Throwback Thursday. I started complaining about smiling way before Covid. I’m still hoping the story of my lack of facial expressions makes you smile.
I imagine when you are part of an oppressed group for something beyond your choice like gender, race, culture, accent (or just being a ginger) it can be difficult to tell when oppression is part of the bullshit of being human or whether it’s a special kind of shit reserved just for you.
I can only imagine, because I got the golden ticket in the birth lottery: white male, educated upper-middle class family, richest country on earth, 20-21st century medicine and technology….
Life is hard for everyone, but it’s a lot fucking easier for people like me.
I try to feel some empathy… But let me just say when women accuse men of being sexist when they say “smile” — they lose me.
I’m talking about shit like Hilary and other politicians of the female appearance feeling oppressed by being told they must smile more:
Sorry ladies, men get that shit too. I don’t have a scientific study to show whether there’s a gender “gap” in the smile count. But I hear it enough that is pisses me off. (And that’s good enough data for the Bullshit Blog).
My workplace generally hires 4-5 college students a year. Almost all female. I never bother to learn their names. By the time I recognize their faces, they are gone and another group comes through the door.
And every week or month, most of those new kids will tell me something like: “You should smile more.”
I so badly want to just say: “Fuck you. ”
“Wait until your knees and back feel like bags of sand and marbles grinding against each other… Tell me you want to smile at someone who can run whenever she wants and get up from a chair without groaning… You ignorant, little, happy, piece of shit.”
But I don’t say that. That would not end well for any of us. I usually just grunt, and they giggle…
There’s no giggling in the office. Goddamnit. That’s some oppressive shit right there. Isn’t there an HR rule against giggling at a grown man?
But I don’t say anything about it. It’s like telling a kindergartener to stop asking questions… you just get more of what you don’t want. I want these fucking interns to stop putting their little hands over their tiny un-cracked faces like Japanese cartoon characters. Just looking at them funny, begets ever more giggling.
This smile shit is not limited to the young. I work in a female-run organization. The males are outnumbered 4-1. The “experienced” leaders in this organization pull that shit too.
“You know, people would feel better if you smiled more.”
Fortunately, I can just say: “I smile when I feel like smiling…” And that ends the conversation — until the next time they bring it up.
And it’s not just women. I used to teach 9th grade English. I was the only male teacher in my half of the building. My principal (Steve) called me in one day.
“The teachers are worried about you… You never smile,” he said. “They say you are very grumpy.”
A few days later, the Bear and I took the kids to Disneyland. She bought me a “Grumpy” hat.
I wore it to school every day.
But every once in a while, a teacher or a shitty little kid would ask me to smile… Read the fucking hat.
And it’s not just me. Most male politicians get made fun of because of their smiles.
“…Stephen Colbert derided candidate Mitt Romney’s half smile.
…Salon published a not even mildly good-humored attack on George W. Bush’s smile by the Guardian columnist Gary Kamiya, accusing him of having a “weird, canned, and completely inappropriate smile” like that of “an autistic beauty queen.”
… Daily Show made to mock John McCain’s smile.
Will Ferrell got good use out of his imitation of George W. Bush’s smirk.
… Jon Stewart ridiculed John Kerry’s smile.”
David Frum in the Atlantic.
So yeah, there’s a lot of scary and oppressive acts that men do just to women. But saying something about “smiles” is equal opportunity bullshit.
So let’s ignore the gender. Better for everyone to just look at each other and say:
If some douchebag-millennial-college girl or a kid said that to me, I’d think it was funny. Hell, I might even smile.