Men: Why You Have To Stop Telling Women To “Smile More”

June 19, 2018  |  
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Gettyimages.com/Portrait of a serious woman with dreadlocks crossing her arms

I don’t think there is anything a complete stranger—a male stranger—can say to me on the street that angers me the way, “Smile more!” does. Or, “Why aren’t you smiling?” or “You’re prettier when you smile.” The men who say this do not know how inherently sexist it is to approach a random woman on the street who they do not know and tell her to smile. In fact, the men who do this actually think they’re the ones who respect women—right, because you’re telling us how we should feel or at least how we should appear to feel. How respectful. I almost have more respect for men who just make offensive cat calls than the men who tell me to, “Smile, sweetheart!” At least the former don’t try to hide their gross sexism. Men: here is why you have to stop telling women to “Smile more.”

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Do you just walk around smiling?

So um, let me ask you something men: do you just walk around in your day, standing at a bus stop, waiting in line to buy gum, smiling? Do you do all of your activities with a big grin on your face like a game show host? No. Because you’d look like a psychopath. Think about that for one second before telling a woman, who is trying to get from point A to point B, to “Smile more.”

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And do people say you have resting b*tch face?

Here’s another question for the fellas: when you aren’t smiling, do people imply that you have resting b*tch face? Do they say you look mean? Do they criticize the way your face falls when you’re just trying to think and relax? Nope. People only do that to women. We can apparently either smile or have resting b*tch face. Wow. What evolved thinking…

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We actually feel different things at different times

So we actually have a range of emotions because we are humans (gasp!) That may come as a shocker to the types of men who tell women to smile more but, yup, we experience a broad spectrum of feelings every day and not all of them make us smile.

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We’re allowed to show how we feel

Now that we’ve established that women have all sorts of feelings, can we perhaps also allow for the fact that we have the right to let our faces reflect our feelings? So if we can’t possibly always be happy, then why should we possibly always be smiling?

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We don’t exist as something for you to look at

Usually the men who tell women to smile just believe that women are objects put on this earth for the visual enjoyment of men. And, since we’re more visually pleasing when we smile, these men think we aren’t doing our jobs when we don’t smile. Yeah, guess what—we aren’t here for you, dudes.

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Cheer your own damn self up

Another reason men tell us to smile more is that they believe women exist to comfort, uplift, and nurture men. If we are in the presence of men, we should be doing things that might comfort their bruised egos and delicate sensibilities—like smile. I mean, for all we know, the men we pass by may be having a hard day so, it’s our job as women to smile to cheer them up, right? WRONG! Men: cheer your own damn selves up.

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Also, who was talking to you?

Any time a man I do not know bothers me when I’m just trying to go about my day—whether he cat calls me or tells me to smile more—I can’t help but wonder, “Um…who was talking to you? Who asked you? Nobody. Because, clearly, the words that come out of your mouth are annoying so keep them to yourself unless they’re requested. And they weren’t.”

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We don’t aim to look pretty all the time

Newsflash: telling us that we should smile because we’re prettier when we smile doesn’t make this obnoxious comment any better. We actually don’t aim to look pretty all of the time. We would actually rather choose to have a facial expression that depicts how we’re really feeling than look pretty all of the time. Yup, we’re just weird like that.

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Maybe we’re going through some sh*t

Does it ever occur to you gentlemen that the woman you’re saying should smile more is coming from a funeral? Or just got fired? Or just learned that she has a terminal illness? Sometimes it isn’t appropriate to smile.

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It’s not our job to spread joy

When we feel so inclined to spread joy, we spread it. But it isn’t our job. It isn’t our duty. We can spread whatever the heck emotion we’re feeling that day and if it doesn’t involve a smile, we didn’t somehow slack off in our responsibilities (even though men seem to think we did).

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How about you ask how we are instead?

Rather than tell a woman who is frowning to, “Smile more” why don’t you ask her, oh, gee, I don’t know, why she looks so down? Or how she is doing? Oh no—you’d rather just bypass the whole part where you perhaps give her a reason to smile and just force her to smile. Cool.

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Men bother us enough even when we aren’t smiling (clearly)

So, I don’t know if you noticed but, men harass women plenty on the street even when we aren’t smiling (clearly, since you’re here, telling us to smile and harassing us). Since men feel so welcome to bother us even when we clearly don’t want to be bothered, can you imagine how much they’d harass us if we were smiling? No thanks.

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Perhaps we do not like you

Hate to break it to you (actually, I don’t mind) but, maybe the women who pass you aren’t smiling because they don’t like you. Maybe it’s your job to be more likeable and not their jobs to be more smiley.

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Can we just get to where we’re going?

For goodness sake, can a woman just go from point A to point B without being bothered? Can men accept that we probably aren’t in the mood or mindset or even time frame to be chatted with when we are walking rapidly down the street or paying for a coffee to go?

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Smiles aren’t free

Nobody owes you a smile, bro. If you want a woman to smile, give her a reason to. Make her laugh. Pay her a (non-creepy) compliment. We don’t have to pass out smiles for free.

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