I think I was ten when I read somewhere that men like women who know how to take a complement. My ten year old self thought, “that’s great. Men like women who know they are smart and beautiful.” I thought men liked it when you agree with them when they complement you.
As it turns out, that is not always the case.
Yes, there are men who don’t like it when you don’t “accept” a compliment. I don’t think anyone likes it when they tell someone they are beautiful and have them say something like, “you don’t really mean that.” Yes, I mean it. Why else would I say it? I think it is sad, especially for women, to be unaware of their good qualities. Because society more often than not, will tear us down. You cannot afford to do that to yourself. I think everyone needs a sense of pride. I think everyone deserves to believe it when they are complemented.
A lot of times, when a guy says, “hey, I think you are beautiful” and you respond with a “thank you. I know”, they will take it back. They will tell you to not be cocky because you are not even that beautiful to begin with. That they were only complementing you to start a conversation. You’re probably thinking, no one likes an arrogant person. But why is a woman knowing she’s beautiful arrogant?
I find this ironic because our culture conditions women to care so much about their physical attractiveness but doesn’t place the same emphasis on men. Men grow up knowing that their looks play little to no role in their lives. So why is that we shame women for believing they are beautiful? Why is it that women who spend time and money on their outward beauty can only be shallow and superficial and dumb? Why can smart girls only be ugly?
I got one word for you. Patriarchy.
Patriarchy requires women to be led (read oppressed), to have no control over their lives. To not know what they want. Patriarchy requires women to be ashamed of their sexuality, that or she is a slut. Patriarchy expects women to be timid and take crap, that or she is a bitch. Patriarchy requires women to be beautiful but somehow oblivious to it, that or she is superficial.
It might seem insignificant that a man would get offended that you are aware of your beauty, but what he is really saying, is I’m threatened by you. Because a woman who knows she’s beautiful and strong and smart, knows she’s deserving of equal rights. And that is a threat to a culture that profits from women doubting themselves. Case in point, would you imagine the hit the cosmetic industry would take if women woke up one day and decided their bodies are perfect? That their stretchmarks didn’t need removing and their hair didn’t need straightening. That the acne on their face is only proof that they are humans capable of communing and being impacted by the elements. That whatever shape, size and form and bodies take as we go through life is just but a testament to our strength, that we can take on life, wage and win wars(mostly against ourselves, but still) and when all is said and done, we’ll only grow and morph.
So when people tell you, “don’t be cocky”, what they are really saying is, reign in your power. Dull your shine, don’t blind us. But it shall never be your responsibility to accommodate ideals that break you. May we always be the women that refuse to blush, may we always be the women that say “thank you very much. I noticed my banging ass too.”