Thus Spake Zuska

I Had A Dream

Reader Jason commented on my post about compulsory smiling thusly:

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.

Isis and JC rightly point out what is so very annoying and maddening about this sort of response, as positive as it may seem. Isis:

If one woman writes about something, it doesn’t require the commiseration of every woman on the internet to make it valid.

JC:

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.

Comments

  1. #1 nobody
    April 7, 2010

    Wow. You are so condescending and rude, it’s incredible. Why is this on scienceblogs? There’s nothing remotely scientific about being rude and condescending.

  2. #2 SargassoSea
    April 7, 2010

    I just read, not 2 minutes ago, the comment to which you refer and said out loud: “Good for you – you’ve managed to realize and actually believe that shitty shit happens to women!”

    Sometimes the light really does go on. Not anywhere near often enough, but sometimes.

  3. #3 Delphyne
    April 7, 2010

    Poor nobody got his widdle fewings hurt, Zuska… :-)

  4. #4 Isis ther Scientist
    April 7, 2010

    Yeah, Zuska. None of this gender shit has anything to do with real SCIENCE!!! Now post some damned shoes already!!!!

  5. #5 Zuska
    April 7, 2010

    Poor nobody has poor reading comprehension skills.

  6. #6 Janice in Toronto
    April 7, 2010

    The older I get, the more I understand women running away to women-only communes.

    Asshats.

  7. #7 becca
    April 7, 2010

    Who knew my life’s ambition was to be an ideal dream Jason?

    P.S. I just joined AWIS

  8. #8 J
    April 7, 2010

    This showed up today for me on the RSS feed for Science Blogs. I have to say that I agree with ‘nobody’ on the question of why this is here. I’ve read lots of these blog posts and haven’t found one that’s science related. What’s going on here?

  9. #9 Queef
    April 7, 2010

    I tend to ignore some women not because they are women, but because I have either figured out that they are not saying valid things or do not have enough time to devote the proper amount of attention. I do the same to some men. Yet, is the new requirement to be that everyone must always take everyone else seriously all of the time? That’s a fairly tall order.

  10. #10 mpatter
    April 7, 2010

    Zuska, thank you for giving douchebags a chance. Realising we’ve been douchebags for our entire lives is a shock, so it takes a little while to adjust.

  11. #11 Sonia
    April 7, 2010

    I don’t know that I’m comfortable saying that this man dismissing one woman’s voice is equivalent to his dismissing women in general. One person saying there’s something wrong when you’ve gone decades never hearing of that problem is crazy; several people corroborating that problem’s existence make one pause and say “Maybe I’m wrong and there’s something to this.” That’s perfectly fine.

    I think the problem here is that there are so few conversations out there about these issues, not that men automatically dismiss women. I can’t blame this man for not having been exposed to this problem before and reacting with suspicion simply because he’s never been told, throughout his several decades of life, that it exists.

    Not every woman has the same life experiences and not every woman is as willing to talk about them as you are. I personally have never been told to smile by a stranger, and only by a boss when he was enforcing the same “smile” policy on male employees equally and obeying the policy himself (in the food service industry). We can’t assume that even if this man is talking with his female peers, that they (1) are willing to talk to him about this stuff (for whatever reasons; maybe because they’re socialized not to) and (2) are themselves aware of the problem.

    I, too, was suspicious at first. Not because I’m dismissive of women, but because *one* person experiencing a particular brand of sexism does not mean that *more than one* person is necessarily experiencing that, and I had never heard of it before now. It’s simply impossible to know what the big problems are without that sort of corroboration and backing-up by empirical studies.

    Even in a gender-equal society we will have people who hate men, people who hate women, *and* people who are properly gender-neutral in their hate. The question is merely whether the first two groups are small and about equal in proportion. Thus, one story about a sexist remark does not mean that it’s a national problem– just as one false rape accusation would not mean that it’s an epidemic. We need multiple stories. We need corroboration.

  12. #12 Dick
    April 7, 2010

    J: this post is part of an ongoing plot to defoul the pure waters of Scienceblogs, which play host to noted famous science-only content blogs like Pharyngula, Dispatches From the Culture Wars, and Greg Laden’s Blog. I for one am sick of it. Is there someone we can write to and complain?

    Queef: isn’t it awful to have to think about listening to other people as if their concerns and interests were somehow worth caring about? If I had time to figure out what the girls were all abuzz about, or already knew that it was something important, that would be different. But asking me to listen and learn anything is really over the top. I mean, I have shit to do and all.

  13. #13 Queef
    April 7, 2010

    Dick, you’ve listened to every word that every single person who has ever wanted to speak with you before has ever said? I haven’t. I think it’s normal not to. But, maybe you have more time on your hands than I do.

  14. #14 Quietmarc
    April 7, 2010

    One of the possible conclusions that one could draw from your statements, Sonia, is that a man can get away with -anything- so long as he only does it to one woman: order her to smile, leer at her in a professional setting, take advantage of her sexually, etc. Unless he’s harrassing -several- women so that their stories can be corroborated, he hasn’t necessarily done anything wrong.

    More evidence is better, obviously, but in cases where there’s a power differential other factors have to come into play. When women get negative responses completely out of proportion to the situation (see comment #1) for just -noticing- something, imagine the cost they incur for making an accusation about anything bigger…it’s a lot easier to stay quiet (and smile!) than to raise an objection, which means that any objections that -are- raised ought to be weighted appropriately.

  15. #15 Alyssum
    April 7, 2010

    I think it is so depressing that there are people (probably men but maybe women) who think that talking about issues that specifically impact women have nothing to do with Life Science, Physical Science, Environment, Humanities, Education, Politics, Medicine, Brain & Behavior, Technology or Information Science.

    I work with women who for quite some time were one of the only two women in an industry and occupation in my province. It has had such a strong impact on how these women interact with their collegues and how they are perceived by other people. Things have improved a great deal but every once in a while issues come up that remind me of how little progress there really has been.

  16. #16 plutosdad
    April 7, 2010

    Indeed as a man I am told to smile less.
    The only difference would be for work if you are in the service industry, then you might be told to smile at customers.
    But in general? Smiling is looked down on in men, even by women. I don’t mean they should scowl, a smile can put people at ease when you meet them, but after that it’s often interpreted as a sign of weakness, just like slouching your shoulders instead of standing up straight.

  17. #17 Dick
    April 7, 2010

    Queef: good god no I do not have time on my hands. And as Alyssum has pointed out, this crap only affects 50% of the population so not a majority by any means. Like I said, if I already knew it was important, I would listen, but why should I have to learn anything new? I don’t think that’s what science – or Scienceblogs – is all about.

  18. #18 ambivalent academic
    April 7, 2010

    @Sonia 11 –

    If only one woman experiences a particular brand of sexism, does it mean that that one instance of the one particular brand of sexism directed at that one particular woman doesn’t matter to her? Does it mean that its OK? Does it mean that we should only address brands of sexism which some arbitrary critical mass of women experience? If so, who has the authority to determine that arbitrary critical mass? You? Me? Men? Women? Third party observers?

    In this example, it is not the case that only a single woman has experienced this particular brand of sexism – lots of women related similar experiences. The point here is that some people are inclined (perhaps even conditioned) to assume that individual women are making this shit up (and should therefore be ignored or disparaged)…until some arbitrary critical mass of women chime in such that the issue is now too big to be ignored. It is true that many men will never have heard of (read: had first-hand experience with) this particular brand of sexism, because they are men and are not the targets of this behavior.

    But that doesn’t mean that when a woman says to him, “hey, this thing happened to me and it’s not cool” that he should dismiss this as a lie or crazy or whatever until at least (n) more women back up her statement. If a man says, “hey, I was mugged in the parking garage last night” would the default behavior be to disbelieve him until 19 more men were also mugged in the parking garage, bringing our sample size to n=20?

  19. #19 Brian
    April 7, 2010

    In this example, it is not the case that only a single woman has experienced this particular brand of sexism – lots of women related similar experiences. The point here is that some people are inclined (perhaps even conditioned) to assume that individual women are making this shit up (and should therefore be ignored or disparaged)…until some arbitrary critical mass of women chime in such that the issue is now too big to be ignored. It is true that many men will never have heard of (read: had first-hand experience with) this particular brand of sexism, because they are men and are not the targets of this behavior.

    I didn’t get the impression that there was any trouble recognizing the validity of the individual experience. As I understood it, the problem arose when that recounting of an individual experience was generalized to represent a widespread phenomenon.

    Does saying, for instance, that I had not realized how widespread a problem the whole “Smile!” thing is until I read the comments of several women attesting to that fact make me somehow dismissive of the individual experience? I don’t think so, but I suppose I could be wrong.

  20. #20 Zuska
    April 7, 2010

    Yes. Many men have trouble recognizing the validity of individual experience. They also have trouble recognizing the validity of women’s experience when it is widely shared.

    If it just happened to you: it’s not meaningful, because it’s an isolated incident. Never mind how it made you feel.

    If it happened to lots of you: it’s not meaningful, because that’s just how things are and evolution and god’s will and nature and awkward attempts to hit on you and don’t take it so seriously and god you’re such a bitch.

    Perhaps you are unusual, Brian, in paying attention to what women are saying?

  21. #21 ambivalent academic
    April 7, 2010

    Brian – not realizing how widespread a problem is, is different from this:

    “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.”

  22. #22 Brian
    April 7, 2010

    I wouldn’t go that far, no. I’d say that, at best, I’m average at paying attention to what women are saying.

    In my head, at least, my response to someone relating the “Smile more!” incident to me might be to say something along the lines of: “I understand how that would make you feel that way. Many folks apparently don’t think about what they’re saying. I’m sorry that’s been your experience.”

    But if I don’t realize just how widespread a problem it is until I hear the same story from several other women, does that make me in some way deserving of, say, Isis’ ire (except to the extent that it implies I probably haven’t been paying enough attention)?

    I guess it seemed odd to me that Jason’s post would be met with such a forceful response. Reading over the comment again, however, I realize that I had mentally replaced “something minor” in his comment with “something isolated”. May be what he meant to say, but who knows?

  23. #23 Brian
    April 7, 2010

    @Ambivalent Academic

    Yeah, I caught that after I had posted (see the end of my most recent comment). I read minor=isolated, sorry.

  24. #24 Treespeed
    April 7, 2010

    So let’s be clear take the Womynz experiences very seriously, but any personal anecdotes from men are just the doodz getting their little feelings hurt. What a lovely heads I win, tails you lose logic.

    And regarding the girls are women thread. Since when did it become okay for all of the sweet Latino women to refer to my 4 year old GIRL as Mama. She’s a girl, and hopefully, if my wife and I raise her well she won’t be a mama for at least another 20 years or more. And don’t give me any of that cultural relativism crap, as I know the rest of the Hispanic macho BS wouldn’t get a pass here.

  25. #25 imr90
    April 7, 2010

    If one is a scientist, one should know that results or observations from one person are considered conditional without confirmation by additional observers/researchers. Unless of course possession of two X-chromosomes confers infallibilty and possession of one X and one Y-chromosome invalidates any contributions from that person.

  26. #26 J
    April 7, 2010

    Anecdotal evidence and double standards == science. I love this place!

  27. #27 ambivalent academic
    April 7, 2010

    If one is a reasonable and rational human being, one should know that when people are discussing individual experiences, which impact them in a personal way, those people are not talking about quantification of population dynamics or trends along the mean or reproducibility. Rather, they are talking about individual experiences which affect individual people in meaningful and personal ways, just as it appears.

    Weirdly, individual experiences can also happen to individual people who are scientists. And those individual people who are scientists can also think about them in terms how those experiences affect them in meaningful and personal ways, in lieu of or in addition to analyzing population dynamics and trends along the mean. Sometimes these individual experiences are perceived differently by different individuals, and sometimes there are experiences in common which may or may not correlate to particular phenotypes like gender (Zuska et al., infinity), but they are still the experiences of individual people. Sometimes it is helpful to analyze them as such, rather than as data points along a curve, and other times it is helpful to view them as a body of evidence that indicates a trend. Sometimes it is helpful to do both.

    Because scientists are people too.

    So are women.

    So are women who are scientists.

    It’s shocking, I know.

  28. #28 FrauTech
    April 7, 2010

    I’m glad to see Jason not getting beat up too badly. When I read his comment, and then saw Isis jumping all over him followed by a few people after, I felt a little bad. He didn’t come off as a mansplainer to me, more somebody who was learning and really trying to learn. I’ve been that person on other kinds of blogs and it’s horrible when you think you’re trying to listen, quickly type out your comment, and then fifteen people curse at you and accuse you of being a troll. There are some people here who deserve to be cursed at, but Jason didn’t seem like one of them. I hope he comes back and is not put off by a single commenting experience. I mean, how much time does someone spent typing up a comment? Perhaps he worded it poorly, or still hasn’t come around to accepting society as it is, but at least it seemed like he was making an effort.

  29. #29 Pen
    April 7, 2010

    #1 Now how about if Zuska wrote a post about all the male science bloggers posting about politics/their families/their disapproval of religion/etc without apparently drawing remarks like that?

  30. #30 Treespeed
    April 7, 2010

    Pen, it might be interesting if she could do it without talking about the doodz.

  31. #31 Sonia
    April 7, 2010

    @quietmarc- Telling women to smile and not men is a problem and is apparent as a problem because women are told to smile more often than men. If many men each only tell one woman to smile, that is still quite visible as a problem if they’re not also telling one man to smile. I appreciate the power differential, but I don’t think that his reaction was so disproportionate to the situation from his perspective: here is *one person* talking about *one incident* as if it is a widespread problem, yet he’s never seen any evidence of this problem (either in conversations with women, or witnessing it while walking down the street, or being aware of being in such an office, or whatever). Why should he believe that one incident represents a widespread problem? I definitely wouldn’t, or I’d be campaigning for all sorts of ridiculous things. As more women came forward and said “Yes, I’ve experienced that,” it became a learning experience for him and rather than dismissing the women’s voices, he listened. I think that’s commendable.

    @ambivalent academic- Of course it matters to her and it’s not okay. But simply being told to smile, *without the knowledge that it’s a comment more often directed towards women than men,* is not sexist. Only with the knowledge that it happens to women and not men do we realize that it happens as a result of gender policing, not good food service policy or whatever. So, if only one woman had ever been told to smile, there’s no evidence that it’s due to sexism. The individual incidents themselves are ambiguously sexist, and the sexism only becomes obvious when we look at them in context — as opposed to, say, a man telling his female coworker that she’d never succeed in business because she’s too nice as a woman.

    I don’t think he was dismissing it as a lie, but I could frankly understand him dismissing it as crazy without the knowledge that it’s happened to more than one person and is obviously sexist *within the context of* having happened to more than one person.

  32. #32 ambivalent academic
    April 7, 2010

    Nice try, but I’m not buying it.

    When any person demands of any other person that the demandee alter their mood or appearance to suit the tastes of the demander, the demander is doing so out of a sense of entitlement. The demander obviously feels that they have some right to impinge their preferences upon the demandee. This sense of entitlement stems from privilege, and privilege is a function of various power dynamics (not just men-women).

    In the case of a man demanding smiles of a woman, it is a case of male privilege. Whether the man is aware of his male privilege or not, he is still operating out of his sense of entitlement over the woman’s facial expressions.

    Whether the woman is aware that this sort of things happens disproportionately to women by men or not, it is still happening because the man feels entitled to impinge his desires upon the woman.

    It is still sexism, precisely because the behavior is condoned, tolerated and supported by an ingrained belief that men are entitled to demand things (like smiles) of women.

  33. #33 Sonia
    April 7, 2010

    @ambivalent academic- Think about the ways in which these women are being told to smile.

    In feedback to a professor, perhaps she is told that she is “hostile” and “unapproachable” and smiling more is offered as a suggestion for how to make herself seem more approachable to students– and smiling does generally make someone seem more approachable. But it is a problem if we only consider it a requirement for women to be approachable.

    In the workplace, if you’re dealing directly with customers it is understandable that your boss would want you to put your best face forward– and it makes sense to ask your employees to smile at your customers. Also, HR polices attitudes and morality, so telling an employee that s/he needs to be more cheerful because they are demoralizing the other employees is also fair game. But it doesn’t make sense to tell only female ones to do so.

    And on the street, if you see someone and think that they are sad, trying to cheer them up is A-OK in my book. Asking what’s wrong, or paying them a compliment, or something like that can really make someone’s day. GivesMeHope has tons of stories about people being extremely depressed, or having eating disorders, or what have you and practically weeping with joy at having a stranger tell them to smile because they are so pretty. What is a problem is when people tell *women* to “smile because they are pretty” and ask *men* if they are okay, and it’s a problem because the sexes are being treated differently, not because it’s horrible to want someone else to be happy.

    I suppose I do not see a stranger asking you to do something on the street to be a “demand,” and you do. Perhaps that is our disagreement.

  34. #34 SKM
    April 7, 2010

    Sonia, men do not order me to “smile for them” because they want me to be happy. Promise.

  35. #35 idlemind
    April 7, 2010

    OK, I’m a man, and I’ve certainly witnessed the “smile” directive aimed at women (and never at me). It’s hard to miss it. So I can understand a WTF? reaction when someone says they’ve doubted the phenomenon before. We can hope that Jason is now sensitized to these little dominance displays. Perhaps it’s the one step that begins an enlightening journey. But he needs to do a bit deeper introspection here — what has kept him from noticing this before? And what other things has he been blind to?

    I’m kind of an odd duck on this subject. As an aspie, I have virtually no inborn social sense. What social sense I do have, I’ve picked up by observing others over the past several decades of my life. So I’m not sure just how obvious the domination implicit in asking women (or anyone) to smile is to others, but it’s been pretty obvious to me.

  36. #36 Zuska
    April 7, 2010

    Sonia, I spent a little time on that GivesMeHope site. I did not see any stories about strangers telling people to smile because they are so pretty. Also, that site is fucking depressing.

    Ask yourself, Sonia: why are you trying so hard to find some configuration where it is a-okay for strangers to demand that people smile to “cheer them up”? I mean, why do we need to go around cheering people up? Lots of people feel like shit because they have a lot of shit in their lives. I mean, just read that GivesMeHope site – really read it, and pay attention to the horrific stories people are telling. They don’t need cheering up. They need someone to honestly listen to them honestly say what is going on with them. “Cheering people up” is so often a defense against honest listening to truth-telling.

  37. #37 Sonia
    April 8, 2010

    @SKM- I haven’t experienced what you have (having read your comment on the previous post), so I can’t speak to that. When I’ve not responded to cat-calls, I’ve gotten *apologies.* It really depends on the situation, the circumstance, and where you are. So if you say that where you are, when you have been told to smile on the street, it has been in a disrespectful, threatening and sexist way, then I absolutely believe you. But that’s not true everywhere and it’s not true of all circumstances in which a woman is bid to smile. I cannot and do not speak to population proportions, though.

    I’ve been asking the women I know at my small liberal-arts college if they’ve ever been told to smile, either in public or by a boss, and the proportions are very small and of the (very few) who have experienced it, so far no one has said that they felt threatened, disrespected or singled out as a woman. This is a *really* feminist campus– I don’t think the women I’m asking would not be aware of power dynamics. But, though these women didn’t grow up on a liberal arts college campus, many of them came from very liberal or suburban environments. Depending on where you are, what subculture you grew up in, etc. I think it would be easy to be unaware of this particular problem.

    @Zuska- GivesMeHope actually started a trend of putting “Smile! You’re beautiful!” notes everywhere, Operation Beautiful-style. Here’s a couple examples from the site of what I’m talking about: 1 a href=”http://www.givesmehope.com/view/Random%20acts%20of%20kindness/39295″>2 3 4 5 6

    Different people need different things. You cannot say that what someone else “needs” is a good listening-to. Sometimes, what some people need is to not feel invisible in a crowd. Some people want to be singled out and told by a random person on the street with nothing to lose that they’re pretty, and that that random person honestly wants to see them smile and know that they are happy. I have no problem with that. Strangers caring is pretty cool, and if you really read GMH and look at the horrible shit people are going through, you’ll see that a stranger paying a compliment or caring just a little can make a world of difference. What I have a problem with is treating sad men and sad women in public differently.

    What I have a problem with is women being told to smile in public in a disrespectful, aggressive way– YOU MUST SMILE BECAUSE I AM MAN rather than “I would like to know that you are a little happier by seeing you smile.” But that’s just not the intent every time someone tells someone else to smile. Sometimes the intent is honestly good-natured. And when that is the case, like I said, what I have a problem with is treating men and women who we’d like to cheer up differently.

    The thing is, I don’t think I’m even *trying* to find a configuration to make it okay for strangers to tell someone to smile. This is my default reaction, and it’s my default because I grew up in a friendly neighborhood of a city in the midwest and like it when people interact with me on the street. The interactions I grew up with are mostly positive; people smile at each other when we make eye contact and pass each other, sometimes pay each other compliments, and though sometimes the comments are *sexist,* they are very rarely *threatening.* For example, a man once asked me on the street: “Why you covering your pretty frame up with that big coat today?” I said: “It’s cold!” He said: “Not today,” smiled and we continued on our separate ways. Definitely sexist, but he is no threat.

    Not everyone grew up in the environment I did. But some people did, or at least similar environments, and for us– why would we think a stranger asking to see them smile in a non-aggressive way is sexist unless they knew it only happened to women?

  38. #38 Andreas Johansson
    April 8, 2010

    Treespeed wrote:

    Pen, it might be interesting if she could do it without talking about the doodz.

    I do confess to surprise at Zuska’s inclination to talk about “d00dz”. It seems designed to make her male readers tell themselves “I’m not part of the problem, those dastardly d00dz are”.

  39. #39 Vicki
    April 8, 2010

    Agreeing strongly with our host @36: there is a *huge* difference between “what’s wrong?” or “Can I give you a hand here?” or even “Hello” and “Smile, you’ll feel better!” or “It can’t be that bad.”

    Judith Martin, in one of her Miss Manners books, tells about a clueless seatmate on an airplane seeing her, wearing black and looking sober, saying something like “Cheer up, you look like you’re going to a funeral.” The stranger had no idea of what to do with the fact that she looked like she was going to a funeral because she was.

  40. #40 skeptifem
    April 8, 2010

    WTF is with all the douchebags saying that this has nothing to do with science? Women experience sexist bullshit when they go into science. It is fucking relevant to the lives of female scientists and engineers, and to those of us who want to do so someday. This kind of thing deserves a spot on SB.

  41. #41 theshortearedowl
    April 9, 2010

    Actually, I find excessive smiling in both men and women kind of creepy. Like they’re about to try and sell you something, or ask if you’ve let Jesus into your life.

  42. #42 thebewilderness
    April 9, 2010

    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.

    Jason’s pants are on fire.
    He knows perfectly well whether or not he treats women as though they are in service to his needs when he demands cheerfulness from them because he is “a cheerful person”.

  43. #43 Cara
    April 9, 2010

    Dick, you’ve listened to every word that every single person who has ever wanted to speak with you before has ever said? I haven’t. I think it’s normal not to. But, maybe you have more time on your hands than I do.

    Yes, your vast skills are in such demand that you have no time to spend, say, trolling feminist blogs.

  44. #44 Cara
    April 9, 2010

    Unless of course possession of two X-chromosomes confers infallibilty and possession of one X and one Y-chromosome invalidates any contributions from that person.

    Not all XY carriers are invalid. Just ones like you.

  45. #45 Cara
    April 9, 2010

    Pen, it might be interesting if she could do it without talking about the doodz.

    Treespeed, get your blog. Then you can talk about whatever you want to.

  46. #46 CJ
    April 11, 2010

    Pen, it might be interesting if she could do it without talking about the doodz.

    But… it’s perfectly A-OK for the doodz to talk about us, right? What about Howard Stern or icky, sexist TV shows like Family Guy? Oh wait… silly me. I keep forgetting that mainstream misogyny is supposed to be “funny”, and anybody who complains about it is being a “controlling, politically correct Feminazi”.

    HYPOCRISY: It’s what’s for dinner.

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