Why I Don’t Smile

I have what pop culture now refers to as RBF (resting bitch face). When I’m not smiling, I can look really pissed off. For a lot of my life, it was a result of my actually not being happy. For others, it was because I thought I would look weird walking around with a giant smile on my face.

Now, in my 30s, it’s for a very specific reason. And before I elaborate, yes I fully understand that this behavior is probably not helping me in meeting a guy (on those days when I actually want to meet one). That specific reason is when I’m out on my own and come across anyone male. As an example, I was coming out of my water aerobics class the other night and a guy started walking across the lot in my general direction. I grabbed a hold of my pepper spray and put on the nastiest RBF I could find and glared at him.

Most women I think will fully understand why I do this, but for those that don’t…let me elaborate. As a woman out in the world, you’re not safe going anywhere alone. Period. Especially not at night. As a disabled woman who is even more of a walking target, it can be even more dangerous. We don’t live in a world where men are taught to respect women and taught not to rape and demean us. We’re taught that we shouldn’t have been wearing those clothes or walking out that late at night. It’s always our fault. I can’t tell you how many stories I’ve read where a female simply smiled at a guy in a store or in passing and then ended up getting followed or attacked seconds afterwards. These sickos take a smile as a signal meaning “oh she totally wants it.” Even a friendly conversation in a super market can lead to a woman being attacked.

So that’s where my RBF comes in and why I don’t smile in certain situations. It’s not because I’m not happy. It’s not even because I don’t want to smile anymore. It’s because I’m not taking any chances on giving any guy the idea that I’m a victim or someone who can be attacked. I’m willing to risk meeting a nice guy to protect myself. It’s pathetic that I have to do this. Once again, the responsibility falls on us women to protect ourselves and be on alert. We should be able to stumble home to our dorms drunk in college if we want to without a single worry, just like guys can. But even more so, we should be able to simply run an errand at night or walk across a parking lot without having to worry we’re going to get raped or murdered.

Welcome to a day in the life of a women in this society…


3 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Smile

  1. It’s a big shame that in our societies, a dress, or a single smile can be taken as reason to attack womem. Myself have been attacked for far less. I’m not sure if not smiling is really safe. The more we age the less we smile. This is sad.

    1. It is really sad. It’s sad and it’s infuriating. We should be able to smile as much or as little as we want. Wear what we want. Go out safely no matter the time of day. It’s ridiculous. I’m sorry you were attacked too 😦 I wish we lived in a world where no woman ever was attacked or had to worry about being attacked.

  2. Hey Jackie,

    YESSS!! You just hit the nail on the head with this post. First though, I have to say that your blog is awesome and it is honestly such a great thing for EVERYONE to read. I know you mentioned in a previous post that you didn’t want this to become your personal diary or a place to vent and I just wanted to assure you that it is not. Your blog builds on a sense of community within people who share your diagnosis, their family and friends, and so many others. For me, a graduate student in an occupational therapy program, your blog is only helping me become a better OT in the future because a lot of my future career is relating to clients and building a trusting relationship with them. So just for the record, this blog is absolutely selfless and a huge help to so many people.

    But back to this post specifically, I appreciate you addressing this issue with such clarity and explanation. There’s no denying the fact that we live in a pretty scary world and as women, we do have to take extra precautions with men…then take into account having a disability and I can only imagine that extra fear it brings to you. We’ve all had personal experiences of feeling unsafe and it’s a terrifying thing that really sticks with you. What’s almost just as scary is that I have no clue how to fix this or even where to start. I wish we could all live our lives without any fear but it’s so much easier said than done and for me, it’s just unrealistic. Your blog post had such an impact on me because it actually opened my eyes up as to a place to start with this issue… by refusing to pretend that gender differences don’t exist. You’re addressing this issue with so much honesty and I really appreciate it. It’s truly inspirational and thanks for it!

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