Even as I’ve slowed down (a lot!) on posting in this virtual space, I’m still thinking and reading about trouble. When I have a chance, I want to check out Rebecca Solnit’s The Encyclopedia of Trouble and Spaciousness. How is she using the term “trouble”? And why does she juxtapose it with spaciousness?
Yesterday I posted about Serena Williams as a troublemaking role model who, when asked why she wasn’t smiling and happy in a post-match interview–a question that is imposed of women all the time, resisted the demand to be a polite good girl and challenged the reporter’s right to even ask the question. This morning, while scrolling through some old tweets, I found another example of refusing to be smiley and likable: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her talk at the 2015 Girls Write Now Awards:
I think that what our society teaches young girls and I think it’s also something that’s quite difficult for even older women, self-confessed feminists to shrug off is that idea that likability is an essential part of the space that you occupy in the world….That you’re supposed to twist yourself into shapes and make yourself likable, that you’re supposed to kind of hold back sometimes, pull back, don’t quite say, don’t be too pushy because you have to be likable. And I say that is bullshit.
Yes it is.
This is how you should respond when a man asks why you’re not smiling… https://t.co/dvSpH1TCGu
— Mandy Van Deven (@mandyvandeven) September 10, 2015
Reporter: Serena, you just won the match, and … normally, you smile when you win … you laugh. What happened tonight, is it because you beat Venus or because you’re thinking about [the next match]? What’s wrong?
Serena: It’s 11:30 … to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t want to be here. I just want to be in bed right now, and I have to wake up early to practice. And I don’t want to answer any of these questions, and you guys keep asking me the same questions. So … you’re not making it super enjoyable. [laughs] Just being honest.
I love Serena’s response. Makes me think of my problematizer, Smile of Die! from a few years ago.