Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The thing about men and pants

The other day, we were sitting in the conference room eating lunch together, and a guy who works in another department walked in to say something to us. As he chatted for a few minutes, I noticed that he was wearing some nice jeans - the dark wash kind with a light stitching. I liked them. They were good jeans. If he had been a girl, I would have immediately told her I liked her jeans.

After he left, I turned to my co-workers and asked a question that I thought was perfectly normal to ask (read: I AM AWKWARD).

"Is it okay to compliment a man's pants?"

They stared at me, slightly horrified that it would even occur to me to do such a thing, and responded with a resounding "NO, THAT'S WEIRD."

This led to a discussion about why it was weird (men will take it wrong if you compliment their pants, apparently) and it made me sad for the world.

I mean, obviously, if I was all "Hey male co-worker, your butt looks great in those jeans," I realize that would be inappropriate. But why can't you say "Those are great jeans!" without implying "AND I ALSO WANT TO HAVE YOUR BABY!"?

I don't like living in a world where you can't compliment somebody's pants.

And even more, I don't like living in a world where men are afraid to compliment women for the same reason. My three male co-workers unanimously agreed that they would feel uncomfortable complimenting a woman on something she was wearing because she would likely think he was creepy or hitting on her.


I have decided that we have two groups of people to blame for this:

1) Creepy guys who only compliment women to get them into bed (Is that all men? Please say no! Please say some men want to talk about your book!)

2) Women who overreact or over-interpret innocent compliments from men.

Women, in general, don't take compliments very well from anybody. Have you ever had to argue with a woman about a compliment you gave her? It's infuriating. Say "thank you," ladies, even if you don't agree with the complimenter. I know, it goes against a lot of our instincts to just say "thank you" instead of pointing out all the flaws that we see in ourselves. But that's what we should do. Practice it right now. "Thank you!" See? Was that so hard?

So, yeah, I have to think we're partially at fault for this lack of compliments. I've heard of male friends who held doors for women and been chastised because "I CAN OPEN A DOOR MYSELF." And yeah, we burned our bras for this whole equality thing, but I'm not going to lie, I like it when my husband stands up on a bus for women or opens doors for me. I can do all of these things myself (I am woman! HEAR ME ROAR!), but you know, chivalry is nice too.

Maybe chivalry didn't just die; maybe we MASSACRED IT with our insistence on pushing people away at the slightest show of special respect or attention from men.

I don't know, really.

But what I do know is that Owen said he is afraid to compliment women even though he thinks it would be nice to be able to innocently do so.

And that's when I quoted Gandhi. In conversation.

"Be the change you want to see in the world!" I urged him. GOLD STAR FOR MANDY.

I think that's when he shook his head and walked away. I don't think I quite got through to this particular group of guys.

Oh well. I'll be that change I want to see in the world. I'll go ahead compliment your pants, gentlemen.

But just know - it's not because I want to get in them.
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