For my final blog post, I want to reflect on this issue of street harassment and the meaning behind telling someone to “smile.” Recently, I was talking to one of my friends and she brought up her feelings about being told to smile when she was not in the best of moods. My first thought was, well maybe they were trying to cheer you up or maybe they just wanted to see you smile. However, she went on to say she gets this from a lot of men and says she feels like she should not be told to feel happy if she is in a bad mood. I thought about this for a bit and I think at times she could be right. This leads into the issue of harassment and how women should feel flattered if a man “compliments” her as she is walking down the street…
As a female, my friend spoke about how she felt she was up for judgment simply by existing in public. Are you wearing a smile? Do you look put together? Do you have your make up on the right way? There is a certain expectation that many people (men and women) have for women in how they should appear when they go throughout their day. If you are having a bad day, it does not matter, you need to smile. Of course there is professionalism to take into account, but my friend was not in a professional setting when one of her male acquaintances came up to her and condescendingly told her to smile. She felt like she had a right to her feelings and should not feel obligated to portray an emotion just because that is what is expected.
This story goes well with a recent video I found about women and street harassment. As a new found feminist, I have to say that one of my most difficult arguments that I have had to endure with my female family members is that a man yelling at you on the side of the street that you are beautiful or whistling at you as they drive by, IS NOT OKAY. Thankfully, other women feel the same way and the woman in this video is getting proactive about it. It really is not a compliment to be told by a random stranger on the side of the street that you have a nice ass. No one is entitled to say whatever they want to whoever they want and still remain a respectable human being but unfortunately many street harassers do feel they are entitled. It says in the video, men who harass feel like the women they compliment owe them something. However, women do not owe these men anything. Ever. Nor should they feel good about these “compliments” because they are normally not meant in a genuine way. Most of the time they are given as a way for a man to feel powerful or to act as if they are in control and can say whatever they want to any woman that walks by. Cat calling and heckling is not something I accept and do not take it as a compliment. I do not exist for your entertainment.
I wish that I could really explain why my fellow female friends should be offended by this. That is one thing that I have found difficult is that people who have not read the articles I have or have not been touched by the classes I have taken, find it really difficult to relate to many of the feminist issues I talk about. This blog has been so great because it has helped me express my thoughts with little objection and I have been surrounded by people (men and women) who understand where I am coming from and why certain issues are actually issues. Many people want to look the other way and not dive into the deep rooted problems in today’s world that should be changed or corrected. Sexism, racism, ageism, etc all still exist and are apparent in much of how people act and think. These issues should not be accepted or ignored and people need to be made aware. That is what I hoped to do with my blog posts and I think I accomplished that in many ways. I will continue to speak about these issues and not go about life in silence. I will speak up for what I believe is right and hopefully, other people will start to do the same so that eventually, there will be more equality in the world.
Thanks so much for reading my posts! It has been a great semester! Let me know any final thoughts you may have towards your feminist journey or what this video meant for you!