Don’t Be Such a Girl! Science, Gender and Social Expectations of Faking Emotion


This guy always makes me smile.

In an interview for Wired magazine, Marianne LaFrance, an experimental psychologist at Yale University said,

“On average girls and women smile more. This appears to be a function of two things. Boys are encouraged not to smile very much. Expressivity is taken by some as sign of emotionality, of femininity, something many men wouldn’t be caught dead being associated with.”

It makes sense, really. We’re trained, as little girls, to make everyone feel better. We’re told to smile when things get stressful, to smile when we greet someone, in photos, to even smile at strangers we don’t even know. When we don’t, people get worried. “Are you ok?” they ask. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?” Socially, it’s expected. Girls are not really given the option to avoid smiling.

Men and boys, on the other hand, are not expected to smile on command (either spoken or unspoken). If a man never smiles, people call him focused, intense, serious. Alternately, if a man does happen to smile, it’s kind of like a bonus. He’s a nice guy, he’s friendly. But if he smiles too much? It’s just as isolating. He’s insecure; he’s fake.

If a woman rarely smiles, she’s labeled as moody, unhappy, stressed out. She takes herself too seriously.  She can’t handle pressure. If you don’t feel like smiling? Too bad. Fake it.

Adrian Furnham Ph.D.,  argues that Southerners smile more than other regions in the US. This also makes sense because we’re often taught (especially as Southern women) to be overly concerned with others and their comfort, and smiling indicates friendliness. To not smile is to be sullen, rude. Nobody likes rude little girls. Nobody likes rude women.

We even have rules about genuine smiles and fake smiles:

I have a proposal.

I think we should teach our little girls to smile when they want to. Let’s try to not pressure them into fake happiness for the benefit of others. Let’s teach our little boys that’s it’s ok to smile if they feel like it. Let’s begin as early as possible, demonstrating to our kids that genuine feelings and the expression of feelings is appropriate and ok. That doesn’t mean they get a license to be brats, by any means. It just means they are allowed to be genuine. Is it too much to hope that social expectations might shift, just the slightest, to allow our sons and daughters to be able to express their true emotions without judgement? I’d like to think so.

It makes me smile just thinking about it.

5 Ways to Help Your Kid Get More Sleep

Tina Bausinger

Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas. Mancub at age 10 sleeping on the way home from Arkansas.

Remember the good old days when all you had to do was say, “Ok kids! Bedtime!” and your kids would happily obey, their smiling faces hugging and kissing you goodnight? Me neither. This has never happened in the history of the WORLD. If you have the perfect family that is described in this scenario, I dare you to drive to Texas and tell me to my FACE.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but getting your teen to bed is sometimes just as hard as it was when he was little…and teens are way sneakier than their cute toddler counterparts.It’s time to get ready for school, and your Mancub is not cooperating. You knock gently, then louder, to only hear a muffled noise that resembles English but makes no sense. It’s happened again, hasn’t it? When our…

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Jen Hatmaker’s “What Would My Mom Do? Drink Tab and Lock Us Outside.” You’re welcome.

Me and Mom circa 1975

Me and Mom circa 1975

I’m one of Jen Hatmaker’s biggest fans, and every time I read her writing I have another reason to keep loving her! Please enjoy this link to her post. It’s awesome.

In the Gray: 5 Things You Need to Know About Liberal Christians

Tina Bausinger


I stumbled across David Schell’s excellent article, “Unacceptable: What it’s like to be a liberal Christian in a sea of conservatism” and I experienced a feeling very similar to when I first read Sarah Bessey’s Jesus Feminist: a feeling of coming home.

It’s been a tough time getting here. For years, I have felt left out, hiding in the shadows with my feelings of never quite fitting in with any church I joined, and never quite being able to pinpoint why.

This last year has been one of self-exploration. I’ve read more books on theology in the past year than I have in my whole life. Far from thinking I’m alone, I continue to find companionship and acceptance from others.

David Schell’s article tackles many of the problem areas I’ve discovered in my years “the gray.”

1. First of all, that it’s a possibility to be both Liberal and…

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Just Ask! 5 Ways to Dreaming Big and Setting Goals

Tina Bausinger


In the past couple of years, I’ve had quite a few adventures. Many of these events in my life would not have happened had I listened to that voice in my head that says, “You can’t do that! Who do you think you are?” I hate that guy.

Here are some of the things I’ve been able to do by simply ASKING: writing a humor column for a college newspaper, speaking at a major writers’ conference in Dallas–twice. Writing book reviews for a magazine (where I get paid to read fabulous books, and get the books for free), and getting my novel published. A couple of times I’ve been on a talk show to promote my book.

If you’re wondering: I’m not great-looking, super smart or even well-spoken. I’m just bold and kind of tenacious and maybe a tad obsessive. But I also battle laziness and a dislike for rejection. But…

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4 Paths To Publishing for Newbies

Tina Bausinger

So you’ve finished your novel, and think it’s ready to go. Of course you know that self-publishing is an option, but for your particular work you’d like to get it into the hands of an agent or a smaller press. How do you go about finding someone to publish it?
1. Get a copy of the 2014 Writer’s Market. This will help you locate people or presses interested in your particular genre. If you write Young Adult fiction and approach a publisher or agent who only handles horror, you’re wasting your time. It’s like offering a steak to a vegan. No dice.
2. You can also get a copy of the 2014 Guide to Literary Agents if you don’t want to consider a smaller press. A large press is harder to pitch an unpublished writer to, so you must have an agent for representation. This book is an expansive…

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On The Value of Listening

It's always safe to say, "Would you like some coffee?" That's a good one.

It’s always safe to say, “Would you like some coffee?” That’s a good one.

It’s so important to take time to listen to people. It’s the easy way out to simply talk over them or interrupt, believing our story is more important. It’s not that my story isn’t important. It’s just that maybe it’s your chance to be heard.

It’s a helpless feeling to feel silenced or ignored. It’s a frustrating, demeaning and humiliating finger poking deep inside. It’s the haunting suspicion that nobody cares. It’s the resounding conclusion that we are insignificant.

If you want to be a good friend, listen when words are trying to slip into the conversation like unobtrusive ghosts. Be perceptive enough to notice the awkward silences that don’t make sense. Care enough to focus on the person talking, to pay attention to her body language, to notice whether his eyes meet yours or seem too heavy to do so.

Almost as important, listen to what is left unsaid. Wait for a  pause in the conversation, the slow sigh of frustration that signifies the inability to put feelings into sentences, words, letters. Sometimes the deepest hurts or the unspoken terrors do not make themselves appear in language. It’s in the eyes of the storyteller. It’s in the quick heartbeat that he is sure you can hear too. It’s in the tears that spill out. It’s in the catch of the breath as she tries to restrict a sob.

It’s been said, “When someone shows you who they are you should believe them.” I agree, but want to add this: when someone tries to tell you who they are, listen to them. Don’t fidget or look at your cell phone or walk around looking for something else to do. What’s most important is happening now.

Just listen.