All minority groups in a society go through the brunt of backhanded compliments. So, what are backhanded compliments? A backhanded compliment is a compliment that is not a compliment at all. The subtle oppression euphonized in the form of a compliment is far greater an insult than if somebody were to abuse someone in their face. Only the other day someone said to me, “Oh, you drive really well, didn’t expect that. Good for you!”. A lousy attempt at flattery, I am sure the person never expected me to lash out at them, let alone say thank you. It was not only a dig at my ability to drive but also a dig at the ability of all females to drive. Gaslighting is a common response to such aggression. For example, the person’s response to me in this situation was – “Oh, don’t be so sensitive”. GASLIGHTING. Well, maybe that’s a topic for another day.
Backhanded compliments at the workplace are the worst. For a person working in the U.S., a lot of times they coincide with racial microaggressions. For example, I was once asked by one of my colleagues, “Hey, how do you speak English so well?” and another time, “Hey, how is your skin so light?”. Was I flattered? No, quite the opposite. However, I gave the benefit of the doubt to the person asking the question and assumed that they are just an ill-informed individual who live in their own bubble and have no idea what goes on in the Universe outside of that bubble. And so, I decided to be the bigger person and inform them about my country and their ways instead.
Backhanded compliments could be a result of a system engulfed with ill-informed individuals but a lot of times they are meant to subtly sting. Flattery camouflaged as insult. When it’s intentional, you really can’t do anything about it. However, when it is unintentional, you could be the person perpetrating ittoo without your knowledge and so it is highly important to check your compliments before giving them out how I give out fucks (working on it!).