There are a lot of gestures of body language that people can share with one another. It is my personal opinion that a heart felt genuine smile is probably the warmest of these gestures that can be performed without having to reach out and physically touch another individual. The right smile from the right person at the right moment can brighten our whole day no matter how bad it has been up until that point. When that smile comes from your own child it is probably one of the most beautiful sights that you as a parent will ever see.
When we tell someone to smile it may seem innocent enough, but if we really stop and think about it, it’s really not that innocent at all. It is invasive and dictatorial. It’s a violation of that persons body as well as their emotions. We may not be throwing them to a bed and raping them, but we are trying to impose our own will upon that person in a very real physical sense. When we tell someone to smile we are exercising power over them to get what we want. When someone rapes someone its not about desire, its about the exercise of power. Just like us the rapist takes what they want.
I realize that telling someone to smile may seem like a harmless gesture, but there’s nothing harmless about it at all. This is something that is done to women more times then it is done to men. When Hillary Clinton was running for office she was told to smile by a representative of MSNBC. The only woman who was running for office in the 2016 election was the only person who that representative told to smile. It doesn’t matter if you or I disagree with her politics and everything else that this vile woman has done. None of us have the right to violate her. But that is what MSNBC did to this woman. This is probably the only time that you would ever see me speak in defense of Hillary Clinton so you should probably save this article as a special collectors piece.
A woman was assaulted for no other reason than because she smiled at a stranger. According to the man who assaulted her in Malaysia when a woman smiles she is inviting a man to follow her. This is some random one out of every thousand occurrence. It happens every day. Not just to women, but to everyone. People find themselves attacked by random strangers all the time. A lot of those attacks started from a simple smile.
The very fact that we think that its okay to tell people to smile should be sending off red flags in ourselves as individuals and as a society in general. It objectifies the other person. When we tell someone to smile we are no longer treating them as a person who has feelings and rights of their own. We are objectifying them. We are telling them what they are meant to feel. It is condescending and allows us to passively draw the recipient of those words into what is possibly a conversation that they were never interested in having in the first place. Instead of taking the time and showing a genuine interest in how they feel we passively force them to do something that pleases us.
That is exactly what a school in North Lebanon County, Pennsylvania will be doing to children today and have been doing to children for a while now. For lack of a better way to describe his actions, Assistant High School Principal Benjamin Wenger rapes smiles out of his students. He uses his position in authority to violate those young kids who are entrusted to the care of his school every day. It is not even a rule in the school district itself. This is a personal preference that he forces others to comply with. Students who don’t smile are sent to the Guidance counselors office or given detention. To make matters worse not only are children being violated by the Assistant High School Principal Benjamin Wenger, but nothing is being done to protect these children and make them feel safer.
Society has taught us that it is okay to try to exercise control over someone elses body. We often times give others unsolicited advice on how they should think, act, feel, dress. I am guilty of this as well and I understand how it may seem harmless, but it isn’t. What we are really doing to others, even those who we don’t know is we are telling them that our wants out weigh their rights to their own body and their sense of self worth. The next time any of us think about telling someone else that they need to smile we should stop and put ourselves in their position. What if we had been having a bad day and found out that our significant other really was screwing the mail man or maybe a relative of ours has just died, would we really want someone to put us on display and tell us that we need to smile? Maybe its time that Americans come together and start a #Metoo movement that protects our smiles.