If someone refused to sell you a good or service because you didn't smile at them when they asked, and stood there lecturing you on having a better attitude, would you:
A. "Oh, I'm so sorry, you're right, I need to smile for you."
B. "I need to speak to your manager."
C. "I WILL CHOKE YOU WITH YOUR ID LANYARD"
If you said A, you need to rethink your life choices.
If you said B, you have a fairly normal reaction to someone being ridiculous.
If you said C, congratulations! You are my mother.
Here's what happened.
This person named Whitney Way Thore, who I have never heard of before, popped up on my Facebook feed. (Friend liked the post, you have to look at it, etc.) Apparently, she went to a gas station to pick up some gum. The cashier asked her to smile. She had a bad day, had a headache, just wanted to get out of there and be done. We've all been there, right? Not good enough for cashier. Hid her gum and lectured her about having a bad attitude.
So, would you still pick B or C?
Apparently, a frightening amount of people think the cashier was well within his rights to do this, because Whitney is just being, and I quote, "a bitch".
Also, someone posted that nauseating "A smile is a woman's best curve" thing. Even as the kind of person who smiles at someone speaking to me like I'm Pavlov's Happy Puppy, that makes me cringe.
How does this relate to Mary Wollstonecraft? Well, I've been reading that shocking and subversive feminist tract "A Vindication of the Rights of Woman". The one that made that Austen chick so crazy. Wollstonecraft points out that guys kept trying to say that women's value lay in their looks and ability to make men more relaxed and comfortable.
Men do not get told to smile (except for Dale, during family pictures). Women get told this, often. When men have a passive or neutral expression on their faces, they are described as stoic. When women do, they are described as "bitchy" and "angry". (See: Whitney's Horrible Evilness. Notice how her face is utterly passive. Notice how many people tell her to stop being angry.)
Let me get a little personal here. I've never once been laughed at for being happy. But when I would get sad or angry in school, I was immediately a target for bullies, and teachers would be shocked. I was allowed to have emotions; but they were only supposed to be positive ones. Negative emotions weren't "normal", apparently.
Wollstonecraft, and her successors, dealt with the concept of the "hysterical woman". If a woman was angry or upset, she was just suffering a mental disorder. The Victorians came up with a...er...creative solution that has since made ridiculous amounts of money for sex shops everywhere, but in other cases women were locked up in insane asylums for being upset. Even now, people look askance if a woman shows these kinds of emotions.
Nothing has changed. Society still expects women to be peacemakers, the ones that make everything nice and cozy.
There is nothing inherently wrong with this either! What I love about my mother-in-law so much (apart from teasing Dale into smiling for pictures) is how welcoming her home is. It isn't perfect, but it's a place to feel safe. But it's a place to feel safe expressing yourself too. When we're upset, we can talk about it. When something angers us, we can discuss it. And because we're safe, we don't feel the need to be on the defensive, to be tense and in fight-or-flight mode. Emotions can be dealt with, not suppressed.
In the Christian viewpoint, we are all called to be peacemakers, but we aren't called to repress ourselves. We are called to deal with our emotions and with others in a Christlike manner. This means we can be angry, we can be forgiving, we can be happy.
If a woman wants to stab the bad guy in the head with a tent stake, no one is going to call her bitchy and tell her to stop being so angry. They're going to sing a cheerfully violent song about it. (Led by the woman in charge, who wasn't called bitchy for telling people to stop being idiots and start doing what God said.)
Also, we're forgetting the most important part of this.
IN WHAT UNIVERSE IS DEMANDING SOMEONE SMILE FOR YOU GOOD SOCIAL SKILLS?
Look how STOIC Capaldi is. He's always so STOIC. Especially when he swears profusely. Because he's STOIC.
Rule #1 of this blog: I can always find a reason for a Peter Capaldi picture. ALWAYS.