Demanding smiles

Posted in Dudes, Mysognistic Bullshit by Dizzy on July 2, 2007

Today I was informed by some tourist dickhead in a red convertible that I should be smiling because ‘it’s a good day.”  Yeah. Fuck you.

I don’t get it. Why do so many men feel it’s their responsibility to let women they pass on the street know that they should be smiling, just because they say so? How many times in the average man’s life have they been told to smile by a strange man? I would guess probably about the same number of times they’ve answered the phone and were greeted with a breathy masturbating voice telling them not to hang up until they say so.  

No, Mr. California, you’re not cute. Actually, I think you suck quite a lot. You have a good day on your vacation and I’m the one who has to smile? Why is that? You don’t know shit about my life and you have no right to tell me what to do with my face as I walk down the street. You don’t know what I’m thinking about, you don’t know what kind of trouble I’m in or what problem I’m trying to figure my way out of, and you don’t know that I’m not happy. 

Is it because, maybe just perhaps, girls aren’t supposed to be anything but pleasing and easy to the vacationing male gaze? Maybe because we’re not supposed to have the kinds of problems that can’t be easily forgotten by a nice walk on a sunny day? Or we’re not supposed to be thinking about anything too complicated, lest we appear remote or unapproachable to strange men?  Apparently women are supposed to be very simple creatures and are required to seem happy all the fucking time.  Our actual experience as human beings isn’t nearly as relevant to the world as how visually appealing we are. 

The messed up thing? I totally smiled when he said that. I was seething and offended, and I still smiled a little to satisfy him, just like I always do when they tell me to.  Yes, I’m ashamed of myself. 

And that’s my battle, right there.


11 Responses

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  1. Congolia said, on July 3, 2007 at 11:04 pm

    At the risk of incurring your wrath, I have to call bullshit.

    This is not just a woman’s issue, in my opinion. It is a nosy prick issue. I get that “Cheer Up,, Buddy” crap all the time. I have received it from both genders

    Trust me, they don’t get a flash of the pearly whites. They get, fuck you.

    I think seeing a frowning face makes people insecure, makes them wonder if perhaps there is a reason not to be so god-damned chipper.

    You got your feminism stuck in my misanthropy.

    Next time, spray him with mace.

  2. Dizzy said, on July 4, 2007 at 10:53 am


    Point taken. No wrath.

  3. Special K said, on August 12, 2007 at 5:07 pm

    Oh, I HATE being told to smile – it happened to me many times as a kid – being told to smile, hug, or kiss someone, and it STILL happens to me all the time, by random jackasses on the street. God help me if, like you, I find myself smiling on demand on occassion, but I’m working on my cold stare. (dig your blog…)

  4. Jodie said, on August 13, 2007 at 7:03 am

    Next time someone tells you this, tell him/her your grandma just died, or you’ve just been served with divorce papers, or your best friend’s house burned down, and don’t smile.

    Not only will that person feel bad, s/he will likely never, ever do it to anyone ever again, which will save some newly bereaved person down the road from having to listen to that crap.

  5. Ciccina said, on August 13, 2007 at 7:25 am

    Wow, you are my kind of people!

    I get the same thing. But lately I’ve started absentmindedly curling my lips into a smile, sort of as a defense, when I’m out and about. Unfortunately, the rest of my face doesn’t follow suit and the overall effect looks a bit deranged. Does cut down on the comments though.

    I actually had a (female) professor in my masters program tell me to smile once, adding in a creepy-chirpy voice “we don’t want any unhappy people in this class!” If I hadn’t thought it would affect my grade, I’d have busted out the pepper spray right then and there.

  6. Suniverse said, on August 15, 2007 at 9:11 am

    GAH! Did you get the, “You’re such a pretty thing, you should smile!”

    I hate that. HATE IT.

  7. anonymiss said, on August 15, 2007 at 2:40 pm


    To agree with Jodie, I’ve found the magic word is “cancer.” Just say “I have cancer!”

  8. Strata Chalup said, on August 17, 2007 at 11:35 am

    Love the comments! And definitely fighting the same fight, as I find myself smiling somewhat automatically in that situation.

    I’ve found a good way to say “NO” and make it stick is to say “No, but thanks very much!” in the same tone as I would if somebody had just done me some huge favor. I don’t have to LIKE that I can’t just say “No” the way a man would, but at least it works. It doesn’t give people a hook to argue back.

    I mention the explanation, because I *long* to have my reply to the “smile” thing be a big smile accompanied by “Hey, mind your own freakin’ business!” but I’m just not there yet with it.

    On the other hand, I could definitely say, “It’s hard to be happy when perfect strangers think they can tell you what to do.”

    Hmm. Maybe a reply of “Drop and give me 20, it’s a great day! (or whatever else they said)” would make the point.

  9. T said, on August 20, 2007 at 6:17 pm

    I read a conversation about this somewhere else — wish I could remember where — and someone came up with a great name for this sort of behavior: “mood ogling.”

  10. Carol said, on August 21, 2007 at 10:42 am

    I have one response to fools like that…”Why?” And if they actually answer that, then the “anniverssary of mom’s death” or suchlike gets trotted out.

  11. Clare said, on August 22, 2007 at 10:55 pm

    I’m fond of a good “No!” in a highly offended tone of voice, paired with a glare of some sort, but it’s hard not to automatically smile back.

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