WaPo grieves horror of no masks because "men will start telling women to 'Smile!' again"

May 23rd

Can somebody tell me which wave of feminism gave us this headline from the Washington Post, please?

(Please note: headline presumes gender binary. Moving on...)

Apparently, before we were ordered to wear masks, there was a widespread problem in our world: men telling women to "Smile!"

And now that mask mandates are slowly fading away, Ashley Fetters writes with great anguish in her soul:

Women [...] have enjoyed a 14-month respite from the murmurs, raised eyebrows and directives to "Lighten up," or "Gimme a smile!" — mostly from men.

...

[G]lowers and frowns are set to make their return to society — and so are the annoying-at-best, threatening-at-worst comments that people often feel entitled to make about them....[A] year's reprieve from uninvited demands for smiles has been liberating.

First, I must ask, are there really that many people (if any) saying "Lighten up" or "Gimme a smile!" to women? I'm really asking because I have zero recollection of a man telling a woman to smile (and I'm excluding special instances like photo or video being taken, for obvious reasons).

But go ahead and guess what Fetters's first example is: a woman getting a new passport picture.

The photographer at CVS told Quintana Carter to make a "neutral face." Not smiling, not frowning, just expressionless.

I noticed Fetters doesn't specify the gender of the CVS photographer. I wonder why. Could it be that it would damage her argument to admit the photographer was not male?

Carter, a 29-year-old project manager at a cancer-research institute, posed as she was told. But once her image showed up on the screen, the photographer took one look and asked if she'd like to retake it. Carter politely obliged. Once more, she says, "I just kind of let my face sit there."

So, let's review.

First, the CVS photographer is not specified as male and, therefore, probably not male. Second, the photographer told Carter to make a "neutral face," not told to smile. Third, Carter was "asked" if she would like to retake the photo, not told to retake, nor was she told to smile, which is the fundamental argument of the article.

And this is all beside the point that a photoshoot is qualitatively not the same thing as, for example, a male co-worker telling a female co-worker to smile.

My point is: Fetters' first example doesn't match any of the criteria of her own grieferism.

The most hilarious part to me is that this story concludes with a woman (not a man) poking fun at Carter's facial expression!

Later that day, Carter took her new passport materials to the post office.

"The woman who was looking to make sure I had everything saw my photo and laughed," she says.

Carter, a good sport, laughed along and explained what the photographer had instructed.

"But she said, 'This isn't a neutral face! This looks like you actively want to murder somebody,' Carter remembers. 'This is going to get you extra screening at airports!'"

Ironically, the only people obsessing over facial expressions in this story (including Carter) are women. But, if you already knew the types of things worldly women obsess over, then that wouldn't be ironic to you.

(Side note: There are several more anecdotes in this article that are so hilarious that I'm calling on all the NTB readers to peacefully riot and DEMAND that Adam Ford do a live reaction to the complete WaPo article on his next podcast. His email is [email protected] Thank you.)

Fetters sounds really smart (to some people, I guess) because she cites some psychologist from somewhere:

Requests for smiles may seem harmless to some, but they're often considered to be in line with catcalling, unwelcome gestures and other kinds of harassment, says Kimberly Fairchild, an associate professor of psychology at Manhattan College who researches street harassment.

In the worst cases, commands to smile can escalate into scarier situations. But even when a command to smile is just that, Fairchild says there can be a "cumulative effect" if it happens often, as it can in urban areas.

"Urban areas"? You know, it'd be a real shame if someone accused Fetters and Fairchild of committing a racist microaggression for using such a phrase.

Anyway, is it really fair to include this type of circumstance (i.e., being harassed in an "urban area") in the same category as a passport photo shoot at CVS? Those are not the same, nor do they prove the author's point.

I'm pretty sure crazy people have been harassing other people on the sidewalk whether they've been wearing a mask or not for as long as there has ever been such a thing as a sidewalk.


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