Back in the day--May, I think, before I came to realize how incredibly busy May and June were going to be for me--one of my funny, thoughtful friends asked me what I do when men on the street tell me to smile. She wanted a good feminist comeback. She wrote:
I've actually said once--this was in a bar, way back when, "it's not my job to smile for you." But that didn't have the impact I was looking for. The person followed up with "but you have such a pretty smile." Which, of course, he couldn't have possibly even known having never seen me smile....so annoying.
When I've talked to male friends about this--none of whom would ever say such a thing--they insist that the guy is just trying to "cheer me up." I've even gone so far as to speculate that I have a naturally turned-down mouth and it can look like I'm in a foul mood when I'm really not....but no, I don't think that's it because too many women have this same experience. And what stinks is that these men actually think they're being nice with this comment! Ugh.
If you do come up with any interesting comeback, let me know. And of course, feel free to blog about it.
Let me just assure you that this person doesn't walk around looking like she's in a foul mood. And she's right that many women have this experience.
Sadly, this is an area where I have little advice to offer. It may be that because I'm so tall, I get this sort of comment less often. And I'm such a Southern woman that sometimes when I do get told to smile, I smile! Damn training. I mean, I'm not opposed to smiling. But it is an annoying phenomenon that men in the world think that women should be smiling, and that they--the men in the world--have the right to encourage them to do so. It's a clear double standard. How often do women in the world walk around encouraging men they don't know to smile?
Perhaps that's what we should do: start asking men to smile for us. Although that strikes me as quite creepy. Okay, readers: if you have great responses, share them!