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Why Women Smile by Amy Cunningham: an Analysis

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Words: 616 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Words: 616|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Mar 20, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Analysis of Cunningham’s Arguments
  2. My Insights
  3. Implications and Recommendations

Amy Cunningham’s essay “Why Women Smile” delves into the societal expectation for women to smile and the implications of this expectation on women’s emotional labor and autonomy. Cunningham argues that women are often expected to smile to please others, and this expectation can be oppressive and limiting. In this essay, I will analyze Cunningham’s arguments and provide my own insights into the issues she raises.

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Analysis of Cunningham’s Arguments

Cunningham begins her essay by recounting a personal experience of being told to smile by a stranger on the street. She uses this experience to illustrate the pervasive nature of the expectation for women to smile, and how it can manifest in everyday interactions. Cunningham then explores the historical and cultural roots of the smiling expectation, noting that women have long been expected to be pleasant and accommodating to others. She also discusses the impact of this expectation on women’s emotional well-being, highlighting the emotional labor that women often have to perform in order to meet societal expectations.

One of the key points Cunningham makes is that the pressure for women to smile is often a way of policing women’s emotions and exerting control over their behavior. She argues that this expectation can be particularly burdensome for women who are dealing with difficult emotions or challenging circumstances, as it forces them to suppress their true feelings and prioritize the comfort of others. Cunningham also touches on the intersectionality of the smiling expectation, noting that women of color and working-class women may experience additional layers of oppression in relation to this expectation.

My Insights

As I reflect on Cunningham’s arguments, I am struck by the ways in which the expectation for women to smile reflects broader power dynamics in society. The demand for women to appear pleasant and accommodating perpetuates traditional gender roles and reinforces the idea that women exist to serve others. This expectation not only limits women’s autonomy and emotional expression but also contributes to the perpetuation of gender inequality.

Furthermore, the smiling expectation can also have implications for women’s mental health. Constantly suppressing one’s true emotions and prioritizing the comfort of others can be emotionally exhausting and detrimental to one’s well-being. Women should have the agency to express a range of emotions without fear of judgment or retribution. The insistence on women’s smiles as a means of making others feel comfortable ultimately denies women the right to authentic emotional expression.

Implications and Recommendations

Cunningham’s essay raises important questions about the impact of societal expectations on women’s autonomy and emotional well-being. It prompts us to consider the ways in which gendered expectations and norms contribute to the perpetuation of inequality and the oppression of women. In light of these insights, it is crucial to challenge the smiling expectation and work towards creating a more inclusive and equitable society.

One way to address this issue is to raise awareness about the harmful effects of the smiling expectation and advocate for more inclusive and empathetic social norms. This can be achieved through education, advocacy, and the promotion of empathy and understanding. Additionally, individuals can work towards creating spaces where women feel empowered to express their emotions authentically and without fear of judgment.

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In conclusion, Cunningham’s essay “Why Women Smile” offers a thought-provoking analysis of the societal expectation for women to smile and its implications for women’s autonomy and emotional well-being. Her arguments prompt us to critically examine the ways in which gendered expectations and norms shape women’s experiences and contribute to inequality. By challenging these expectations and advocating for more inclusive and empathetic social norms, we can work towards creating a more equitable and just society for all.

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This essay was reviewed by
Dr. Oliver Johnson

Cite this Essay

Why Women Smile by Amy Cunningham: An Analysis. (2024, March 20). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 21, 2024, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-women-smile-by-amy-cunningham-an-analysis/
“Why Women Smile by Amy Cunningham: An Analysis.” GradesFixer, 20 Mar. 2024, gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-women-smile-by-amy-cunningham-an-analysis/
Why Women Smile by Amy Cunningham: An Analysis. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-women-smile-by-amy-cunningham-an-analysis/> [Accessed 21 Jun. 2024].
Why Women Smile by Amy Cunningham: An Analysis [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Mar 20 [cited 2024 Jun 21]. Available from: https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/why-women-smile-by-amy-cunningham-an-analysis/
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