We have all heard it before: “You’re [blank] for a girl”. You could put in anything from smart to funny. We have also heard, “You’re not like other girls.” It’s usually a man we’re talking to who wants to give us a compliment and really does have the best intentions. And in reality, he’s not trying to be sexist, offensive or damaging at all. But at the end of the day, it is not our intentions that define us, but the outcome of what we actually have done. And unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that when men give compliments to women at the expense of other women, it is damaging.
When a comment is made that demeans other women, it first and foremost lessens the compliment. When a man says something along the lines of, “You’re smart for a girl,” this really isn’t a compliment. It is basically like saying, “Being a woman makes you of lesser status and I am extremely surprised that you have been able to overcome the stupidity of your gender and be comparable to me in your intelligence.” This sounds incredibly pompous and rude when it’s broken down doesn’t it? It sounds as if there is so little respect for the population of women when you really think about it. It shoves women into specific boxes that have glass ceilings and sticky floors and not only is it wrong to put them in that situation, but it is also simply ignorant to assume that all women are fundamentally bad at anything other than being men just because they are women.
Also, a compliment is not really a compliment when you have to demean other people to give it. When women are told that they are anything “for a girl,” this destroys and rips apart other women and when something hurts someone else, it doesn’t really make it out to be much of a compliment at all. Rather, it is simply rude and destructive and not at all helpful.
When we break someone else down in the process of building another person up, we have done effectively nothing other than hurt a group of people for absolutely no reason. I know that this sounds ridiculous to me and I think with that explanation, it sound ridiculous and hurtful to my audience as well.
Men usually mean no harm when they give these compliments. They don’t mean to be oppressive when they group all women into boxes and most have never been taught that it is damaging despite having mothers and grandmothers. But these comments, no matter what is meant by them are both hurtful as well as ignorant. Watch what you say and remember it’s not a compliment to tell a woman she does anything well for a girl.