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"Don't Smile"??? Poppycock. [Oct. 11th, 2016|01:52 pm]
[Current Mood |annoyed]

Policing of women's facial expressions goes on, including by women.   Hillary Clinton has been chided by reporters for "not smiling enough" when discussing serious things, and now comes a woman complaining that she smiled too much at the town-hall debate.  This article in the NYT, http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/projects/cp/opinion/clinton-trump-second-debate-election-2016, by Judith Shulevitz (first part, titled as above) really ticked me off.   (Warning: this is about politics and sexism.  There are other places to read if you're tired of either.)

Ms Shulevitz suggests that Clinton's performance on the town-hall debate was bad because she smiled too much--she even appeared amused at times, while Trump was playing the glowering, bullying thug and threatening her with arrest and imprisonment if he was elected. Ms Shulevitz felt it was wrong, in the presence of so much menace, to smile.   She said that Clinton "needs to show us that she understands the gravity of the situation. She needs to help us bear our anxiety."

I'm sorry, Ms Shulevitz, but that's wrong.  If you think one must not smile or laugh  in the presence of danger, on the brink of the abyss, when confronted with the monster, you do not know much about the nature of courage, of high character.   Clinton was not unaware of the gravity of the situation, of the threats Trump made both to her and to the integrity of our form of government.   But--as a person of great courage and competence, she reacted with uncowed spirit appropriate to the threats he made.   I wish you had been following the commentary on social media, especially Twitter, where hundreds of other women (in my tweet stream alone) expressed admiration, expressed both their understanding of the threats and their appreciation of Clinton's courage, coolness, self-possession, and yes--ability to smile, even laugh at times.   They expressed their gratitude for her ability, and that it did help them bear their anxiety.  I wish those women had had the chance to write a piece for the NYT.  You might have read their essays and learned something.  Smiling at the enemy, laughing in the face of danger, does not discount or ignore the danger--it is an expression of undaunted courage and determination, common to men and women.

Meanwhile, in the next section of the same article, there's Susan Chira announcing that Clinton looked "stony-faced" while Trump was throwing out his various threats.  (Where Shulevitz and Chira watching the same person?  Or, if you gave them still photos of hte same moment, would one say "Oh, but she's smiling too much" while the other one said 'No, she's stony-faced."   It would be interesting to know if either woman has seen a video of herself in a difficult situation where etiquette demands staying put and not losing her temper or bursting into tears.  I strongly suspect not.   I wonder what they thought of the videos from the endless Benghazi hearings (the last clearly nothing more than an attempt to discredit the other party's candidate.)   But I don't care what they thought: I care that all each of them saw was a facial expression they could comment on.

And in general it infuriates me that even women continually police other women's expressions, clothes, hair, as if they were each the ultimate arbiter of appropriateness.  No, women, you are not.  I am not.  Nobody is.   If you must police hair, eyes, mouth, nose, hands, feet, choice of clothes on other people, spend that time and energy on men for a change.  Are their eyes too big or too small?   Do you like their manicure?  Do they smile enough?  Too much?  Inappropriately?  Is their voice strident, too loud, too soft, too accented?   Should their beard be different shape (or not exist?)   Suggest that male candidates should restyle their hair, lose 20 pounds, change their shoe style, wear cuffed (or uncuffed) pants, a suit of a different color, and so on.  Give all other women in the world a rest for at least 90 days.  Because the men will go right on policing women, and it's just too much gravy for you to be pecking at the same target, and too much grief for other women to take it from men and women both.  And in the meantime, have yourself videotaped while you give a speech, or have a debate, or stand up to comment in a school board or city council meeting.  Notice how much you like being told to smile, or not smile, or whatever.

Finally, I--and a lot of other people--thought Clinton's ability to remain calm, cool, controlled, and yet appear relaxed and confident was a big factor in her success.  She didn't glower, make faces, furrow her brow, nor was she showing a silly grin all the time--she smiled when she should have, and didn't when she shouldn't have, in both cases showing her mastery (and yes, that's a masculine noun) of the situation. 

(Oh, and it would've been nice if Ms Chula had mentioned that those "facts" Trump had collected, and that she was impressed by--over 80 of them weren't facts at all.  They were non-facts at best, lies at worst.)


From: (Anonymous)
2016-10-11 07:43 pm (UTC)


And of course the 2020 election season kicks off as soon as Ms. Clinton buries (bad words bad words) Trump at the polls.

I find it really sad that we apparently won't or can't live in peace with our sisters.

Jonathan up in New Hampshire
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From: geekmerc
2016-10-11 08:51 pm (UTC)
This entire election really reminds me of the brokenness of our two party system and our government as a whole.

I don't know much about Gary Johnson or Stein. It would be nice, and you'd think appropriate, that at least the top 3 or 4 candidates were in the debates instead of requiring the higher poll numbers that push to keep the two party system pure.

I am of the opinion that neither of the people who are likely to be president due to our broken system deserve to be.

I sometimes wonder if this election is election theater, similar to the security theater we do with TSA.

Interestingly, if we didn't have party primaries and just voted outright, Oklahoma would probably have voted for Bernie Sanders. He had more votes in the democratic primary than Ted Cruz did in the Republican Primary. Trump is 4th on the list, but the system will have Oklahoma voting for Trump despite the true preferences of its citizens.

Texas was Cruz, Hillary, and then Trump. Guess which way it will vote now.

Edited at 2016-10-11 08:54 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: e_moon60
2016-10-12 07:39 pm (UTC)
We could get into a wrangle about what "deserves to be President" really means. But let's not, at least not today (busy day down here.)

I consider Hillary the most qualified candidate of all the ones in the primaries in all the parties.

Stein and Johnson are both one-trick ponies. Stein is a well-trained and polished one-trick show-pony. Johnson is a pony with an appealing face and unruly mane, "ragged and shaggy and full of fleas, and never been curried below the knees" as the old cowboy song has it. My opinion, but I've followed the career of Stein and the performance in the last year of Johnson.

Unfortunately for them, the office of the Presidency requires (to stick to equestrian terminology) a full-size powerful performance horse that can win world-class combined training events plus work cattle plus has the endurance to win the Tevis Cup on the hottest day of the year. Dressage, jumping big obstacles at speed, standing firm with an 800 pound critter on the other end of a rope, cutting out the one that needs catching from the herd, covering the roughest terrain through the whole of a long day and then getting up the next to go back to work. One-trick ponies just aren't fit for the job.

So back to the human side, there was only one person in the race from day one who had *demonstrated* the breadth of knowledge, skills, and experience that a President needs. Is Clinton perfect? Of course not. There's never been a perfect President yet. There never will be. Do I have points of disagreement with her? A few, yes. But on the checklist I had made before the campaigns started, she's the only one that even halfway filled it up and she was beyond that. All the GOP, non-starters from day one. Democrats--I liked Bernie early on, but it takes more than the same basic message and enthusiasm. He was weak on far too many segments of the job.

We must agree to disagree as I have to get back to work.
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[User Picture]From: sharrainchains
2016-10-15 03:20 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your comparison of Sanders and Clinton! I love the equine analogies.
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[User Picture]From: livejournal
2016-10-11 09:36 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: msminlr
2016-10-12 01:12 pm (UTC)
For some reason, this business about Ms. Clinton's smile reminds me of the tale of Davy Crockett grinning-down a bear.
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[User Picture]From: sharrainchains
2016-10-15 03:21 pm (UTC)
An excellent response to the Clinton critics who just don't seem to understand the sexism they are displaying.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2016-10-20 12:28 am (UTC)
As a target of rather constant attempted face-policing my whole life, I wholeheartedly agree with you.

- "Is something wrong?" "No.. I'm fine." (looking a bit surprised, confused, or neutral) "Oh, it's just that you're not smiling."

- Accusations of looking/being too serious, told to "lighten up" even when I'm perfectly chilled out and content, because my expression and tone is neutral.

- On the thankfully rare occasion, accusations of being angry because my expression and tone were neutral, and the person in question "expected" me to be smiling and joyful to express my lack of aggression during conversation.

- "You should smile more (it makes you look pretty)" etc. -- I'm aware this one is intended as a compliment, but it still triggers some grievance in me on a deeper level, sometimes more than others, depending on the person and the situation. Some people will become rude, judgemental, or dismissive when I do not comply and start smiling to please them.

It's tiresome.
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[User Picture]From: gifted
2016-10-20 12:47 am (UTC)
When you mention Clinton being the most qualified candidate, I assume you haven't heard the tapes of her laughing about how she got a child rapist off in her early law career, despite knowing he was guilty, and that the evidence they had tested, proving his guilt, was unfortunately made inadmissible:

Link leads to youtube, audio file of Clinton discussing the case.

The victim, on Clinton: "It's proven fact, with all the tapes, she lied like a dog on me. I think she was trying to do whatever she could do to make herself look good at the time.

"She didn't care if those guys did it or not. I do not think justice was served at all.

"She owes me a big apology, I'll probably never get anything from her."

The victim was 12 when Clinton's client raped her.


Clinton is a good actor, I'll give her that.

Trump would not have been any better tbh. I fear this election, more than ever, was a popularity war between sociopaths who see the world as their plaything, and will do anything to have what they want.

Edited at 2016-10-20 02:34 am (UTC)
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