Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Smile!"


You know when you're walking along, minding your own business and some guy you've never seen before tells you to smile? Right out of the blue, this stranger looks at you and says something like, "Smile! It's not so bad." You know that?

If you're a man, your answer is probably no. If you're a woman, your answer is probably yes. That's because this is some bullshit that men do to women, not to other men, and I've never heard of a woman doing it to a man.

For my entire life I've been baffled by this masculine behavior. What does some stranger care if I'm smiling? And where does he get off criticizing my relaxed, natural facial expression anyway? If my regular face isn't good enough for him, too bad. He doesn't get to rearrange my features so they're more pleasing to him.

One of the comments on this post on Shakesville.com gives me insight into this situation. The person posting is a man who admits to having told women to smile, but writes that he had no idea he was coming off as an asshole. Then his father told him that such behavior is about power: trying to get a woman who doesn't even know you to smile just for you, is you being on a power trip. Grateful to his dad, the guy stopped that crap.

So the next time a man tells me, "Smile, honey! It's not that bad," I'll say, "Why should I smile? Thinking you can get a woman to smile just because you've requested it, is some kind of power trip."

Or I might just say, "If you don't like how I look without a smile, don't look at me."

So there.

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