I don’t. I could stop smiling forever right now, and it would just make me a Very Serious Person. I remember job interviews — what I had to do was convince the committee that I had what it takes to do the job. “Ingratiating” could be a perfectly alien concept to me, and I could still function perfectly well.
So it’s eye-opening when Sady Doyle flips the table.
I watch Hillary Clinton’s face. She smiles. You always smile at the job interview. She smiles like a motherfucker, that woman.
She smiles while she assures the moderator that she won’t make her husband do stupid lady things like – ick! – decorating. She smiles while assuring the world she won’t forsake her duty as a woman, that she will still “pick the flowers and the china for state dinners and stuff like that.” She smiles while answering the question of whether female Presidents are fundamentally unnatural, whether she is fundamentally unnatural, whether electing her will emasculate not only Bill Clinton but the nation itself. And she has been the second-most popular Secretary of State in history, and she has been the member of the Obama administration with the highest approval rating, and she has been one of the most liberal Senators in Congress, and she has been an early pioneer whose work laid the ground for both CHIP and eventually Obamacare, and she has been one of the single most visible advocates for feminism globally and in the United States since the mid-90s, and she has done the work, the basic work level of the work, the coming-in-when-you’re-sick-don’t-be-late-don’t-take-a-vacation work, and she still has to answer this fucking question – the one that’s not about her, but about her gender; the one that’s not about policy, but whether she could govern in a way men can accept – but smiling is just what you do, if you’re a woman, and a feminist, and you have to field questions like these. You don’t challenge the premises. You don’t tell them to fuck off. You let them test you to see if you’re an angry feminist, and you pass the test by letting them insult you to your face and not getting angry. Because after everything you’ve done, everything you’ve fought for, that’s still what most men want to know. They want to know they can insult you and get away with it. They won’t work with you if they can’t.
Hillary Clinton lets them insult her with a smile on her face, because she wants the job. Because there is no way to just flip a table, throw the coffee, walk out of this bitch in protest, and get the job she wants. There never is. Not for her, not for me, not for any of us. She smiles.
So that’s what it looks like when a woman stops smiling. Like me.