Author Topic: Please don't tell me to smile.  (Read 47646 times)

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #60 on: November 22, 2011, 12:52:59 PM »
I work in an office for a janitorial contractor.  One day a few months back one of our cleaning employees came in on a busy day when I had been juggling multiple things, so I had my neutral face on since I wasn't particularly happy at the time.  Cue employee telling me to smile.  When I gave her complete silence with a look, then she pulled out the gem that I am so much prettier when I smile.  It took some self control not to throttle her.  Luckily she no longer works for our company and I don't have to deal with her.

Ms_Cellany

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #61 on: November 22, 2011, 12:58:10 PM »
Kill them with intellect:

"You know, my observation has been that in the majority of cases when someone tells a stranger to smile, it's a man saying it to a woman. Do you think I have enough data to generalize that this is usually the case, or is it too anecdotal? Has that been your experience? I think it's an interesting social question, don't you?"
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Bibliophile

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #62 on: November 22, 2011, 01:00:58 PM »
I don't think it's rude at all.  I get how things can annoy someone, but a personal peccadillo hardly equals rudeness.

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

Mental Magpie

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #63 on: November 22, 2011, 02:49:58 PM »
I do see it as rude, though, not just a pet peeve.  It is making an interesting assumption that the teller knows better than the person how she feels and that the teller should tell her what to do.  It's not a precautionary warning, it's not a greeting, it's a command (even if given in a jovial tone) and it says "It doesn't matter what you're feeling today, I think you should smile, so do it!"
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Ms_Cellany

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #64 on: November 22, 2011, 02:50:59 PM »
I see it as "I want to be surrounded by happy-looking people so I'll enjoy my environment more."  No thanks. I'm not an extra on your stage set.
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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #65 on: November 22, 2011, 02:56:25 PM »
Eh.  It's just a way some people have of being cheerful.  I tend to not sweat the small stuff & to me, this is one of the "small stuff". 

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx

dawbs

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #66 on: November 22, 2011, 03:25:20 PM »
I do see it as rude, though, not just a pet peeve.  It is making an interesting assumption that the teller knows better than the person how she feels and that the teller should tell her what to do.  It's not a precautionary warning, it's not a greeting, it's a command (even if given in a jovial tone) and it says "It doesn't matter what you're feeling today, I think you should smile, so do it!"
I also extrapolate to it being a 'power' issue.  And a gendered one, at that. 

Mental Magpie

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #67 on: November 22, 2011, 04:32:22 PM »
I do see it as rude, though, not just a pet peeve.  It is making an interesting assumption that the teller knows better than the person how she feels and that the teller should tell her what to do.  It's not a precautionary warning, it's not a greeting, it's a command (even if given in a jovial tone) and it says "It doesn't matter what you're feeling today, I think you should smile, so do it!"
I also extrapolate to it being a 'power' issue.  And a gendered one, at that.

I've never had either experience, honestly.  I've had just as many women tell me to smile as I have men.  As for the power issue, can you explain more please?  I am having trouble seeing where it is an issue with power, but I want to understand.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Larrabee

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #68 on: November 22, 2011, 04:36:34 PM »
I do see it as rude, though, not just a pet peeve.  It is making an interesting assumption that the teller knows better than the person how she feels and that the teller should tell her what to do.  It's not a precautionary warning, it's not a greeting, it's a command (even if given in a jovial tone) and it says "It doesn't matter what you're feeling today, I think you should smile, so do it!"
I also extrapolate to it being a 'power' issue.  And a gendered one, at that.

I've never had either experience, honestly.  I've had just as many women tell me to smile as I have men.  As for the power issue, can you explain more please?  I am having trouble seeing where it is an issue with power, but I want to understand.

Issuing orders to random people and expecting them to be followed seems like the most basic sort of power issue to me!

Its definitely a gender issue too but its complex.  Its partly to do with women being considered public property, to do with their external appearance being generally deemed more important than their actual emotions and to do with them 'owing' something to men in general.

That women do it to other women doesn't mean much, women are capable of behaving along sexist lines too.  The more important thing is that you very rarely see anyone, male or female, telling a strange man on the street to smile or to cheer up.

Ms_Cellany

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #69 on: November 22, 2011, 04:39:29 PM »
I do see it as rude, though, not just a pet peeve.  It is making an interesting assumption that the teller knows better than the person how she feels and that the teller should tell her what to do.  It's not a precautionary warning, it's not a greeting, it's a command (even if given in a jovial tone) and it says "It doesn't matter what you're feeling today, I think you should smile, so do it!"
I also extrapolate to it being a 'power' issue.  And a gendered one, at that.

I've never had either experience, honestly.  I've had just as many women tell me to smile as I have men.  As for the power issue, can you explain more please?  I am having trouble seeing where it is an issue with power, but I want to understand.

Bob likes to be surrounded by happy people. Bob sees Random Woman, who he thinks is not happy. Bob instructs her to act like she is happy, without taking time to think whether:

  • Random Woman may in fact be happy enough to suit herself, but just doesn't have a "happy" face on (Bob doesn't take time to consider whether he might simply be mistaken)

  • RW has a legitimate reason to be unhappy (Bob doesn't care whether she's unhappy, as long as she "performs" happy; her appearance is more important than her mental state)

In either scenario, Bob's judgement trumps RW's emotions. The likelihood that Bob would not tell Random Man to "Smile!" indicates that Bob respects men's right to act in accordance with their mood.
« Last Edit: November 22, 2011, 04:42:44 PM by Ms_Cellany »
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Mental Magpie

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #70 on: November 22, 2011, 04:58:34 PM »
I still don't see it as sexist.  I have heard people say it to men, too.  Perhaps not as often as women, but maybe that's because women tend to be more outwardly emotional and to show their feelings than men, and not because their external appearance is deemed more important by society.

As far as a power issue...I see what you're saying, but I think we have different definitions of power issues.  To me a power issue has to have a specific intent behind it.  Power issues are more deliberate, to me. 
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Larrabee

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #71 on: November 22, 2011, 05:06:38 PM »
I still don't see it as sexist.  I have heard people say it to men, too.  Perhaps not as often as women, but maybe that's because women tend to be more outwardly emotional and to show their feelings than men, and not because their external appearance is deemed more important by society.

As far as a power issue...I see what you're saying, but I think we have different definitions of power issues.  To me a power issue has to have a specific intent behind it.  Power issues are more deliberate, to me.

I don't want to get into a big debate here or anything, but I don't think there can be any question that society deems women's looks to be of very high importance and that there is much greater pressure on women to look a certain way than there is on men.  Look at some of the threads we see on here about people being told to wear make up at work, expected to wear heels or dress in a particular way, look at all the threads about support for weight loss mainly populated by women.

Whether or not you feel the 'smile' issue to be an extension of that is more a matter of opinion, but I don't see any point in denying some basic truths about the way the world treats the sexes/genders differently.

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #72 on: November 22, 2011, 05:16:15 PM »
I still don't see it as sexist.  I have heard people say it to men, too.  Perhaps not as often as women, but maybe that's because women tend to be more outwardly emotional and to show their feelings than men, and not because their external appearance is deemed more important by society.

As far as a power issue...I see what you're saying, but I think we have different definitions of power issues.  To me a power issue has to have a specific intent behind it.  Power issues are more deliberate, to me.

I don't want to get into a big debate here or anything, but I don't think there can be any question that society deems women's looks to be of very high importance and that there is much greater pressure on women to look a certain way than there is on men.  Look at some of the threads we see on here about people being told to wear make up at work, expected to wear heels or dress in a particular way, look at all the threads about support for weight loss mainly populated by women.

Whether or not you feel the 'smile' issue to be an extension of that is more a matter of opinion, but I don't see any point in denying some basic truths about the way the world treats the sexes/genders differently.

I'm sorry it seemed that way, but I was not at all denying that women are held to a higher standard of appearance.  I was only contending that perhaps the reason that women are told to smile more often than men is because it is acceptable for women to show emotion more than men do, so telling a man to smile wouldn't be worth while (this is postulation, not necessarily what I believe).  I was offering a different reason than it being just because women are held to a higher standard of appearance.
The problem with choosing the lesser of two evils is that you're still choosing evil.

Larrabee

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #73 on: November 22, 2011, 05:19:50 PM »
I still don't see it as sexist.  I have heard people say it to men, too.  Perhaps not as often as women, but maybe that's because women tend to be more outwardly emotional and to show their feelings than men, and not because their external appearance is deemed more important by society.

As far as a power issue...I see what you're saying, but I think we have different definitions of power issues.  To me a power issue has to have a specific intent behind it.  Power issues are more deliberate, to me.

I don't want to get into a big debate here or anything, but I don't think there can be any question that society deems women's looks to be of very high importance and that there is much greater pressure on women to look a certain way than there is on men.  Look at some of the threads we see on here about people being told to wear make up at work, expected to wear heels or dress in a particular way, look at all the threads about support for weight loss mainly populated by women.

Whether or not you feel the 'smile' issue to be an extension of that is more a matter of opinion, but I don't see any point in denying some basic truths about the way the world treats the sexes/genders differently.


I'm sorry it seemed that way, but I was not at all denying that women are held to a higher standard of appearance.  I was only contending that perhaps the reason that women are told to smile more often than men is because it is acceptable for women to show emotion more than men do, so telling a man to smile wouldn't be worth while (this is postulation, not necessarily what I believe).  I was offering a different reason than it being just because women are held to a higher standard of appearance.

Ah I see, sorry I misread that.

I think that actually the ability to display emotion publicly without condemnation is one area where women fare better than men in terms of sexism.  I think it can be really damaging to boys and men to feel they have to show a strong front at all times.

I see your point that if women are allowed to display emotion, maybe they are then expected to as well, but then why isn't showing boredom, or sadness or anger ok, only happy cheerfulness?

Its an interesting angle.

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Re: Please don't tell me to smile.
« Reply #74 on: November 22, 2011, 05:35:27 PM »
I do see it as rude, though, not just a pet peeve.  It is making an interesting assumption that the teller knows better than the person how she feels and that the teller should tell her what to do.  It's not a precautionary warning, it's not a greeting, it's a command (even if given in a jovial tone) and it says "It doesn't matter what you're feeling today, I think you should smile, so do it!"
I also extrapolate to it being a 'power' issue.  And a gendered one, at that.

I just don't see some random clerk sitting behind his counter plotting a power play going "I know, I'll tell her to smile!  That'll show her who's boss!"  To me this whole thing is one of those things where people see offense where none was intended.

“Those are my principles, and if you don't like them... well, I have others.” ~ Groucho Marx