THANK YOU. I still struggle to explain this to men, or even to young women who haven’t had it happen to them enough times to really notice the problem (they’ll get there, no doubt — we all do).
My favorite part was this bit of the instigator’s tweet: “Is it against the rules to want to see a woman happy?” No, but ordering a woman to smile has nothing to do with wanting her to BE happy — only to LOOK happy and friendly and “pretty.”
I don’t know you, but it sounds like you have an unfortunately intimate knowledge of grief, so I’m guessing you’ve felt pressured to plaster on a fake smile from time to time in order to reassure someone else that you’re not wailing inside even though you absolutely are. Men who are grieving get that pressure too, of course, but the pressure on women does not lessen as grief fades. It just persists in more mundane ways, like having a random drunk guy at a conference order you to smile because he does not approve of your current expression.
We don’t owe our emotions to anyone, and we certainly don’t owe it to men to fake emotions we’re not even having. Sadly, a lot of them have yet to get the message. Thanks again for speaking up.