Friday, July 24, 2015

Don't tell me to smile

Dear Hannah,

I've never really had trouble smiling, but I imagine that if the genders swapped places and women went around asking men to smile, that men would think of something much funnier to say than they were being forced to because of the matriarchy.  I imagine many of us would say we'd already be smiling -- if only the woman who was asking was prettier.

This of course would bring upon men a whole slew of other problems; but it would be the most practical reaction to an impractical suggestion.  There's really only one reason why anyone wouldn't smile, and it is because whoever they're around isn't making them happy enough to do it.  If we were being fair about the matter, the best way of going about making somebody smile is by giving them something to smile about, not by asking them to do it.  It's the difference between tickling someone and cracking a good joke, or between just going at it and attempting some foreplay.  It's bad form, whichever way you look at it; and if it is patriarchy, it's the kind of paternal pestering that asks children to stop hitting themselves with their own fists. 

But this leads us to a very uncomfortable question for feminists.  Their principle is simply this: that a woman should only have to smile if she feels like smiling, because that's the way she feels.  The only reason feminists refuse to take this argument seriously in other matters, is because if it was taken seriously in other matters, we wouldn't much longer have any feminists.

Aside from the fact that taking people's instincts seriously would immediately ruin the crusades against shaming fatties and trannies and sluts, the idea that women smile in the presence of charmers is closely related to the idea that men only vote for women who inspire them, and make them confident.  For too long we've been hearing we need a woman in the White House, just like we've been hearing we need more women as CEO's and Marines.  But if we began to take seriously the idea that our feelings are serious, we might begin to question whether mandatory feminism was really a good way of going about things in the first place.  We might begin to ask ourselves, for instance, what quotas and discrimination laws and equal pay mandates have anything to do with justice, if our feelings lead us to place our confidence elsewhere.

And so it might seem ridiculous to mandate a smile, because smiling -- despite the fact that it has the power to make or ruin our day -- is something very personal.  It's almost as personal as who you decide to date -- or who you hire in a company and what you decide to pay them.  The problem is that our feminists have gotten things backwards.  They fight over smiles, and hand over our rights of association and property; and when corporate lawsuits are concerned, they hand over our liberty of speech.  They ask men to pay women more money not because men really feel like it, but because women think they ought to feel like it.  They want us to make women Marines not because women are good at soldiering, but because it's rude to say they aren't.

I would never argue in favor of frowning, because anyone with any good sense knows that smiling in the overwhelming majority of transactions builds trust, smooths over differences, and inspires feelings of affection.  I would even go so far as saying it's one of the best and easiest ways you can convince anyone you care about their feelings at all.  But the central concept in the Right to Frown is that people have to earn our efforts -- that they have to be worthy of our happiness on our terms, to have us reciprocally make them happy.  This is the foundation of all justice and society; and (dare I say it?) the foundation of our modern libertarian and conservative philosophy: that we have a right to reciprocate according to merit, and not to others' random wishes; that we have a right to pursue our own happiness, whatever any mooch demands for himself.

If there was any sensible thing about modern feminism, it is that they know they have a right to frown.  You might even say that if they came to the natural conclusion of their own arguments, they might end up as Objectivists -- or even better, as respectful people in general.  And if there is anything senseless about modern feminism, it isn't only that they frown too often, or even that after they frump and frown us to death they expect us to like them.  It's that they haven't taken that foundational Right to Frown, and applied it to things more important than frowning.

Your father,


  1. I'm a man. And, apparently, I'm a man with "resting bitch face". Many years ago, when I worked at [major telecomm company], two of my co-workers, one a man and one a woman, were constantly barking "Smile!" at me.

    Besides that that always engendered in my the desire to murder, I always thought of that as something that women (and womanly men) do. I just can't *see* men going around ordering other people to smile.

  2. I've never really thought it was a good idea to ask someone to smile, probably because I'm good at making them smile without asking. I think a much manlier and more acceptable way of pointing out that someone is obnoxiously sour is by slapping him on the back and yelling "look at this sad, pathetic bastard!" They might hate it, but everyone else thinks it's funny.

  3. I don't think it's possible to *ask* someone to smile; it seems to me it's always a demand. Moreover -- and this is the part that really pissed me off about the demand that I "Smile!" -- the imperious "Smile!" command is such a false pretense of caring about someone else's life.

    It also seems to me that there is a vast difference between "someone [who] is obnoxiously sour" and someone who doesn't have a vapid smile pasted on his face every second of the day.