Stop Telling Women to Smile

Misogyny is still alive and well, even in ways that people don't recognize. Everyday just the way I hear men talk about women, and even (unfortunately) how some women talk about each other.  One of the ways biggest ways I've experienced it personally is from street harassment (sexual harassment outside the workplace).  Just yesterday I was walking down a hallway at school when this dirty looking older guy (who did NOT look like he was a student or a worker) looks at me and twitches his eyebrows then makes a kissy face at me as he passes me by.

I stopped putting up with that shit a long time ago and I immediately whipped around and told him, "That's disrespectful!" and he shrugs it off and mumbles some hurried apology, but I'm pretty sure he hadn't gotten that kind of reaction before from a woman he harassed.  

I know probably all of my female friends have experienced this type of behavior at some point, and I dunno about y'all but after each experience like that, not only do I feel extremely PISSED OFF, but I also feel disgusted.  When a man looks at me or says something to me in that way that's completely unwarranted, it makes me feel DISGUSTING. It makes me want to curl up into a ball and hide from the world, it makes me want to cover myself up and hide or wish that I had an invisibility cloak, because I feel violated without a man even touching me, he has managed to make me feel violated and gross. 
I think for women it's really important, besides standing up to guys who harass us, for us to spread awareness to our male friends and acquaintances that they need to realize that women do not exist just for their viewing pleasure. Even though most of our friends who are men would probably not speak to us in that way, that doesn't mean they don't still carry around the mindset of reacting to women they first meet with some type of comment about their appearance.

"Stop Telling Women to Smile" is a project working to raise awareness about street harassment all over the nation, and to challenge men everywhere to check themselves and change the way they view women.  Plenty of men are harassing women and they might be thinking they're actually giving us a compliment by saying something like, "Smile!" or "You look fine" or (my favorite) "aren't you a tall glass of water?" (or some other offensive reference to my height and vague comparison to a beverage).

Men aren't just going to stop thinking of women as objects, as property.  Even our most seemingly respectful guy friends might still harbor the mindset hammered into them by a patriarchal society and misogynistic media that women should immediately be appraised on their physical appearance (whether these ideas stay as only thoughts in their heads or not). We need to start letting men know that there is a fine line between a compliment and un-called for harassment.

So if you're also sick of men talking to you as if you exist solely for their aesthetic pleasure, and hearing everywhere speech that undermines women to just objects to be admired/judged/used, and you'd like to get involved in an organization to raise awareness and help stop street harassment, click the link above to learn about opportunities to put up posters in your area like the ones pictured.

Also, next time a man says something to you that makes you feel uncomfortable or harassed, don't be afraid to stand up for yourself and say "Please don't speak to me that way, that is disrespectful."*, or just use any of the choice phrases from the posters. :]

*Unless you are in a situation/environment where you feel you may be in danger, then run.

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