Why women smile

Jessica Hines @ Lens Culture

Alana Noel Voth explores the circles of abuse and violence @ Pank.

A writing mentor once told me I should remain forever dissatisfied with my world because satisfaction led to comfort and comfort led to complacency and complacency was a path to laziness, and laziness, everyone knows, enables ignorance. Do you believe that?

The most infamous bully in history, Adolf Hitler, once asserted in a speech, “Thank God people rarely take time to think.” Here was a man who rose to power on other people’s ignorance. After all, people who take time to think likely ascend into self-awareness, and self aware people are more empowered, and this spells disaster to a bully. A man like that will do anything to mollify you, soft at first like a hand moving over your face to cover your eyes. He knows what’s good for you. Listen. He’s a narcissist whispering in your ear; he’ll feign heart break even, persecution, and then grab you around by the hair. Manipulation, patronization, guilt, fear, ridicule, force—a bully pulls out all the stops until pretty soon, everything’s your fault. You can’t do anything right; which way is up?

An acquaintance recently told me she endures an abusive relationship to keep the peace. Better not to rock the boat by standing up for herself, and you can tell by her demeanor: she feels trapped, remains dutiful and resentful. I’ve known plenty of women like that, especially in this town. I ran from these women long time ago because I didn’t want to become them. Now I’m back. What do they want me to do? They tell me they have no choice, which makes me sick to my stomach, and I avoid them for fear I’ll become caught like a deer in headlights, the way these women smile at me.