Telling women to smile on the internet October 7, 2012Posted by mareserinitatis in feminism, societal commentary.
Tags: facebook, feminism, sexism
There’s an interesting phenomenon that many women have experienced: a random stranger off the street will suddenly come up to you and tell you to smile. If you’ve never heard of it before, just google “men telling women to smile” and you can read more about it than I have room to give you here. The general consensus is that it’s a control issue. Men can demand things from women (or feel entitled to) because of their privileged position.
The funny thing is that you can get this on the internet, too. Only there, I’ve run into it several times in the form of “you shouldn’t post that on your facebook page”. It’s happened several times to me:
I don’t want to see pictures of your kids. I want to know what’s going on with you.
I don’t want to see pictures of your dogs. They aren’t part of your family.
I don’t want to see your political rants. I want to know what’s going on with you.
Interestingly, that last comment came immediately after I’d posted something about how the president of our university mentioned my research in his state of the university speech. This same person never bothered to comment on that point.
And this leads me to believe that this is exactly the same phenomenon, as it always seems to be men who say these things to me. They somehow feel that they can exert control over what I choose to post and they feel I am not sufficiently entertaining.
I wonder how they would feel if someone said to them, in a conversation, “I don’t want to talk about what you’re interested in. Let’s talk about what I want to discuss.” Most of us think people like that are assholes.
After telling my husband about this latest comment, he responded incredulously, “It’s your Facebook page. You can post whatever you want!” And a few hours later, another friend posted exactly that on the conversation on Facebook. I was more polite than that in my response, but given this has happened multiple times, I think I’m going to use this as my response from now on: “Don’t like it? Don’t read it. I’m not here for your entertainment. Also, learn to use the ‘hide’ or ‘unfriend’ options.”
Of course, that would be rude. And women can’t be rude.