I was involved in an interesting conversation today via…….. Facebook. I know. I really need to stop, but the opportunity presents itself, I engage, and then here we are. I’ll try to make sure the recap of the conversation is accurate so you can make your judgments accordingly. Names have been extracted because that information is not pertinent.
Here we go.
A lady posted about her experience with a man telling her she should smile. I saw the post via a share from a FB friend, and began to read. She stated she was approached by a drunk man trying to hit on her using the “you should smile” line. She brushed this fellow off and took to Twitter to voice her experience. A Twitter troll (yes, he certainly was), retweeted her photo of an expletive towards people who tell her to smile. A sect of the twitter community roasted this lady real good to include a joke about rape (not a funny subject). The post went on to speak about how scared she was to retaliate/respond as she is using her real name and likeness via social media while her counterparts are not. She then stated this experience was rape culture. She spoke of how offensive it is for a man to tell a woman to smile, and relayed that the world is still misogynistic. She posted pictures of the offensive tweets to verify her story. People sailed in to comment with a flood of support.
I was confused.
I did not (and still don’t) understand who asking a woman to smile is offensive. So, I voiced my amazement about how something as simple as a smile can be parlayed into rape culture (what is rape culture anyway?). In classic Facebook fashion, I received defensive responses to include a response from her. She stated, and I quote…
When a man tells me to smile, it’s about gender. When a man tells you to smile, then it can be whatever you want it to be. Nobody gets to tell me what my experience is. Thanks.
That’s quite the gem right there. Basically, this lady told me every time a man tells her to smile, then he is being sexist because that’s how she views it. Since it’s “her experience” (I hate the experience card) no other perspective can be offered because…. it’s all about her. That’s kind of selfish. Sadly, there are THRONGS of women that agree with this line of thinking. Men are dangerous, physically imposing beings. They are crass and lewd. As such, women should be able to defend themselves from these creatures.
I read the good lot of comments on this post, and there were ladies flooding the post with “I HATE THAT!!” sentiments. There were even pages dedicated to why it’s wrong to ask a woman to smile. These women can offer plenty of instances when a man approached them in a despicable manner. Thus, potentially innocent things such as requesting a smile are seen in a negative light. Another quote from a comment on the post.
I hate when I am told by some random person, always a middle-aged or older man, to smile. What kind of idiot goes around smiling all the time for no reason? It is not my job to sit and look pretty for you!
Did I ask you to sit and look pretty? No. How dare people go around smiling these days. I mean why be happy? The nerve of it all!
Since when is it not okay to be concerned for a stranger? Have we fallen that far in society that men cannot be nice to women? Women, have men treated you that badly that you have to be fearful every time a man tries to interact with you? If so, then I apologize. Sincerely. I apologize on behalf of the dogs that have treated you wrong. However, let’s get one thing straight.
I’m. Not. Them.
Let that sink in. If I compliment you, then it means I appreciate something about you. As a person. Not because you are a woman. No, I don’t want you. I don’t want your number. I might not even want a conversation outside of my compliment. I may not even be attracted to you. It’s called being a gentleman. Wild, huh? If I ask you to smile, then know that I am asking if everything is okay even if I don’t know you. It’s more than okay to care for a stranger.
Because of this conversation, I paid special attention to my interactions with women today. I had a meeting, and one of the women was wearing a nice skirt. I liked the pattern. I was going to compliment her, but I hung fire. Finally, I decided that this feminist rant was not going to stop me from being a gentleman. I gave the compliment, and the lady’s face lit up. It’s okay to be a nice person.
Another quote from the comments section.
Women are expected to be poised and smiling at all times as a trophy with no intelligence and no feelings simply for men to look at. The concept of a lady has been forced upon us. Meanwhile men freely express their anger, frustration, opinions, and wear them on their faces. God forbid a woman have an opinion or a straight face because that’s apparently not what we’re on this planet for. Every time in the past when a stranger or someone I just met tells me to smile, it puts a permanent scowl on my face. As if I’m not entitled to be serious or express what I’m feeling by wearing it on my own body.
How sad is that? This lady feels like every woman has been told to be a trophy wife smiling in the window. I don’t know a woman alive that has not worn some type of emotion on their face. THEY ARE HUMAN!! We tend to do that. Yes, we. Men and Women. Now, I won’t deny that there are different standards for women. I won’t even deny that there is still a long ways to go in terms of gender equality. There are some things that women can do better than me. There’s somethings women know that I don’t. I wholeheartedly accept that. However, I know WAAAAAAAAAY too many women that shatter the trophy wife stereotype.
Let’s start with my mother and grandmother.
These are two of THE strongest women I know. The stories I could tell of their lives, and circumstances they’ve endured would bring tears to eyes. They taught me to treat women with respect. They didn’t take any mess, but they handled situations with class, dignity, and strength. I don’t want to compare one struggle to another. I will say, it’s all in how you handle the circumstances. Posting a picture on Twitter with expletives towards men because one asked you to smile does not equal strength. It screams insecurity, and invites trolls to your doorstep. Grouping a sect of people under one auspices is irresponsible whether it’s race or gender. All men are not filthy animals. There are more gentlemen out there than you know.
Think about that next time you consider asking for a smile a dangerous request.