Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Face Value

So Hillary Clinton is doing brilliantly in the primaries but male commentators are falling all over themselves telling her to smile.

Oh. My. Word.

Enough with telling women to smile. "Look pleasant. Don't shout. Don't be so abrasive. You'll catch more flies with honey than with vinegar."


Women are asked to smile because smiling makes other people comfortable. And that's what women are supposed to do, right? Make other people comfortable. Any time we are not doing that, something must be wrong. Because making other people feel good is the prime directive of the female.

Don't agree? Neither do I.

Anthropologists studying the evolution of the smile from primates to humans have found that a smile can have multiple meanings. In fact, a smile signals different kinds of submission. In chimpanzees there is a "fear face" which is used by the weaker chimp to signal acknowledgement of the other's dominance. And there is a "play face" that says, "I am not a threat. Look, I am just playful!"

Smile, honey. Why don't you just smile? You'd look so pretty if you'd just smile.

Most women knows what happens if you don't smile.

Alright, be that way, bitch.

And it all comes down to that. Either you smile, or you're a bitch.

That's a very small world for women to live in. I'm amazed we even get out of bed in the morning, much less run for president. It is long past time for women to be allowed the full range of human emotions along with the accompanying facial expressions. Our faces should not be some kind of litmus test for acceptable success.

Acceptable success: what our society will allow women to achieve. Those words send a creepy shiver right through me. I have two daughters and the world I will leave them is nowhere near as equal as I thought it would be. It's 2016, a woman is successfully navigating a run for the presidency of the United States and all we can say is:

Smile, baby. Why don't you just smile?






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