The solution to sexism starts with boys

8:27 a.m. You’re running late. You threw on your worst pair of jeans, the ones that have that coffee stain on them. It’s the first day of “that time of the month.” You didn’t do your hair. Your friends are trying to cause drama. It feels like stress has ceased to exist, and that this is now your permanent state of mind. 8:29. You make it into class not 10 seconds before the bell rings, and collapse into your seat. Deep sigh. You make unfortunate eye contact the wrong guy. “Smile, why don’t you smile? You’re so pretty when you smile.”

Stop.

Telling a woman to smile is objectifying, reducing her down to her physical appearance. What if she had any of the above going on? What if she currently has family troubles? What if she is concerned about her grade in math class? What if she just does not feel like smiling just to satisfy your ego? Most sports losses are enough to make a guy sulk, (shoutout to the Cubs for ending my 17 years of sulking), and when we are dealing with more serious things like grades or relationships, no woman has ever told a man to smile. Secondly, you are establishing that you have control of her body. YOU tell her when to smile, because she is YOUR object of affection. Grow up.

Do you think telling a woman to smile is degrading?

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As guys, really as men, it is our role to tell other guys when they are crossing the line. Boys who tell women to smile, or call them any assortment of derogatory terms that begin with B,C,W, or S just because a woman in their past rejected them will not listen to other women. It is weak to fall into the trap of generalizing women just because of your past experiences- not all women are the same.

It is up to men. Don’t let your friend cat-call women as you drive by them. Don’t let them call women names because they feel like they are entitled to do so. Don’t let yourself fall into this easy trap of hypermasculinity. Treat women with respect. Grow up, and be a man.

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