Satire in Search of an Audience

*blinks* Well. There’s an article at Jezebel today that’s generating nothing but nonplussed WTFs in the comments. Kat George begs the cute guy at the cafe not to smile at her when she’s not made up:

Men should not publicly smile at women who have just rolled out of bed. Yes, this sort of behavior is romantic and sweet on Sunday mornings when you’re falling in love and the naked man next to you tells you how beautiful look in the dappled light, bare-faced and hair tousled. But in any other moment, attention on an intentionally sloppy looking lady in public reflects an extreme breakdown in communication; a man is acknowledging her existence before she has prepared herself to have that existence acknowledged. I’m not ready for that smile, buddy. I’m wearing last night’s eye makeup and comfy pants, and you’re supposed to see right through me. Please.

Most of Ms. George’s rant goes on in that vein, and it is that attitude which is getting a universally unimpressed reaction in the comments. Can’t a guy do anything right, he’s just being pleasant and friendly, not necessarily coming onto you, he can’t read minds, and so on and so forth. All astute criticisms, assuming the rant is meant sincerely and that the target of her annoyance really is the cute smiley guy at the cafe.


Am I alone here in spotting the satire?

It is not at the beginning of the rant, but at the end, that the true statement comes out:

Moreover, all the ladies’ magazines keep saying […], that if I feel good about myself — and that is to feel pretty, to perform my ritual — that will translate into my everyday ability to achieve various life goals that have absolutely nothing to do with the way I look.

So this is a note to Cute Smiley Guy In Local Café. Do not smile at me when I’m not wearing makeup. It makes my rituals meaningless. I mean, come on, dude, help me to feel like the time I put into taking pride in my appearance is worth it.

Emphasis mine.

If my reading is correct, this isn’t really aimed at the cute smiley guy. It’s a statement directed at the culture of femininity that says we’re supposed to sink inordinate amounts of time and money into looking decorative so that (among other things) men in public spaces will notice us. The implication is that if we go outside without “putting our faces on,” the menfolk will act like we don’t exist. (Although, as a personal aside: fine by me!)

The question, therefore, is really: if there’s a good-looking guy smiling at her even when she’s put absolutely no effort into her appearance, then, wait a minute, why does she have to put on mascara and lipstick, again?

Hence, the last sentence makes sense:

And one more thing (also directed at Cute Smiley Guy In Local Café): Call me.


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About alysonmiers

Alyson the Incorrigible of House Miers; High Priestess of Sparkly Fractal Flames; Summoner of Creative Insults; Wrangler of Adverbs, Semicolons and Conditional Clauses; Bane of Euphemisms; Mixer of Genres; and Mother of Witches.