I love and respect. I see that you’re trying to divide us.

You’re trying to get me on your side. Trying to get me to oppress my own gender and sex. Trying to convince me that I’m immune to this oppression as long as I don’t get “too” angry, “too” emotional…as long as I don’t talk about who I am “too” much.

You’re trying to control me. Praising me when I’m safe, hoping to prevent me from acting in ways that make you uncomfortable.

It’s not going to work.

I know what you’re up to.

“You’re not like most women” is not a compliment.

It’s a warning.

But it’s not going to work.

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  • Yeah, it’s like that old line, “You’re really good at basketball for a girl.” Ah yes, reaffirm gender stereotypes for kids!

    A much better compliment is, “You’re not like most Christians.”

  • When I was in middle school, one of my white “friends” said to me, “You’re not like most “n-words.” Yeah growing up in rural VA with a large KKK contingent.

    If people want to give a compliment, then comment on our character, not our gender/race/physical ability or appearance, etc.

    Sarah, did someone say this to you? How did you respond in the moment?

  • you’re not like most people, thank gawd for that.

  • If someone said you are not like most people, would you still think this way? Would that be insulting to people everywhere? I think you are over thinking things a bit. Language like that is usually the language of love. A man may say you are the most beautiful woman in the world to his wife. To someone else she may be ordinary, but to him she is the most beautiful because he loves her. For a man to say you are not like most women it is saying there is something that he sees in you that separates you from the crowd.

    • Larissa

      I see your point, but I don’t think Sarah’s over thinking this.

      I think it’s very contextual. Sure, I want my husband to think more highly of me than other women. But I still wouldn’t appreciate my husband telling me that I’m better or more beautiful or smarter or whatever than any other woman. That’s flat out untrue (let’s be honest here), and I would rather he give a compliment without including a comparison to “women” in general. (To his credit, he has never given a “compliment” in this manner, which I greatly appreciate).

      I don’t want a coworker/friend/peer/anyone to say “you’re not like other women” – which has happened on numerous occasions. Likewise, “you’re just like a woman” has been said and is just as annoying. Jermaine Lane above makes a great point: comment on someone’s character or actions, not on race, gender, etc.

      • Sure it may not be the best compliment, but I sure don’t think it is an insult to all women. Taken literaly, it is simply stating she is not like other women. That only becomes insulting to women if you assume that he has a bad opinion of women. I used to think women in general were better people than men, and if I were to have said that then I wouldn’t have meant to insult women only that she stands out from the crowd in whatever way.

  • Anna

    I had this experience recently in one of my engineering classes. One guy made the comment that all girls are illogical. Of course, the 2 girls in the room (out of a class of 30) were rightly offended. He came up to us after class and tried to apologize, but made things worse by saying that we were obviously smart and logical, unlike most girls.

  • It’s not apparent here (at least to me) whether this was a generalization, or a response to a specific guy/situation.

    (I had a response all written out but realized there was no point without knowing this.)

  • kalim

    Death is either eternal annihilation, a gallows on which will be hanged both man and all his friends and relations; or it comprises the release papers to depart for another, eternal, realm, and to enter, with the document of belief, the palace of bliss. The grave is either a bottomless pit and dark place of solitary confinement, or it is a door opening from the prison of this world onto an eternal, light-filled garden and place of feasting.

  • kalim

    “One who recognizes Him and obeys Him is fortunate even if he is in prison. While one who forgets Him is wretched and a prisoner even if he resides in a palace.” Even, one wronged but fortunate man said to the wretched tyrants who were executing him: “I am not being executed but being demobilized and departing for where I shall find happiness. But I see that you are being condemned to eternal execution and am therefore taking perfect revenge on you.” And declaring: “There is no god but God!”, he happily surrendered up his spirit.
    11.th Ray, from Risalei-Nur Collection by Said Nursi

  • Well-said! And another layer of this problem is when I WANT to be seen as “not like most women.” It’s internalized sexism…

  • I believe it all depends on who’s giving the “compliment” If my husband said that to me I’d overlook it because he makes dorky statements like that (never with any malice). If it came from another guy, hmm, I’d have some issues.

  • Janet

    My favorite complement:
    You aren’t like other Christians. You actually like people who don’t believe like you!

  • E

    Well, hmmm, I can see your point. Like when guys say “women drivers” I usually point out it’s because nobody used to take the time to teach them but now that they do the bad drivers are usually idiots on the phone of both genders. But, and for me this is huge, I cannot stand those giggly, shrieky, poor-me-I’m-so-dumb, don’t-hate-me-cause-I’m-beautiful females. You know the kiss-kiss be careful of the makeup and hair and how’s my boobjob gotta buy me thousand dollar shoes and bags or I’ll die females? But for all my real sisters? The ones waitressing, cleaning up after others, nursing or doctoring the ill, delivering goods, investigating, researching, teaching, taking care of people or animals or buildings, surviving. Those are the ones I’m proud to stand with and be like. We can giggle or shriek or sometimes be dumb or play dumb and we are beautiful. We do kiss and wear makeup and do our hair and and sometimes get boobjobs (for ourselves) and we even splurge on shoes and bags. I’m proud of my real sisters and I’ve even said it very loud in public places when I felt a particular women needed to hear it. I stop women in public places too and compliment them if they’ve done something cool or they look really nice. I’m even teaching my two young sons to do that to all people.

  • Katin Thehat

    …um… you do realize your emotional reaction to the compliment is another “girl type” reaction to things, don’t you?

    Does the complimenthave to be exactly phrased how you like it for you to accept it? Seems a bit persnickety, the world rarely works like that.

    Guys get this too: “you’re athletic for a fat guy”, “pretty smart for a stoner” – you take the grain of good & run w/it & chalk the rest up to “the person isn’t thinking it thru very hard, they’re just complimenting me”

    Seeing an agenda & Big Issue where someone is just speaking “like people speak” is getting worked up over nothing (& plays right into the male oppressor’s framing you as over-emotional in many ways).

    • Ah, the point. You have missed it so much.

  • Reblogged this on .

  • MadameSomnambule .

    I just don’t get how women are expected to behave that way, to stay passive, to avoid being opinionated, and being silenced when we make men uncomfortable. No gender equality here. Nope! And I don’t see much justice involved in silencing women and allowing men to speak either. No equality, no justice, I just don’t understand this at all. 🙁