Tag Archives: henry rollins

stop telling me what to do with my face

A couple of years ago I saw an interview with Henry Rollins where he said that people always ask him why he looks so angry all the time. He said his face is in a “relaxed state of aggression,” meaning his face at rest just looks, you know, kind of pissed off.  He’s not mad (well, except for in that “Liar” video), he just looks that way.  I can relate.  My eyebrows naturally seem to gravitate downward.  All too often I notice that I’ve been frowning — like, aggressively, like so aggressively that my brow is furrowed to the point where I already have wrinkles in it at 25 — for god only knows how long.  I can’t help it.  My face just wants to look that way.

Henry’s lucky.  He’s lucky because he’s big and scary-looking and intimidating and he’s a man, so when people assume by his default expression that he’s angry or upset, they simply give him a wide berth.  On a man, a constant look of mild annoyance says don’t fuck with me, and people don’t.  I bet that no one has ever stopped Henry Rollins on the street and told him to “smile!”

But if you’re a woman with a face in a relaxed state of aggression, you’re not so lucky.  When you’re a woman this affliction is called Bitchface and it causes people — well, men, really — to stop you on the street and say “Buck up!” and “It can’t be that bad!” and “Smile, honey!”

Chronic Bitchface” by Kris Atomic, an accurate representation of my daily life.

Why is this okay?  Why is it okay for men to tell women what to do with their faces?  Have you ever seen a man minding his own business get stopped and told to arrange his mouth in a fashion more aesthetically pleasing to those around him?  Probably not, because the act of telling absolute strangers to look happier is totally sexist.  I know that most men who go around telling women to smile are well-meaning, but still, why is it any of your business what my face looks like?  If I’m not crying or scowling then why can’t my expression just be neutral?  Does anyone actually just go around smiling like a loon all the fucking time?

Whether they realize it or not, men tell women to smile because if we don’t conform to their stereotype of charming flowers with heads full of glitter, it makes them uncomfortable.  A woman with a stern expression looks like a woman who’s thinking about Serious Things, and men are conditioned not to like that.  They want us happy, but more than that, they want us compliant.  Maybe they don’t think that’s what they’re saying to us when they tell we perfectly cheerful women without exceptionally cheerful faces to cheer up, but that is what they’re saying.  Every time I hear someone telling me to smile, I hear a man telling a woman to do something that he would never ask another man to do.

I have three stock responses when strange men tell me to rearrange my expression.  The first is to say “No, thank you.”  You’d be amazed at how much this simple reply takes people aback.

The second is to smile as horrifyingly as possible.

Guys love that.

The third response is best when I have a little bit of extra time or if the offender seems nice enough and merely ill-informed.  I like to tell men that if they want women to smile, instead of just shouting, apropos of nothing and for no legitimate reason, “SMILE!”, why not do something that actually elicits a genuine positive response?  Instead of a command, try an unsolicited compliment, a heartfelt greeting, or — who’da thunk — a smile.  If you want me to smile, do something that will actually make me smile.

Otherwise, stop telling me what to do with my face.


summer love, punk rock style part 2

My friend Allison is a punk rock megababe from Brea who likes baking, Lemmy, and being a creep.  She chimed in with a few of her favorite romantic punk jams on my post a few days ago, and her picks were all so spot-on that I invited her to make her own list for you guys!  After you’ve checked out her top ten punk rock love songs, you should probably follow her on Twitter @AllisonMarie666.  Thanks again for contributing, Allison!  Here are her picks and commentary:

1. Silly Girl – The Descendents

Allison says:  I have no idea how Milo ever got turned down by any girl.  If I were ever to be serenaded by him, I would instantly melt. This song is so adorable, it makes you feel like you’re 14 and you just got your first boyfriend. Then again, just about every Descendents song about a girl makes me feel that way.

2. I Wanna Be Your Boyfriend – The Ramones

Allison says: A classic! What better way to tell a girl how you really feel then to just let her know you wanna be her boyfriend. Probably one of the best ways to ask out any girl in a studded belt that you’re crushing on.

3. Please Don’t Touch – Motörhead/Girlschool

Allison says: Who would have thought Motörhead to be romantic? There are quite a few Motörhead songs that could have made the list, but I find this one to be the best (although “Jailbait” was a close second).  Sara adds: Oh, hell yeah.  When Lemmy remembers the first time he took her to a cheap motel, I get these weird tingles.

4.  GG Allin & the Jabbers – Cheri Love Affair

Allison says: I mentioned this one in my original comment, but I had to include it again. While he keeps it kinda sleazy with lines like, “looking at you make me cream in my jeans”,  GG redeems the sweetness by saying “I’d like to take ya to a real nice place”.  Dinner and sex, anyone?

5. Iggy & the Stooges – I Wanna Be Your Dog

Allison says: This song screams sweaty, sticky, summer love. A few beers, this record, a hot boy, and you are instantly in the heavy petting mood.

6. Nasty Facts – All Half Yours
(so fuckin punk it’s not even on Youtube!)
Allison says:
I didn’t hear about this band till I recieved my very own punk rock love song mix. This song is playful and fun, and perfect for that summer fling you may find yourself in.

7. The Damned – New Rose

Allison says: “I’ve got a feeling inside of me, it’s kinda strange like a stormy sea” — Isn’t this the way everyone feels when they start to fall in love without knowing it?

8. Stiff Little Fingers – Barbed Wire Love

Allison says: This one was chosen because it holds more sentimental value than anything. This song is great, Stiff Little Fingers is great, and it reminds me of being 18 and in love.

9. Black Flag – Slip It In

Allison says: This one is kinda a creeper on the list. I mostly put this on here for me. Something about Henry Rollins is so undeniably sexy, and listening to this song instantly makes me wanna make out. I’m kind of a pervert, Henry Rollins is a total babe, and so this made it!

10. The Undertones – Teenage Kicks

Allison says: I almost forgot about this one, and then I kicked myself in the ass for doing so. This song describes all the best parts about being young and in love, and is definitley in the top 10 punk rock love songs of all time.

Dude, she’s right on, right?  What are your punk rock love picks?  Let me know, and who knows, maybe you can make your own list!