This Morning a Man Told Me to Smile...

Comments

1
Either smile or tell him to fuck himself. Don't perpetuate the Seattle Freeze. If it's your husband, ignoring him is standard ops for the ladies.
2
Quirky random old dudes are a thing that your city should NOT have! Put an end to this! Definitely don't shrug it off or let anything distract you from rummaging for your keys.

Also his remark was probably definitely an affront to your humanity and individuality as a woman, you should perceive it as nothing less. GET MAD!!
3
A guy did this to me recently as I passed him on a sidewalk, and I was so thrown that I actually did smile a little. Then he frowned and said "No, that looks fake."
4
fuck those creep assholes

don't give them the satisfaction of any kind of response -- please
5
I get comments like that all the time.
One that was particularly memorable was when I was on the escalator at the downtown library. I was thinking about what I was going to have for lunch when a guy passed me going up and said, "You'd be pretty if you smiled."
He was gone in a second because we were passing each other, but it made me feel pretty angry. That attitude just makes me want to scowl more to make sure only people I deem worthy get to see my amazing smile.
6
Oh, god. I don't even want to see the array of comments about how dude meant no harm, feminists are crazy, yadda yadda. You people don't get it. It's basically a command to play cute for a random guy. Hard to imagine a random street guy telling another man to smile? There's a reason for that. Fume.
7
Seattlites sure are grouchy.

In some countries, having snow and cherry blossoms at the same time is a Good Thing.
8
I tell them my dog just died. I've never had a dog, but they don't know that. Women never tell women to smile, it's purely a guy thing. I hate it.
9
@3 - ha! @5 - exactly. I can't believe men still say these things to women. It's so grossly presumptive.
10
What a ridiculous thing to get upset about. Honestly.
11
Tell him to fuck off. Pretty simple solution.
12
@10 Is it that ridiculous, though?

My face is not WASTED for not smiling on command for a complete stranger.

Also, @1, it's not my responsibility to react in any way in order to avoid perpetuating an entire city's alleged reputation.
13
@12, we're all responsible. More barking, less whining. I flipped some chick off in Wallingford when she would let me pull out of my parking spot at no personal cost to her. She went screaming by yelling and flipping me off. We need more of that honesty.
14
I also find it presumptive and offensive (and it's always the creepiest guys who say it, too). If it's someone I know, I usually just say not smiling is part of my wrinkle-prevention regimen.
15
Megan dear, If you don't want to smile, don't smile. It's as simple as that.

Although I would smile. It doesn't cost anything, and maybe he needed someone to smile at him.
16
If you were packing heat, this wouldn't have happened. Because he's be dead.
17
@13 you're my new hero
18
A woman recently told me to smile (and I did). So there.
19
@7 Nailed it. I don't take orders from random dudes. I'll smile when I damn well feel it. I AM NOT YOUR MONKEY.

I'm a friendly person. I smile at strangers all the time, but I don't have the arrogance to demand that they smile back.
20
Shit, @6 - Nailed it. @7 - Suck it.
21
It must be tricky to get through each day when every interaction is forcibly turned into a power struggle.

He was just trying to compliment you. He did not literally mean your face is a waste unless you are smiling. All he did was call you pretty. You brought all the drama.

I love how people say the Seattle Freeze is not real when I read things like this. This could not be more passive aggressive.
22
I just found out I'm HIV positive, have three different cancers that are eating my body alive, I'm getting evicted from my home and I just ran out of my unemployment benefits.

Yeah...sure let's smile to keep the street crazies happy. They can fuck off!!
23
Don't tell strangers what they should/shouldn't do with their face.

The end.
24
@19, I like your style. If someone yelled, "I'm not your monkey" at me, it would make my month. No one has the right to tell you to be happy. They don't know shit about you. I always figure there is something heavy going on.

On the other hand, riding my ass in your car while texting, is a signal you are self prick who is willing to kill me on my Vespa so you can tack 30 seconds on your 4 hour coffee at Zoka. Fuck you.
25
@23, why don't you try saying that? That would be honest, and you wouldn't have to spend two hours at work finding a funny cat video to get your equilibrium back.
26
Smiling is a form of subservience. It's why poor people are more likely to smile than rich people. They feel they must seek the approval of others, while rich people do not. Men who tell women to smile are informing women that we are subservient to them.

In short, go fuck yourself @1, 2, 10, and 21.
27
I work with the public for a living. I get paid to smile. Hours and hours of smiling at people even when they are hideous, rude, vile beings. When I'm off the clock and finaly alone with my thoughts you need to be truly loved by me or have a 20 dollar bill or a cocktail in your hand if you're asking me to smile for you.
28
@26: Yes.
29
@25 I have, actually. That also ended badly.

Look, I wrote about that, too!

http://slog.thestranger.com/slog/archive…

He was also mad about the Seattle freeze and took it out on me, a person who regularly interacts with strangers who aren't so bossy about when I should and shouldn't interact with strangers.

Also, it's a DOG video. And it was in my inbox when I got to work (thanks Alithea!) and I don't mind spending two hours of my day watching cat videos anyway, so I'm not sure why looking for one would be a bad thing. Cat's are hilarious.
30
"Show me your Dick" always shuts em up. Yay for cute puppies!
31
"less barking, more wagging" he barked. Nicely.

Seattle -- where they think instructing others to smile is a legit form of social interaction.

Then when someone else who doesn't like it, doesn't speak up and instead blogs about it.

Then everyone discusses it at a safe distance.

32
Bumper sticker in Hawaii: Smile, it no broke you face
33
It's a condescending way to act toward someone you don't know. Women get creeped out and upset when random men say stuff like this, and I don't blame them one bit.

If you want to engage a complete stranger, just smile and say hello to them! Walking up and giving advice to a random person on the street isn't exactly friendly. Unless you're stopping them from walking in front of a moving bus or something.
34
I'm w/ Megan. It's more of a situational thing. I once had a sweet, grandfatherly gent on an elevator try to cheer me up when I was having a non great day. & he was fine. But I've also had a guy follow me for almost a block, cajoling me to "oh, come honey, one little smile!" the whole time.

It's controlling & can be creepy, OR, if one's mood is flexible & you're inclined to be charmed, you can smile back, & it's nice. Unfortunately more often it's kinda creepy..who then goes on to comment about how yer "wasting" your face? WTH?
35
And maybe just a little humble brag? You got to tell us that you are pretty ...
36
@26: Smiling is only a sign of subservience if you are an uncivilized ape, or inject every social interaction with your own emotional baggage.

I guess when the president smiles on a crowd he is speaking to, he is just bowing down and being subservient to them. After all, there is no way it could mean anything else.
37
Sorry, all I could think of when I read this was this.
38
Anybody who tells another human to smile is a fucking creep with no social skills looking for cheap eye-contact and a leer. If you want to see smiles all the time, become a clown.
39
@30

Brilliant! Maybe add something so you get this: "Show me your dick and I'll laugh."
40
@34..agree. If guy is attractive and does this= sweet. If creepy=harassment
41
I'm with the folks that believe it's creepy for a guy to command a woman to smile and expect her to comply.

You wanna make someone smile? You earn it (maybe) by doing something nice. Like holding an elevator door.

For everyone, not just the cute girls. And you don't get bent outta shape if the other person doesn't smile, either. You don't know what may be going on in their life at the moment. Suck it up and move on, guys.
42
It is creepy, intrusive, and sexist. Period. Women do not exist to smile for men. Women's faces are not "wasted" if they are perceived as "pretty" but unsmiling. Other people do not exist to smile at me, and I do not exist to tell them how their faces ought to look. That guy deserved a hearty slap, but you were wise to simply not react and not interact. I HATE to be told to smile. Even by a loved one. It's no one's business what my mouth and cheeks are doing.
43
Meh. Neither Unwanted Attention Guy nor Megan emerge from this story as particularly likable human beings.
44
Ii's kind of funny there are guys in this thread telling Megan how to feel about a guy telling her what to do, without the slightest hint of irony.
45
*It's
46
@20 like I said, you're just grouchy. Other people live in climates like this and don't behave like you do.

Get over yourself.
47
@36,

No, if you're an uncivilized ape, then smiling is a form of aggression, dumbass.

If someone commanded Obama to smile for them, what would the implication be? That they just wanted him to act happy or that they wanted him to step and fetch it?
48
@27,

Studies have shown that people who have to act happy at work (largely in customer service) get completely burned out at the end of the day. No one should have to be "on" at all hours of every day.

It's especially frustrating to deal with this kind of attitude in a city where it's often impossible not to be surrounded by people, even if you're tired, sad, angry, or whatever. Why is it so difficult to just leave strangers the hell alone?
49
It's a control thing. I've only heard men saying this to women, and I bet they think they're doing something nice and engaging with you. On a primitive level, they're telling you how to be and what to do.
50
Wow, espec @ 26. I get that random stranger telling you to smile being creepy/annoying/obnoxious. At the same time, some of the venom from some of the people here..just wow. You should try reading Being Peace (http://www.amazon.com/Being-Peace-Thich-…). A smile, yes, even to a random, undeserving stranger, can be beautiful thing that makes the world a better place. To label it as subservient...I hope you become able to see your life in a more positive hopeful manner than your words indicate you do now.
51
Assuming you haven't been asked by passers-by to take their picture, it's sexist and creepy as fuck to command someone to smile.

It may not seem like a big deal if you haven't experienced it yourself, but take it from somewhere who's been there many, many times: it's not cute and it's not sweet; it's a power play. You don't see men telling other men to smile, do you? Can you imagine? "Hey bro ... smile!" "Dude, you'd so much cuter if you smiled!"

However, one of the benefits of getting older is that men are a lot more concerned about the facial expressions of fresh young women than haggard middle-aged ladies. As a grumpy teenager, I was told to smile at least once a week. Now that I'm a grumpy lady pushing 40, it happens maybe once a year.
52
There's a guy with a "Smile" sign always outside the Starbucks on 1st & Madison. He's been harassing the passers-by there for years. I & others I know of have crossed the street to avoid him. It's fucking creepy. Glad I'm not the only 1 who thinks so.
53
@50 We're not talking about smiling at a stranger because you're radiating inner peace or whatnot. There's nothing subservient about smiling because you're in a good mood. We're talking about a stranger telling you what to do with your body. It may seem innocuous, but trust me, after fifth or thirtieth or hundredth time a stranger decides they're entitled to comment on your appearance and tell you what to do with your face, you'd be pissed too. But that doesn't mean I'm a bitter hag. Believe or not, just because I get angry about something doesn't mean I don't "see [my} live in a positive and hopeful manner."
54
@51 well said!

My mind is constantly blown by people who refuse to see how it's inappropriate to pull that shit with strangers.

You don't get to tell me what to do with my body, any parts of it. And you don't get to force me into having an interaction with you that I don't want to have. WHAT is so hard about understanding these two things?
55
Is that puppy ok? There is something wrong with that puppy!!!
56
@ 19, I recently used that exact phrase in a confrontational situation. It is now my go-to line along with "I'm not your goddamned sock puppet".

If you want other people to smile, smile at them first and say something nice but not creepy such as "good morning" or "that is a totally rad sweater" or "wow you have a cool dog". Does not always work but then again I don't really give a shit if people smile back most of the time.
57
Seriously that puppy fell over...
58
@53 thanks. yeah, and as an aries who is awful at taking orders from anyone, I can appreciate that more. thanks..
59
@20 When I told you to suck it, I meant it in the sweetest way possible, and I had a big ol' smile on my face, so buck up little sailor - no one is grouchy on your watch.
60
Ah hell, @46, not @20. Suck it, me.
61
@ 41 - EXACTLY so. This point's been made, but, when someone wants you to smile & says: "good morning!" or "nice day!" or "cool tee-shirt!" - or just smiles themselves - I'm a lot more likely to smile back. I just don't wanna be your dancing (smile) monkey.

My FB pals had a lot to say on this matter - link! - https://www.facebook.com/eva.hopkins.18/…
62
Why use muscles when less means more
People who frown are just a bore
The sun's my father and I'm its child
The whole world's richer when you . . . smile!
63
@29, saying 'hi' is not that big a deal. I get the sense people on here are defensive because they have been criticized for not being able to interact socially as normal do. [I'm looking at you keshmeshi or whatever it is]Smiling and saying 'hi' is normal Seattle, and people do it with total strangers in other cities.

64
@34 for Best Depiction Of Situational Smile Requests win.

Although I still think it would be fun if there actually were smiling dancing monkeys cavorting on the streets.
65
And you're all a bunch of unsmiling sourpusses (male and female) around here, just saying.
66
The guy is a dick. He has no right to ask you to smile, let alone put you down because you don't feel like smiling. He is a rude jerk.

Cute puppy, though. Now that made me smile.
67
I'm glad I don't have to deal with this sort of crapola.
68
The rage that I and many women feel when a man tells us to "Smile!" has nothing to do with Seattle. I lived in sunny California in my 20's, and I had the "Smile" thing happen to me a number of times. I was kind of shy, so my usual reaction was merely to glare, and then wish I'd been brave enough to say, "Fuck off!"

And I'm the kind of person who does smile at strangers on the street pretty often. But being told to by a man is a whole other thing; it's like he thinks he owns you.

Being free of that bullshit is one perk of middle age.
69
Best response to that trite comment "I don't smile for ugly people. Piss off". They always do.
70
@50,

Fuck off.

@63,

You too, asshole.

FYI, to both of you. Women in New York City hate your creepy, misogynistic bullshit just as much as women in Seattle do.
71
Oh and #21 go fuck yourself. What a stupid thing to say.
72
MY INTENT WHEN I AM LOOKING FOR MY KEYS IS NOT TO BE SOMETHING CUTE FOR YOU TO LOOK AT.

MY INTENT IS TO FIND MY FUCKING KEYS.
73
This isn't about being happy. A stranger can't tell you to smile and suddenly a dried husk of a heart awakens begins to beat with joy. It's about presumption and control, whether the guy realized it or not.

And fer christsakes, it's not about the Seattle freeze. Your griping isn't relevant to this discussion. Talk about projecting issues.
74
Yeah, I've gotten this everywhere I've lived in this huge country.
I'm a happy, peaceful person and this sort of shit scares me and makes me angry. And if you put up a little resistance, you're often met with a string of defensive verbal abuse (so I usually remain silent, Like Megan did).
75
My reaction is usually a quizzical look, the same as I would give a shirtless guy singing off-key while juggling raw chicken breasts. Both behaviors are equally acceptable.

I make chit-chat and smile all the time. But NOT on command.
76
Stop Telling Women To Smile: http://fazstreetart.tumblr.com/
77
@51, I don't even tell people who ask me to take their picture to smile. I just say, "okay, on three..." It's their picture, they can do whatever they want in it. And I get asked to take pictures a LOT. I spend several hours a week in the vicinity of some of DC's most popular attractions, and I guess I look like I won't steal their camera/cellphone. I also own a professional-caliber camera, so I'm a target for the request when I'm on vacation (protip: sure, I can frame a shot and tweak whatever settings you have, but really a picture depends A LOT on how good your equipment is...if you want great pictures then do spend some money on a decent camera - doesn't have to be professional, there are some models in the neighborhood of $100 that do a decent job and many in the $500 range that you can take framing-quality shots with...sensor size is more important than megapixels, once you get to about 8, to start).

If you feel the need to "brighten someone's day," YOU smile at THEM. Or hold the door. Or give them a bag of peanut M&Ms. Commanding them to be happy - or at least look the part - for your enjoyment is creepy and rude.
78
@ 63 First you say I should either smile or say "go fuck yourself."

When I point out that, in the past, I have smiled and it wasn't enough, then you say I should also say "hi" because it's not that big of deal to just say hi.

But I thought I could just smile?

How about you stop telling me what I should've done (because it clearly will never be correct) and recognize that the point is no one should tell another person what to do with their face. My reaction (or lack of) isn't the problem.
79
I have a friend whose natural relaxed face tends to look just a tiny bit frowny. If she is deep in thought, strangers will comment to her about looking angry. Its rude and it hurts her feelings. Megan is right on. Nobody has the right to tell complete strangers what to do with their facial expressions.
80
I can see how this would be very annoying, and sounds surprisingly common from the comments.

Who are all the guys using this stupid line?
81
@78, I thought @34 had the balance right. Sorry to be inconsistent.

Keshmeshi, lots of anger. I've lived in New York for many years, and you definitely do not speak for the women of New York. You should work on your social awkwardness.
82
What don't you shit piles get about the fact that when men tell a women to smile because she'd be more attractive you are basically saying that her value to you and society at large is predicated on her looks and that is objectifying?

Also Will in Seattle is a shit for brains and Theodore Gorath sucks shit water with a flavor straw.
83
@63
Saying hi is a big deal if you are an introvert. Saying anything at all to a stranger is a big deal if you are an introvert. Have a little respect for the variety of human experience. Would you tell a person in a wheelchair it was "no big deal" to go up a flight of stairs?
84
@82, no doubt some people are creepy, and some might have outdated views on a woman's worth. Some people might just be making a misguided attempt to be friendly, and maybe it's worth keeping an open mind. As @34 said, sometimes human interaction can be pleasant.
85
I've always found "it's my face and I'll do as I please with it, sir" to be a helpful phrase, but I like "I'm not your fucking monkey" a lot, too. Usually the over-70s get a pass.
86
@biffp - how you could tell social awkwardness from an internet thread is beyond me, but you can stop. Keshmeshi is amazing.

@ McGee - spot on.
87
@biffp and all the other dudes chiming in here: are you either female or perceived as female by men on the street? No? Then shut the fuck up. Period.
88
@86, I think it's more reasonable to divine awkwardness in a post than to claim 5.5 million people hate you because you suggested maybe keeping an open mind and being a little friendlier (men and women).
89
@87, I have been perceived as a woman on the street. Used to have a pony tail half-way down my back.
90
And were you asked to smile, biffp, like I was on the way home today? I'm guessing not. Get told to smile a dozen times and you'll want to put your fist through someone's teeth.

Confidential to panhandler at Dick's this afternoon: I can take you in a fair fight. And I will. Don't ever tell me to smile again.
91
It looks like quite a few on this thread have used that "Smile" line before, and they simply cannot conceive they were being demanding, controlling assholes when doing so. I mean, really, it's pretty fucking easy to grasp. You may think of it as a compliment or an icebreaker or a harmless bit of casual friendliness, but what it really is is you saying, "Look at me. Pay attention to me. Please me." Well, guess what, bub. Not everyone exists for your pleasure.

I used to get that shit in my gay bar-haunting days, and I usually responded with a nasty glare or a "Fuck off!" But then, I was a big (unsmiling) GUY, so I seldom had to worry about any pushback. So, at most, it was an annoyance to me. For many, though, it's not only annoying but uncomfortable or creepy or even frightening.

Grow some fucking empathy.
92
@ 83, you're describing shyness, not introversion. I'm introverted, and although I was once shy I'm not any longer.
93
@89 Try again, asshole.
94
@93, yeah, fuck you asshole.
95
@72 Says,

MY INTENT WHEN I AM LOOKING FOR MY KEYS IS NOT TO BE SOMETHING CUTE FOR YOU TO LOOK AT.

MY INTENT IS TO FIND MY FUCKING KEYS.
96
@biffp, I get mistaken for a woman in the street or in shops and restaurants fairly regularly because I have sternum-length, well-kept hair. I don't know shit about what it is to experience the world as a woman, and neither do you. The only way you could possibly begin to understand the shape of the world for women is to LISTEN TO WOMEN. If you haven't noticed, most of the women in this thread are calling you an ass!

Incidentally, I can't think of a single woman with whom I interact with on a daily basis here in New York who would be happy with being commanded to smile by some schmuck on the street. But maybe because they are whiny misandrist Feminists their opinions don't represent those of the Real Women of New York whose thoughts you have privileged access to.
97
I ignore schmucks on the street who try to talk to me, and don't give them a second thought.
98
I'm amused at all the fuck-yous that have flown around in this thread about smiling. Such passion about a seemingly minor issue! I would expect this in one of Goldy's gun posts, but not in a relatively trivial one about smiling.

But anyways. My two cents: I'm a young straight guy, more boyish than butch, you could say, and I've had people telling me to smile, both men and women, and I've never liked it. Not once. Even when they drag out that old trope that it takes more muscles to frown blah blah. It's so much crap. (Really!) And I can definitely see how it could be seen as an issue of control, although I never thought of it that way. Most of the people who've told me to "Smile!" have been controlling bosses. And I think, I'm fine. I'm not upset. I'm just standing here. Whatever problem there may be is not because I'm not fricking smiling. In this sense, it's another way of placing all the blame or responsibility on you. "The problem is that you don't smile! Smile and everything will then be fine!"

Fuck you.

Ooops. There you go.

I can see how people would interpret this as an issue of subservience and control. Really. Don't tell me to smile. It truly is annoying as hell. It's a really quick way to get on my crap list. I receive it as something very opposite to friendliness.
99
Yeah, "Megan dear," (@15), "It must be tricky to get through each day when every interaction is forcibly turned into a power struggle." (@21).

1. infantilzation: "dear." no thanks and fuck off.

2. it actually is fuckin' "tricky to get through each day when every interaction is forcibly turned into a power struggle,"

(talk about revealing your deeply entrenched privilege as a (dare I assume white?) cock-human) and you know who turns every interaction into a power struggle? every fuckin' dude I, as a cunt-human, interact with, be it my brother, my dad, a friend, a coworker, some rando I just met, or an intimate partner because they all EXPECT "women to be deferential" (as another cock-human helpfully explicated in another recent rape culture related SLOG post comment thread.)

It's not only "tricky" but completely and utterly tiresome.

@26 exactly: "Men who tell women to smile are informing women that we are subservient to them."

@40 "If guy is attractive and does this= sweet. If creepy=harassment."
No. I don't care who the fuck you are or how pretty you are, a controlling entitled douche is a controlling entitled douche.

@44 "It's kind of funny there are guys in this thread telling Megan how to feel about a guy telling her what to do, without the slightest hint of irony."
Lol, right? It'd be funny if it weren't so tedious and done.

@49 tells it like it is:
"It's a control thing. I've only heard men saying this to women, and I bet they think they're doing something nice and engaging with you. On a primitive level, they're telling you how to be and what to do."
And, I'll add, assuming you are misogynist-compliant. I relish the unsuspecting schmucks who try to pull this caveman BS with me--it's like knowing a language others don't know you understand and surprising them with your fluency when they least expect it. Although, it can be hard to truly enjoy these moments when the entitled cocks have no feminist frame of reference, so the intellectual knee-to-testes blows go way above their glans.

@68 yes! this particular stranger interaction (random man demands random (girl/young)woman to smile) is not related to The Seattle Freeze nor is it isolated to the PNW. I've had men on the street in different cities on different continents tell me to smile. It is about control and the publc entitlement of men to comment on and to control women's bodies. It is an intimidation technique: remember your place, cunt! you exist to please cocks, don't forget it. We sure won't let you!

wank wank gush!
so much suffering the world over just because dudes would rather involve others (women and/or young humans) in their desperate need to ejaculate on or in some other.separate.individual.sentient.being.
Pssha, that's not about control at all!
100
So, it's an American thing, for males to go asking unknown females to smile to them ?

If it's such a regular occurence, I get that swearing first comes to mind, but couldn't a stupid offensive moment be turned into something more positive - like asking the guy right back to "try to earn it", as in "why don't you do something nice/funny that'll make me smile" ?

Or ask back for a specific task, on the order of stupidity as "smile", like "move your ears !", "lick your nose !", "give me your best face !" - and if they ask why, "you'll be so much funnier if you did !"

Or, even "smile first !" and then you're the one who'll get to say that their smile is too strained, not genuine enough.

I don't know if that would be practical, because that doesn't stop dead the interaction, but why not ask them right back to be our monkeys - and maybe they'll indeed do something of some value, and both will feel better for the interaction ? And if they don't succeed in the task we've assigned - and we're the ones getting to decide whether they succeeded or not - wouldn't they be the ones being bothered by it for the rest of the day ?