I consider myself a feminist. I believe in eliminating gender norms and double standards. I believe in treating women no differently than you would a man. I cringe every time someone makes a comment about how a wife should be cooking or cleaning, or express the expectation that women in tech companies aren’t developers, because it further reinforces generations-old sexism that too many people don’t even see as such.

But sometimes, I’m not sure of the best way to be a man-feminist. I’ve seen posts on feminist blogs complaining about men who compliment a women’s look - the gist being that the guy is an asshole for assuming that his validation is somehow necessary. That makes sense, and I don’t want to be that guy. But I’ve also seen posts from women thankful to get a compliment when they were having a rough day or didn’t know about a new look. On the whole, people appreciate compliments, but it can be a fine line when a man compliments a woman.

So what’s a guy to do when he sees a woman with a shaved head? How does one respectfully tell a lady, “You are absolutely nailing that look, ma’am”?

I think it’s reasonable to assume that striding up to a woman with the express purpose of telling her that is a no-no, but I’m not the type that would ever do that anyway. But what if you get to chatting with a lady at the bar, or in line at the grocery store? How does one gracefully point out how one appreciates that a stranger is doing a bang-up job defying gender norms?

Futhermore, the shaved head thing. I feel like I have to mention that this post started months ago when I saw a healthy-looking woman with a shaved head at a restaurant. And I feel like I have to say “healthy-looking woman,” because no one bats an eye if a dude has a shaved head (such as yours truly), but most people assume that a woman with a shaved head is undergoing chemo. I’d like to go on the record as being pro-shaved-lady-head, and would gladly wield the clippers for anyone who wishes to undergo said. I’m not sure if that counts as feminist, but we should do it anyway.