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Why You Shouldn’t Compliment Random Women

May 12, 2013

Progressive feminist atheist (did you get all that) blogger wants to tell you why you shouldn’t tell random women on the street that they’re hot.

 “It seems that men are finally starting to realize that many women do not like street harassment (or, in the parlance of the uninitiated, “unsolicited compliments about a stranger’s appearance”). This is really great and a sign that activists are doing a good job.”

Clear as day: if you give a stranger an unsolicited compliment, you are a harasser.

“So as nice as it would be if all that could be solved by noble, kind-hearted men taking valuable time out of their day to compliment female passerby on their appearance, that’s not gonna happen. Women don’t need men [emphasis mine] to save us from insecurity. We need to stand up and speak out ourselves against the ways in which our culture keeps us fearful and insecure, and the ways in which we help it to do so.”

This sounds like a score for the Strong and Independent™ crowd.

What the author fails to note, however, is the fact that an aptly-spoken compliment might just brighten (or make) someone’s day. It’s encouraging to validate each other, not because we’re dependent on compliments, but because we recognize each other’s completeness.

“That’s also why when a woman wears revealing clothes, it’s okay, in our society, to assume that she’s “looking for attention” or that she’s a slut and wants to sleep with a bunch of guys. Because why elsewould a woman wear revealing clothes if not for the benefit of men and to communicate her sexual availability to them, right?”

I agree with the obvious truth: A woman who wears revealing clothes is not automatically looking for the nearest man to jump their bones.

However, for the sake of honesty, is the author willing to concede that there are some women who do have a dominant motive to look for attention  and communicate sexual availability?

Usually, there are two camps: men who say “women are just dressing this way for attention!” and women who cannot fathom what they are doing. Both sides are incorrect in making such absolutes, and a specific percentage is up to a debate that I won’t partake in.

“The result of all this is that many men, even kind and well-meaning men, believe, however subconsciously, that women’s bodies are for them. They are for them to look at, for them to pass judgment on, for them to bless with a compliment if they deign to do so. They are not for women to enjoy, take pride in, love, accept, explore, show off, or hide as they please.”

This is an obvious stretch. Passing by a woman and celebrating her beauty do not equate to an ownership/judgmental mentality that the author so claims.

However, assume that she’s correct in her assessment. Does this entitlement attitude cross gender barriers into the strength of a man? Is it possible that an unknown woman who asks me to lift a heavy object or fix the car for her believes that a man’s physical power is hers when she finds convenient? Can she hide it when she wants?

Perhaps our generation suffers from an entitlement problem altogether. If the author realizes such, then a man giving a stranger a compliment is more so a symptom, rather than a significant problem requiring tireless work of anti-harassment activists.

“When you compliment a random woman who doesn’t know you, no matter how nice you are about it, there’s a good chance she’s going to freak out internally because for all she knows, you could be that latter type.

“But if you’re going to lay the blame for that somewhere, don’t blame the woman.”

This last paragraph sums up the attitude of the writer quite well: I will tell you men what not to do, I will tell women what they should and should not like (as if they’re all the same), and I will hold you men responsible for all actions and resulting consequences, including her feelings.

When it comes to articles like these, I will also hold you men responsible for one thing: believing it. The frustrated, confused, good man will go away from this believing he has been a harasser all hi life for giving unsolicited compliments, and he will feel the need to apologize to ALL women on account of perpetuating this rape culture.

He will experience an even deeper sense of confusion when he stumbles upon an article that encourages him to compliment women he doesn’t know. After all, he has soaked up every free thought (no pun intended) without carefully considering the truth of the matter, or the author’s integrity.

Is there a real problem with unsolicited compliments?

Perhaps, depending on your motive. A drive by, detail-oriented line of praise is likely to be appreciated. A random “you’re hot” is no different from what she may hear every day, and it will likely be more of an annoyance.

The real “problem,” if any, comes with one question: what do I want out of this interaction? If you want to tell a woman she’s beautiful because you’re needy and you hope it will get you somewhere with her, you should rethink your efforts.

Yes, it’s fine to compliment a woman if you ultimately wish to speak to her. Just be sure to introduce yourself after. Also note that a compliment given right away should be genuine. You are, afterall, giving a piece of praise as a separate transaction.

Lastly, don’t give your attention away like valueless currency. Reserve the best compliments for attitude and personality, once you get to know her.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.


  1. “If you want to tell a woman she’s beautiful because you’re needy and you hope it will get you somewhere with her, you should rethink your efforts.”

    Well, no. It is a basic human right to talk to anybody. Men are not second class citizens who can be browbeaten into silence by their superiors, ie. women. This is megalomania and a serious entitlement complex. If you believe you have the right to deny others the right to talk to you, you have serious ego problems.
    “Unsolicited compliments” are called flirting and it is universally welcomed if it’s being done by the right person. But you can not know if you’re the right person unless you try, so people try. And you can not punish them for this any other way than saying no to their advances. Compliments are not a crime for effs sake. This is just another feminazi tactic for shaming and bashing men.

    • Miri isn’t talking about taking away your rights. This discussion has NEVER been about what you are allowed to do legally, and it’s in fact extremely tiresome to continue to hear this claim made. Asinine, even. You and this author are completely mischaracterizing her argument.

      It’s about what you SHOULD do. How you should act to consider those around you and the untold effects your actions could have on people. She’s shining a light on the fact that many men don’t consider the negative effects of what they deem a positive action. And furthermore, they don’t self-examine to see why they’re doing what they’re doing.

      She has in other articles specifically mentioned that there are OF COURSE settings in which unsolicited compliments are acceptable. Parties, bars, more social settings. These are places people go to in order to interact with and meet new people. All Miri wants is for women to be able to move in this world outside of those spaces. To remove the assumption that women are always “available”. She wants an understanding that women are not always receptive to new, wonderful people, even if you’re one of them, especially given that so often the comments received in public are NOT from the proverbial good guy.

      [PG:Not once were rights mentioned. The author’s argument is faulty on its own. My conclusion is similar, just from another perspective.]

      • I was specifically replying to Deansdale, who focused on rights in his/her first paragraph.

        And did you have a specific rebuttal to my other comments?

  2. Michael Steane permalink

    Are women allowed to make unsolicited comments to men?

  3. Aishe permalink

    I’ve never been harassed by a western male in an unwarranted way. Compliments have always been respectul (and also made my day!).

    However, very often I’ve been seriously harassed by random muslim men(of all ages), who think nothing of following you down the road and whispering a mix of insults and innuendo and even grabbing you. And it doesn’t matter how you dress either or who you are — even muslim women who wear hijab get this treatment. And none of those men ever expect to get lucky — this is simply a power trip they enjoy.

    So, yes, the street is a hostile place at times and women definitly have cause to complain, but it would help if the actual problem is highlighted and not brushed under the ‘there be racism’ carpet and then expressed as an ‘all men’ issue.

  4. Deansdale, you are absolutely correct. The same is true with sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s all left up to the interpretation of the woman. If the hunky, sexy guy in logistics flirts with the girl or compliments her she’ll gush to all the other women that she received a compliment. If she finds him unattractive and “creepy”, she’ll file sexual harassment charges on him.

  5. Diego permalink

    The article of that feminist is full of crap. Typical female mindset that thinks she is the center of the universe. I don’t give a rats ass if women don’t like receiving my compliment. If they like it … fine. If they don’t like it … fine also. I give the compliment because that is what I as a man want to do. And it is not harassing. I will not chase her like a madman against her own will. If I give a compliment and I see she doesn’t like to receive compliments, I stop it immediately. Is that harassment ? I don’t think so. The only one harassing is this feminist. This feminist is harassing all males on this planet.

    The best would be for men to step taking the first step in dating. Let women take the first step. In that way, no woman will ever get harassed.

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