By: Mary Fran Bontempo

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Ladies, the next time a man pays you a compliment on your looks, prepare to be insulted.

Because, after all, if a guy says you’re attractive, he’s also implying that you have no other redeemable qualities, you’re a dope and you’re good for nothing but serving as eye candy.

At least, that’s what some foaming-at-the-mouth defenders of feminism would have us believe.

Last week, President Obama was called out for daring to compliment California Attorney General Kamala Harris at a fund raiser. After noting that Harris “is brilliant and she is dedicated and she is tough, and she is exactly what you’d want in anybody who is administering the law,” Obama had the audacity to add, “She also happens to be by far the best-looking attorney general in the country.”

God forbid.

Exactly when did it become politically incorrect to pay someone a compliment? Granted, if the President hadn’t referred to Harris as brilliant, dedicated and tough, the insulted masses might have a case. But he did refer to her in those terms. First, and before an offhand quip that was clearly intended to be humorous.

Do we now need to stick only to the details of a woman’s resume when offering any type of compliment? And if a man has the nerve to note our looks, should he be upbraided and humiliated because he dared voice appreciation?

“Hey, honey, you look really nice tonight. Is that a new haircut?”

“Oh really? I look nice, do I? What’s that supposed to mean? What about the project I just finished at work? How come you didn’t say anything about that?”

“Well, I didn’t know about it….”

“And how about the way I do the laundry and clean up the bathrooms? Why didn’t you talk about how well I do that?”

“Gee, I didn’t mean….”

“You know, you’ve never said anything about my SAT scores, either. They were pretty good. I think I deserve to be recognized for my accomplishments. I’m incredible, you know, and it’s about time you realized it. Really, my hair? You’re complimenting my hair?”


Ladies, haven’t we been trying to get guys to say something nice about how we look for oh, I don’t know, millennia? Now that they’re finally getting the message, we’re changing the rules again. No wonder they just sit there and keep their mouths shut. Who could blame them?

Like I said, smart, accomplished women deserve to be recognized for their achievements. But, if our conversation has devolved to the point where it’s offensive to say something nice about someone, we need to rethink what messages we’re sending. It hardly seems like paying an attractive woman a compliment, is going to set feminism back thirty years, especially if a man has made it a point to proclaim her accomplishments.

There’s no sin in noticing beauty, or in voicing an appreciation of it. But even more important, the statement was a joke, between two friends who have known each other for years. Lighten up, people! The outcry over this simply serves to reinforce the stereotype of feminists as sour, humorless, angry women. It’s not something any of us should aspire to.

Frankly, I work my butt off to look half decent, and I don’t always succeed, despite my best efforts. So if a man is going to first off, notice how I look and then, pay me a compliment, I’m going to smile graciously and accept it.

Especially if that man is the President of the United States–or my husband. Because getting a husband to notice how his wife looks is actually an accomplishment any woman would be proud to add to her resume.

What’s your take on the flap over the President complimenting Attorney General Harris? Click “comments” below and share!