I just wanted to thank everyone for the comments here. They’ve been enlightening… to be honest I had never heard of anyone being ordered to smile outside of greeter/public relation jobs (chalk it up to youthful naivete, I suppose). With that in mind when I first read the post it struck me as an overreaction to something minor, but it’s hard to argue with a few dozen women from all over with the exact same stories and reactions.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been guilty of this behavior in my life (I hope not, though I am a cheerful person and tend to strive for that in others), but I will certainly watch for it in myself and others from here on out. Sincerely, thanks.
If one woman writes about something, it doesn’t require the commiseration of every woman on the internet to make it valid.
The reason Jason “has never heard anyone” (not “anyone” little tyke, it’s WOMEN!) being ordered to smile is because he is not a woman, men don’t hear women, men ignore women, it takes 5 women saying the same thing over and over to be heard once by a man.
I am so on the same page with my sisters. And yet…
I do have a category of Zuska’s Outreach Project to D00dly D00ds, which is why I’m not going to harsh on Jason as badly as I might have in the past. He cannot see, yet, how fracking maddening it is to hear, yet one more time, “I thought you were batshit insane when you talked about X but now I finally realize there may be something to it after all since 5 million women talked about X and NSF did a study on it that was run by a dude and I saw a segment on the Daily Show about it so it must be real for sure.”
Jason has taken a small first step – overcoming the finely honed, cultured urge to dismiss women’s voices and just this once actually listening – to becoming a real ally for women and that is worth noting. The reaction of many, many men to dismiss women’s experiences is, of course, all too common – even when, as the mansplainer thread showed, there are hundreds of women recounting similar experiences. And it isn’t just the mansplainer thread. Women who speak up about any sort of experience get dismissed, trivialized, and explained away. Indeed, that’s part of what mansplaining is for – to explain to women why what they think they’ve experienced and felt isn’t really so.
It would be so fabulous if every time a woman spoke up about crap, every man would listen and take her seriously. But that, my friends, would be a world without patriarchy, so while we are dreaming the dream, we have to deal with today.
Of COURSE it would be ideal if Jason read my crystalline prose and the light shone upon his brain and he logged onto AWIS’s website to join up and he began reading every women’s history book he could get his hands on and bought a bumper sticker for his car that said “Jim Watson is an Asshat!” and another that said Girls Think Of Everything! and downloaded Fight the Power to his iPod and led a march on his university’s president’s office for adequate on-site daycare services for all and a reasonable policy to help those charged with elder care and signed up for next year’s MLK Day On, Not A Day Off remembrance celebrations committee and dug up his lawn and installed a native plant landscape and began cooking all his own meals with locally sourced, organic foods purchased from a food co-op and donated time at a local food bank and led a million man anti-teabagger march on DC to demonstrate for stronger unions (even for postdocs!) and a real public healthcare option and gay marriage and…
…oh shit. I must have fallen asleep while I was typing. Jesus, that was a nice dream. Where was I? Oh yes. We have to deal with today. And today, one more dude than yesterday actually stopped what he was doing, sat for a minute, read what a woman wrote, read what some more women wrote, and then thought seriously about it. It’s not exactly a world without patriarchy, but it’s not exactly nothing, either.