Smile, Damn You, Smile
Sheelzebub of Pinko Femnist Hellcat has written a terrific post about telling women to smile (recent “Alas” posts on that topic can be found here and here). Here’s a sample, that I think cuts directly to the heart of the matter:
What is surprising is that so many people in these discussions don’t get just how entitled one must be in to order a perfect stranger to smile at them. At the very least, it’s rude, boorish, and rather obnoxious. It says a lot that a random man feels he has the right to try and dictate how a woman arranges her facial features. It says a lot that it’s considered no big deal for a woman to be expected to change her expression for a stranger’s comfort.
Do you command random people to sing for you? Dance for you? Tell you a joke? Why is it okay to order a woman to smile? And why is it so terrible for her to resent this?
Sheelzebub also quotes Mary’s comment posted on Alas (Mary is the blogger behind Naked Furniture).
Last year in college I took a polisci class on feminism, and one of our assignments one weekend, after having read a piece by [Miss Manners], was to go out and basically do something that you wouldn’t expect someone of your gender to do. Most girls did things like open the door for their boyfriends or pay for dinner, but I went out and told random men on the street to smile. I’m Southern and a manners stickler, but let me tell you that I never had so much fun being balls-out rude in my LIFE. You’d think I had actually said something like “Did you know your penis is very, very small?” They were just appalled. I wouldn’t ever ADVISE doing the same thing, of course…but if you should ever happen to try it, in the interest of SCHOLARSHIP, you know…
I recommend reading Sheelzebub’s whole post.
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