A lot of stuff has been circulating recently about women who have spoken out about random men approaching them and telling them to “smile.”
I must confess that it made me quite happy to see other women sharing their views on it as I was starting to think I was the only one it annoyed.
I’m not naive enough to think I was the only person that it happened to but I was starting to question whether I was overreacting and just hating on men for making friendly remarks.
Like the women who have spoken out about this before me, I will make a point of saying that it only seems to be a small minority of men who engage in this bizarre activity and the vast amount of the male population probably aren’t even aware that this is a problem.
But it is.
Every woman has experienced it. One minute she is simply walking down the street completely lost in thoughts about what she could eat when she gets home and the next thing she knows she has been waylaid by a random man telling her to “smile.”
When this happens to me a few responses tend to run through my head, most of which include the word “fuck.” Who the hell are these men popping up out of nowhere telling women what to do with their faces?
I have received a few variations of this command. Some men simply tell me to just smile in general, others ask me to give them a smile and, infuriatingly, some talk about how smiling would make me prettier.
Newsflash: It isn’t my sole aim in life to be pretty. In fact, that isn’t actually an aim of mine at all.
For all these people know I could be on my way to a funeral yet they are still commenting on the fact I don’t walk around looking like Cinderella in her transformation photos.
We are not Disney princesses wandering around grinning in awe of the beauty of the world around us. We are human beings with our heads bowed trying to avoid the pentrating gaze and comments from random men who are, as usual, attempting to tell us what to do.
This woman hit the nail on the head for me when she stated:
“It may sound extreme, but it reminds me of a dog owner telling his pet to perform a trick.”
It seems that amidst various arguments about us having reached sexual equality and how there is no longer a need for feminism, women are still being treated like little dolls that exist solely for male pleasure.
Trying to extract a smile from us is a way of trying to regulate the physical appearance of women and, in my book, is just another way that men, (admittedly not all of them), have of trying to control the female body.