Like most career women, it's been a struggle to be taken seriously at the office. The Mad Men days of chauvinistic bosses leering and assuming I'll bring them coffee may be over, but now the problem is everyone thinks I am too serious.
In short, I have become infamous around the office for my RBF or "resting b*tch face". Being tough, firm and professional has stigmatised me. Of course, no one has said it directly to my face, b*tchy or otherwise, but the inference is there in their tone of voice.
"Are you OK today?"
"Were you in another fight with your boyfriend?"
"Did another sales clerk say, 'this cream will take years off your face, ma'am'?"
People are assuming I am miffed when I am having a perfectly fine day. Do I have to pretend I'm a Miss Hong Kong contestant even during budget review meetings? Frankly, it hurts my feminine pride to be disparaged simply because I am not perky enough. If I was to act on my RBF, I might want to smack someone.
No doubt, morale at the office would improve if I was chirpy as a chipmunk, and brought in home-baked cupcakes every day. Well, too bad. I wish my co-workers looked more like Channing Tatum and smelled less like Shrek. But I don't think that's going to happen either.
Of course, there's a sexist undertone to the whole idea that only women can have RBFs. As if for some of us, it's our default condition to be a spiteful, conniving shrew. Or they just think we are predisposed to look like that time of the month every day of the month.
Nobody complains about guys who are stern and dour all the time. They don't ridicule Donald Trump for his glum pout. Nobody says Vladimir Putin has a snooty nose. There is no insinuation that men are arrogant jerks when they don't smile because it's okay for them to be arrogant jerks (see Trump and Putin).
But women at work have to pretend we want to mother you when we would rather bash you in the face for your incompetence.
The only females for whom RBF is acceptable are fashion models. It is perfectly acceptable that they look aloof, arrogant and annoyed. It's part of their job to project that they're too good for us. In some cases, I'm sure for some girls it's just not easy to concentrate, wear clothes and walk at the same time.
As for the rest of us, we just have to accept that RBF is the unavoidable consequence of being a strong, confident and resolute woman. Yes, acting like a man is a b*tch.