The Problem With “Resting Bitch Face”

I recently read this blog post about the recent surfacing of the phrase “Resting Bitch Face,” or “RBF,” which is used to describe people whose faces naturally fall into intimidating and cold expressions when they are relaxed.

I say this describes “people” who are hard faced however what I really should have said is it describes women who are hard faced. Despite its widespread use I am yet to hear this expression used to describe a man.

I am constantly told I have RBF. When my face is relaxed I look irritated and unapproachable and those closest to me are not afraid to tell me so. Although I am a feminist, I hadn’t given much thought to the inherent sexism and double standards of the phrase before reading the aforementioned article. But now it seems glaringly obvious.

Firstly, let’s take the name “Resting Bitch Face”. Resting bastard face could have worked equally as well yet we opted for bitch face. Bitch.

I’m sure we are all aware by now that “bitch” is a negative term that tends to only be used to describe women, indicating that the phenomenon of RBF can also be linked specifically to women.

Can men get RBF? I guess not. I mean when a man’s natural expression makes him appear moody and intimidating this makes him more appealing to us, (think brooding and mysterious Heathcliffe or Rochester). People don’t assume he’s not a nice person. But me? I get asked whose murder I’m plotting.

One time over the recent festive period sticks out in my mind. It was Christmas Eve and I was lazing in front of the TV with some friends engrossed in whatever junk I was watching and digging into a massive tub of Ben and Jerry’s. Now it is rare I have this kind of downtime so I was absolutely in my element and the happiest I had ever probably been in a while. However, this internal joy clearly wasn’t reflected on my face as a few minutes into shovelling Peanut Butter Cup into my mouth my girlfriend told me I looked like a serial killer.

So, I may look unhappy when I’m caught off guard but seriously, I am not a Disney princess. I do not need to smile all the fricking time.

My point is that men do not have to smile all the time. They do not get asked if they are okay 10 million times a day. They do not get asked who just died. They do not get random people telling them it might not ever happen, or to smile.

Why are we expected to look physically appealing and attractive at all times? This is not something expected of men. Men are simply allowed to get on with their day. Men are not simply reduced to their physical appearance and treated like a little doll here to look nice.

The more I think about it, the more RBF seems to be yet another way to single out those women who do not conform to the feminine ideal that patriarchal society has constructed.

 

Image by Urban Dictionary.

5 Reasons We Should Stop Making PMT Jokes

This post follows a conversation I had earlier about people who crack jokes about PMT and women being on their periods simply because they have a mind of their own and disagree with something that has been said.

I hate these jokes. I could go on about them forever but, to summarise, I simply find them offensive, sexist, illogical and far from funny. In light of this I have compiled a list of 5 general reasons why I think we need to stop using these shitty jokes that belittle those women who dare to have opinions.

1. They are incredibly sexist. The entire premise of these jokes are formed on the basis that having a vagina makes women crazy. This is a notion that should have died alongside the concept of hysteria.

2. They don’t actually make sense. The majority of women experience changes in their hormones the week before their period. Hence the name “pre menstrual tension” with the “pre” part meaning before. Duh.

3. They aren’t funny. In fact they are now so overused they’ve become boring. Get some new material.

4. They aren’t very good comebacks and you should stop using them as such when you can’t find a valid point for the case you are trying to argue.

5. Following on from my last point, there is a high probability that the women you suspect might be menstruating actually aren’t and they’re only acting a certain way because you’re being a dick.

ALSO

For some reason the people who tell these jokes seem to think that only women have hormones. Men experience changes in their hormonal cycle up to five times per hour and are reportedly moodier and more aggressive during certain seasons, indicating that their testosterone levels alter in accordance to not just their own cycles but to environmental changes.

This means that, in actuality, men typically experience periods of unexplained moodiness, frustration and increased aggression more frequently than women do. Feel free to google this if you don’t believe me. I love science.

 

Image by Feral Godmother via Flickr under this Creative Commons License.

 

 

‘I couldn’t work with a woman. I’d rape her.’

I have a friend, (yes, just one). My friend works in an environment that is primarily dominated by men.

A lot of these men comfortably fit the stereotype of a lad’s lad in the sense that they enjoy a laugh and a bit of banter. However, many of them also fit this stereotype in the sense that they find it appropriate to sexualise pretty much every female that they meet.

Unfortunately for my friend, 99 percent of the time she is the only female around which means that she bears the brunt of their sexist behaviour.

I’m sure the majority of women have been in the position where they have found themselves the target of misogynist comments and behaviour. I for one find it infuriating and cannot imagine how frustrating it must for her to be in that situation all day every day.

Fully grown men who should, quite frankly, know better regularly make judgements based on her physical appearance and actually think it is acceptable to grab and touch her inappropriately.

Part of her working day involves not only having to listen to men make misogynist comments about her but also enduring customers slapping her bum with rulers and touching her in a sexualised manner.

This kind of behaviour regularly gets excused with the whole “boys will be boys” saying that people seem to think actually justifies this disgusting behaviour.

Other men and even some women attempt to trivialise this behaviour by claiming it is “just a laugh” when in reality, it is sexual harassment. A woman’s body is her own and she has the right to go a full day at work without being groped.

My friend regularly has comments made to her about her uniform with men suggesting she wear skin tight lycra or heels and miniskirts to reel in the customers. To hell with practicality and comfort as long as they have some wanking material, right?

Upon realising that my friend didn’t find his suggestion about her uniform funny, one customer decided to see just how far he could push her and told her that he could never work with a woman.

What was his reasoning for this, might you ask? Well, he said it was because he would rape her.

Yes you read that correctly. A fully grown adult man told my friend that he could never work with a woman because he would rape her in his van.

Just take a second to process that information.

Unfortunately, comments like this seem to be many people’s idea of a joke. I, along with many other women who oppose rape culture, get told that I cannot take a “harmless” joke. I get called a “bitch,” a “feminist,” or “crazy,” (all of which are true, by the way), because I call bullshit on misogynist opinions voiced by repulsive idiots who are trying to be funny.

Funnily enough, the people who crack these demeaning “jokes” and constantly treat women like slabs of meat tend to be the very people who argue feminism is no longer needed, because we’re equal now.

Jokes are funny. The violation of a woman’s body is not.

 

Image by Georgie Pauwels va Flickr under this Creative Commons License.

  • A special thanks to my anonymous friend for allowing me to use this story.

The Danish Girl

After months of waiting for its release, today I finally went to the cinema to watch The Danish Girl.

Although I was initially a little worried that the trailer gave away the plot of the entire film, I can honestly say that it didn’t and there were a couple of twists in the tale that I was not expecting.

Plot twists aside, The Danish Girl really is a beautiful film that explores gender identity in the 1920’s, a time period where the concept of being trapped in the wrong body, so to speak, was unheard of.

The Danish Girl is based on the book by David Ebershaff and tells the true story of Lili Elbe, a courageous and brave woman who pushed all known boundaries in order to externally become who she was internally. In doing so, Lili became a pioneer for the transgender community and a role model for us all when it comes to pursuing what we really want.

The film perfectly captures the confusion and distress experienced not just by transgender individuals but by those closest to them who struggle to accept these changes. For me, the most remarkable part of the film was Gerda’s unconditional love towards Lili and her heartbreaking realisation that her husband no longer existed was definitely the most touching.

This film explores LGBT issues and deals with raw emotion in such a way that we are taken on Lili’s journey alongside her and are able to become truly involved with her transition from male to female.

The confusion, heartbreak, strength and joy experienced by both Lili and Gerda at various stages result in an incredibly moving film that is sure to become iconic.

Image via The Danish Girl.