Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Shouting Back

I keep struggling to concentrate. This morning, I have been trying to get into my law school work but can't stop thinking about an annoying incident that happened on my way back from the hospital today.

I was walking home, with my coat hood up and was just focussing on getting back. Not looking around at other people, just keeping myself to myself. A relatively young man who has never seen, or met, or spoken to me before, grunted "Smile - it can't be that bad", almost under his breath as if he was passing judgement, but definitely had the intention of me hearing it.

Now, I recognise that this is pretty much an everyday occurrence and indeed that wasn't the first time such a comment has been made to me, but that is precisely my problem with it - why is it anybody else's business? If my natural, neutral expression is a frown or just miserable, that is quite frankly tough luck for anybody who chooses to look at my face. I wasn't deep in thought when the comment was made, I wasn't thinking about anything other than the fact that I had just seen six magpies, I was just walking home, minding my own business.

What does it even matter what I was thinking or feeling? I didn't even look at the man who decided it was his place to tell me how my outward appearance was unsatisfactory. What does somebody who makes a comment like that seek to get out of it? Is it a deep-set feeling that they have to have power over everything they see? When walking down the street, girls should not have to worry about being harassed for their facial expression. I resent the expectation that seems to exist that women should look cheerful for the sake of men.

Aside from the fact that it is yet another form of hassle that girls are subjected to for literally no reason, I think it is just plain rude. This man, a complete stranger, has decided that in the two seconds that he glanced at me, that anything that I was potentially upset about was not worth it. He doesn't know anything about me! That just speaks for itself, doesn't it?

Whereas before I would have probably just ignored comments like that, this time I just told him to be quiet which I hope threw him off track a little. I doubt people who make comments like this to people on the street expect any retaliation but I think it is time that we started to shout back. It is for this reason, I am so grateful that the Everyday Sexism project exists. It has given me the confidence to stand up for myself, knowing that actually that that's the right thing to do and that I am not alone in finding this type of behaviour offensive.
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  1. I totally agree with you! It really annoys me when people say that when you walk past. Or when random men find it appropriate to whistle and shout across the street asking you for a date! Erm, no thank you. It's just totally inappropriate and rude! xx

  2. I hate it when people do this. My friend who lost her bf in a car accident had the exact same thing happen to her. She told him exactly why life wasn't so rosy. He looked embarrassed and stupid. I think she actually quite enjoyed venting :P

    On a positive note, I like your blog! Glad you left a comment on mine :)

    Jenny | sunny sweet pea xx

  3. this happened to me the other day when i was stuck in a long bar queue and the barman said to me "smile! it's not that bad is it?" and i laughed him off and said i was tired, even though i was a little put out cus i was in a bar queue, i just wanted a drink and i don't understand why i had to smile my way through that process. i shrugged it all off but when i left the queue my best friend turned to me and said "i don't understand why so many blokes say that to women, i don't know why he thinks it's any of his business what you're doing with your face". i think it's such a hard one, because i also resent the idea that women should look happy for the benefit of men,but then i don't think when these men tell us to smile they realise what they're doing (but then i suppose that's largely the biggest problem out of it all, that they don't realise!).

    whoops that was a long one, sorry! x