“It is possible for a man to appreciate the form and face of a woman while simultaneously understanding her existence is not only for his viewing pleasure.”-Me
Throughout the entirety of my life I have been told countless times to, “smile,” by men. These are not men I know; they are total strangers to me. Most often this seems to occur while I am shopping at the grocery store. Apparently, I have what is known as ‘Resting Bitch Face.’ In general, I do not classify myself as an overly ‘bitchy’ (whatever that means) woman. I cannot recall a single instance in which I was told to smile where I was actually mad or upset about anything. In fact, I am usually thinking about what I need to do that day or what groceries I have left to shop for; in other words, mundane tasks. I don’t know anyone, man, woman, or child who smiles while thinking about their to-do list.
Last week, as I was hunting down my sixth item for Kroger’s ‘buy 6 save $3′ promotion, a man rushed by me and said, “Smile. Lookin’ all mean.” I paused and thought to myself, “Did that motherfucker really just say that to me?” Yes, the smile part was irritating enough, but to add, “lookin’ all mean,” in an aggressive manner? Oh, hell no! I wasn’t mad before, but I sure as shit was now. I turned and called after him (he was still rushing away), “Don’t tell me to smile… fucking dick.” I can’t say with absolutely certainty he heard me, but he never would meet my eye again, and we passed each other a few more times.
I tweeted about the exchange. I shared the tweet to my Instagram and Facebook stories.
The next morning, I woke up to this message from a man I ‘know.’ Apparently, he decided to lecture me (a full-grown adult woman) about my reaction to the man in the store.
Dude, are you fucking kidding me? I went out with this ‘man’ twice over 3 years ago (my husband and I were briefly ‘separated’), and he felt the need to chime in with his unsolicited opinion. Of course, I couldn’t let his asinine comment slide.
Not only did one man (a complete stranger) tell me what to do because my neutral expression made him feel some type of way, a man I know (barely) was so uncomfortable with my response to this complete stranger, he felt it was his right (or, duty) to lecture me on how I handled the situation. I can only assume, he has a problem with women sticking up for themselves when provoked. He blocked me after he read my response to his message. He blocked me before I could block him.
Women are people. We are allowed to walk around with a neutral expression on our faces. We are allowed to express our irritation at being told to smile by a complete stranger without our male “friends” telling us how we should feel about it.
I do not exist solely for a man’s viewing pleasure.
I will not be told how I should feel.