Is this the most annoying thing a man can do to a woman?
This is right at the top of the list of female pet peeves
The temperature hovered around 90 degrees on a beautiful sunny day recently but that was nothing compared to my internal thermometer about three seconds after I heard this from a passing motorist.
"Smile" the man shouted from the window of his rusty old van.
With that one word my amiable Sunday-morning state of mind was lost in a mushroom cloud of stranger-hate. What crime did I commit to warrant attention from such a dolt (story of my life)? I was squinting in the sun.
Not surprisingly, I didn't feel like smiling for quite a while after the encounter. To be fair, I was busy mentally writing the screenplay for Saw 8 (one guess as to who Jigsaw's going to chain to a pipe in an industrial washroom this time?)
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I know I'm not the only woman who has experienced the "Smile!" phenomenon. Mention such an incident to any woman on the planet and prepare for a stream of obscenity-laden anecdotes and suggestive hand gestures.
In the top ten of female peeves it's right at the top. I'd rather hear a frat boy scream, "show me your t-ts" than have one more middle-aged nincompoop command I say cheese in precisely the same spirit of "fun" that a movie cowboy pulls out a gun and tells the town drunk to dance.
Weirdly, I've noticed these hyper-concerned male citizens aren't exactly smiling when they offer up their unsolicited advice. In fact, they look pretty serious about their desire to see the world's female population walk around with a goofy grin pasted on their faces.
Whenever a strange man does this to me, I'm always tempted to ask what the [insert favourite expletive here] it has to do with them whether I'm smiling or not? One recent study offers a clue.
Recently, researchers in B.C. showed both sexes a selection of photographs of the opposite sex. Interestingly, men showed a marked preference for smiling women over those miserable spinsters who couldn't even muster a freakin' smile for the camera. Why is a smiling woman so appealing to men? Because her grin implies friendliness and approachability. Go get her, tiger!
I can't help but wonder if it's that desire to see every woman behave as if she were ready, willing and able that's behind the old "Smile" edict. I also think that the kind of man who yells it out is labouring under the impression that it's a woman's job to try and look pretty at all times and when she doesn't he sees it as his civic duty to apply the corrective.
"Smile" isn't just a sexist demand - I've never heard one of my male friends complain that a strange man yelled "Hey buddy, won't you give me a smile ?" at them - it's a ridiculous one. In the smiling stakes, I'd say most women have men beat by a mile. More importantly, if women are supposed to look happy all the time (even when they're thinking or squinting) then I think it's only fair that these men be held to an equally impossible standard, for example, they could try to be smarter and more self-aware.
With that in mind, next time some yahoo says "Smile" I think I might reply "Read a book!" That or "you first, dipsh-t".
Has a stranger ever told you to smile? Does it bother you?
Information is current as of the original date of publication.
You know - whether or not people smile while walking down the street is one thing, and yelling "Smile!" out the window of a car is another. Yelling "Smile!" out the window of a car is not in any sense a pleasant or friendly interaction, nor is it a bit of useful or polite advice.
More: ordering total strangers to smile in public space is also not friendly or helpful. It's rude and intrusive. It's none of anybody's business what people are doing with their faces in public. Now if someone makes eye contact and makes a horrible face directly at a particular person, that might be worth questioning - but just walking around while not smiling? We get to do that. We get to do that without people shouting at us.
Godalmighty the comments on this are amazing.
First of all - shouting "smile!" out the window of a car is not the same thing as smiling at someone in a friendly way, nor is it a genuine friendly interaction.
Second - calling women bimbo, ****, tightly wound etc etc etc - not really the way to motivate women to smile more.
It seems many of you need to re-read this article. If you've never been harrassed (uninvited attention), shut up; you have no idea what you're talkingh about.
It is NOT a good feeling when people put their **** on you. These men who shout at women from moving vehicles are pathetic losers. Those of you who defend him are even worse.
Those of you who think this clearly intelligent woman is a ****, or bitter obviously don't know a thing about respectable human interaction. It is not okay to shout at a stranger; why is that such a hard concept?
You assume that attractive people should be grateful for any and all attention they recieve. Why? The grass always seems greener on the other side; learn some critical thinking skills and stop the knee-jerk judging, jerk. Your harsh judgements and comments about the author say much more about you than it does about her.
That man felt comfortable yelling at that woman from the safety of his vehicle. He used that opportunity to try and make himself feel like the big man, she was just the thing that he USED. But if she approached him in the street and asked him for the time, he'd probably pee his pants with nervousness and his feelings of inferiority.
I am one of those women whose lips automatically turn downwards into a pout. Although it can be annoying for men to ask me to smile, It does not really bother me. So what if 1 man out of 100 men tells me to smile. What bothers me is when my co-workers do it (especially one that is female). I mean, I'm in the middle of an important task or working with numbers or something and she comes up and says "Smile" (we're talking 3-4 times a day). Like -- what for?? I'm concentrating on what I'm doing. It would look rather stupid if I sat at my desk working with a fake smile plastered on my face.
The occasional man asking? Hey, no problem. Being constantly harassed by a co-working? Big problem.
I agree 200%. I am a 58 year old male and when I am out with male friends, acquaintances, or co-workers who do any of the following: stare at women, comment about how he could "do" her or not throw her "out of bed", or say things to passing women then I bail! I was at an outdoor pub in China recently having a totally interesting talk about American politics with some American, German, Canadian, and British engineers and senior management type dudes. A pretty Chinese woman walked past and they all stopped talking and stared, then continued debating after she went into a shop. I was embarrassed to be at the same table and I made my excuses and left. These are well-traveled and educated men!
51% of the population is not a sexual buffet and men are not the customers!
I am often walking in Asia and people drive by and shout "Helloooooo" because I am a foreigner, but they have no desire to meet me or talk. It's amusing to them and I hear them laughing as they drive on. OK, but this "smile" thing is different. It's more like women need to be constantly pleasant to look at, approachable, and available. That's stupid and I love this article! Cheers to the writer! Reply to these guys with either "Read a book" or "Tell your wife to smile".
Ughhhhh... This happens to me ALL the time! And I hate to say it, but it always seems to come out of the mouths of one particular ethnicity and age range (no I'm not revealing it).
I find this incredibly rude. What ever happened to "Hi. How are you? My name is __" Etc...
I'm not a circus monkey, you can't just bark out a command and expect me to respond!
I work in customer service and and understand the power of using a smile, but you can't expect a person to walk around with a smile plastered on your face all day long. Welcome to reality, we're not mannequins we are real human beings.
When this happens to me I am probably in a serious train of thought, and you've just snapped me out of it and I've now forgotten the important thing I was thinking about.
And furthermore, how do you know what's going on in my personal life?? I may have just had a death in the family, I may have just been fired, I may just be suffering from depression, I may have been awake ALL night studying/working. How rude of you to assume that everything is sunshine and rainbows.
All the replies on here seem to be coming from men and the general opinion I'm gathering is "Oh you must just be a b***" How about "Oh I'm sorry I had NO idea this upset you so much, I'll try and think of a different thing to say to get your attention" ?!?!?
Find me ONE man who has gotten a date using the "SMILE" line.
Two thoughts on this subject: 1) I don't think it's a sexist attempt at making sure all women are pretty and happy, 2) yeah, being told to smile (especially by complete strangers) is annoying. Telling someone what emotion to depict on their face is stupid. Try turning it around and see how dumb it sounds. "Frown" to someone smiling or staring blankly, minding their own business. The way the "smile" instruction is presented is usually intrusive and/or condescending. "You'd be so much prettier if you were just smiling", "you're so pretty when you smile" or in the author's case, someone yelling out the window at you.
On another note though, I don't think men realize how intrusive being yelled at from a passing car is. If you're not expecting it, it startles you, then you try to figure out what they were saying and if you can't figure it out, you wonder if it was threatening, what you did to deserve such treatment, or if you should feel humiliated. One of the scariest experiences is to be walking alone and have someone holler something indistinguishable at you as they drive by, then seeing their brake lights go on. Usually, they're just parking or turning but the whole time, you're waiting to see what that car is going to do before you proceed forward, wondering if a car load of men is going to come tumbling out of the car to gang rape you. It may seem silly that that's what goes through a woman's head when it happens but the type of person who yells things out windows at complete strangers isn't much above the type who would victimize a person. When you're the potential victim, it's a very threatening experience.
Has a stranger ever told you to smile? Does it bother you?
Ohhh yes, and oh yes.
[quoting from a post on my blog, link omitted because it won't let me post it]
I was walking along a residential street a few blocks from where I live (so I don’t know anyone there, I don’t recognize faces), mind elsewhere (though nowhere in particular) as usual, and suddenly some grizzled auld fella who was pottering in his garden snarled* at me as he crossed the sidewalk toward the parking strip, “What would it take to make you smile?”
I jerked to a stop and turned to stare at him in astonishment, and after mulling it for a few seconds demanded why on earth he would ask me that.
We had a nice little shouty war there on the sidewalk, for three or four or five minutes.
I won in the end.
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