I’m sure at this point we’ve all seen the video depicting Shoshana Roberts walking around NYC and getting harassed by men who have nothing better to do than be assholes (if you haven’t, watch it now). There are different types of catcalling and some things bother me more than others – if the discussion ends at “God bless you” or “hello,” I don’t really care. Culturally, moving from DC to Dallas, it took a lot to get used to people interacting with me in a way that is genuinely pleasant (sometimes people actually just say “hello” in Dallas with no strings attached!) versus an indicator I’m about to be mugged or harassed. I am not bitching about pleasantries. I am bitching about smiling. Shocking, I know.
The video shows men doing and saying a variety of things, ranging from the mega creepy guy that follows her in silence to the guy that tells her to smile. When Roberts doesn’t smile, the command is repeated.
Telling someone to smile may or may not be classified as sexual harassment. I don’t know, and I’m not writing this to debate what sexual harassment is. I am writing this to let you know that telling a woman to smile is entirely offensive. Next time you have the urge to tell a sullen looking girl to smile, just smack yourself in the face instead. Maybe she has resting bitch face. Maybe she just found out she’s dying of cancer. Who knows! You sure as shit don’t, so don’t make any assumptions.
Are women as a gender so vapid and empty that we should walk around with goofy ass grins on our faces all of the time? What is it to you if we walk around looking normal instead of grinning or laughing hysterically? Oh, is my face not the landscape you wish it was? Well, fuck off. If I ever snap, I’ll probably carve a forever smile in some asshole stranger’s face after being commanded to smile like I’m a dog that does tricks.
What is the motivation for this? Is it a dominance thing? Do men who do it even realize what shits they’re being? I spent my teenage years and early 20s thinking I was crazy for being so offended by this, but it seems other people are coming around to my train of thought. I’d rather you call me a fucking cunt bitch as I walk past you on the street.
I walk a fine line, because my job is to be happy and perky. I understand when consumers say it to me as work, because resting bitch face isn’t a good look for a booth girl. But if I’m just buying some groceries, go away.
“Smile. You’re too pretty to look so sad.” Oh. Someone you find attractive isn’t allowed to have emotions? You sound like a great boyfriend. Where do I sign up?
“Smile. It’s not that serious.” This is when I like to tell them someone close to me just died/I have a a life threatening disease (it was really genuine and great when I had my ovarian cancer scare).
“Smile. What’s wrong with you?” Are you asking because you care? Because I could write you a novel.
“Oh, but they’re just being nice,” you say. “Those men are just making conversation.” Oh. Okay. Because being issued a command is so flattering. I definitely want to have a conversation with you now. I can’t wait for you to exert more control over me.
Ugh. Does anyone else have this pet peeve? Please say yes.