These posters have been pasted up (usually at night) in pedestrianised cities across America. In Chicago posters were defaced with the words 'slut', 'liar' and 'whore'. Fazlalizadeh told the Telegraph "All this work is asking you to consider the fact that a lot of women, including myself, don't like this behaviour and don't want to be treated this way - it makes us feel as if we are outside to entertain you and we are not here for that".
The trouble with street harassment that consists of so called compliments or are of a 'friendly nature' is that it's very hard to get people to recognise that it is street harassment. Instead a man saying "smile!" to a lone woman is often seen as some kind of verbal equivalent to an avuncular chuck on the chin.
how quickly a smile request can turn nasty. Yet women are repeatedly asked what their problem is.
The posters put up in New York city have sparked a written debate on the work on whether the 'smile' catcall is good or bad. Fazlalizadah says: "The point isn't to stop interaction between men and women at all. I speak to men and women outside on the street all the time...But it is promoting the idea that women have agency over their bodies and how they want to be treated and interacted with outdoors. So if I say I don't want you to tell me to smile, that doesn't mean I don't want you to talk to me at all, it means I don't want you to tell me what to do with my face."
It is interesting to see the reaction to the Telegraph article - at the point of writing there are four comments. Two are positive. One is from a woman who finds catcalling flattering, which is dismissive of those who don't and shows how much this depends on context, looking at the Everyday Sexism Project it appears some women can't go out without being told how beautiful she is, this is not OK but sometimes on low days I admit does not sound so terrible. But it is not up to me to interpret it.
Another comment is kind of baffling to me but has been up voted eight times: "'I am not your property. You are not in control of my body.' Fine, but then do not ask ME to pay for your medical care. After all it's YOUR body, not mine." I'm not sure Right Field Ball is aware of how tax works, or perhaps he is not UK based. But it's a huge leap to link a request to be able go about your business without harassment and refusal to contribute in any form towards women's health.
Hey guys, it's just a request to leave us to our resting bitch face. Take it as an excuse, a holiday from having to compliment us. I don't know what your problem is.