Smile, you have always been on Candid Camera

12 May

by Laura

Even bananas are in on it

Thank god Amanda reads Christopher Hitchens so I don’t have to. Jess and I found out a while back that Hitchens is friends with Martin Amis and Ian McEwan, and we fervently hope that all their nights out at the pub end with Amis and McEwan gutpunching Hitchens. Normally I don’t advocate violence, like, at all, but since Hitchens volunteered for waterboarding I think he can take a friendly British dude punch.

Anyway, Christopher Hitchens apparently thinks he has a right to see your pretty face without a veil, cupcake, because there lies the way of freedom. This reminds of Amanda of the Smile, Baby Guy (familiar to all women who have ever scowled, or just looked neutral, in public), who is possibly my least favorite version of John Q Public apart from actual assaulters.

I got “Smile, baby”ed a couple weeks ago; not surprising, as I am a lady and I walk a lot. But on this particular walk I was thinking a lot about my mom and how much I miss her, when this guy who was sitting on a bench at least 20 feet away from me hollered, “Smile, lady! It’s not the end of the world!” I was ready to yell “Fuck you” back at him, but there was no one else within, say, half a block, and I was worried he might come after me if I yelled. (Or, I suppose, just shoot me.) So I just looked at him with my eyebrows raised — decidedly not a smile — and he yelled, “That’s it! Not so hard!” I would describe my expression more as a bare-teeth grimace than anything resembling a smile. As always, he was not interested in making the world a happier place, but making a woman obey/pay attention to him.

The amount of self-control it took not to tell him to fuck off almost ruined my night–as of course did the internal monologue of “It’s not the end of the world but my mom just died so fuck you and your fucking fuckhead face, you fuck, fuck yourself sideways and also can you bring my mom back from the dead while you’re at it.”

Moral: Men, ordering a strange woman to smile for you is patronizing and demeaning. We are not your fucking pets. You do not have a right to see or control our faces. And Hitch, that goes double for you. If I saw you, I would put on a veil and then punch you in the gut and then ask Ian McEwan to explain why Atonement wasn’t as good as everyone said.

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