“Hey, lady, why don’t you smile?”

I’m walking home from work. There’s a lot on my mind: my job, midterms, term papers. I just want to get home.

“Hey, lady!”

I barely even notice it at first. I’m in the middle of a college campus at night; you hear jeers like that so much it becomes normal. I wonder whether I have anything left at home to make for dinner.

“Hey, lady, why don’t you smile?”

This time I glance around. The voice is from a tall guy sitting on the student union steps, surrounded by his buddies. Of course to me almost all guys are tall: I’m barely over five feet.

“You, yeah, lady in the blue! Smile!”

My lips twitch, but nervously. I’m wearing blue. I avoid eye contact and walk faster.

“LA-DY. Walking in front of the LSU Student Union! Come on, can’t you smile?”

By then they’re already behind me, so they couldn’t see even if I did smile. My eyes are locked to the ground in front of me, my heart racing. Between here and my apartment there are two badly-lit stretches and one parking lot that’s always empty. What if these guys decide to follow me?

“Fine, I bet you just want to be sad!”

The voice keeps shouting at me until I reach the street. For all I know he’s still going on and I just can’t hear it. Or maybe they decided to get up and follow. I can’t bring myself to look back. If I look back they’ll know they got my attention. That’s the last thing I want.

The empty stretches back to my apartment seem twice as long as usual. Even after I check to make sure there’s no one following me, it feels like I’m being watched. It takes all the control I have not to slam the apartment door behind me and wake up my roommates.

Yeah, I really feel like smiling. Asshole.

– Anonymous

Location: LSU, Baton Rouge, LA

Share your street harassment story today and help raise awareness about the problem. Include your location and it will be added to the Street Harassment Map.


3 Responses to “Hey, lady, why don’t you smile?”

  1. Rachel Neal says:

    I can’t even count the number of times I’ve heard someone say to me, or to my sister, “hey, you’d be even prettier if you smiled” or “you should smile more” from random, strange men on the street. It’s very rude and offensive.

  2. ninyabruja says:

    I’ve told assholes several times if they want a smile to look in the mirror.

  3. Tyler says:

    People who ask this are incredibly rude. The last thing on my mind when I’m minding my own business is whether people think I’m upset or not because I don’t have a smile on my face. Happy and sad are not the only emotions.

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