Sarah Sanders and the sexism of women

Thank White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders for the latest reminder that even women entrusted with high positions...

Posted: Feb 2, 2018 6:56 AM
Updated: Feb 2, 2018 6:56 AM

Thank White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders for the latest reminder that even women entrusted with high positions of authority can promote sexist ideas about women.

Appearing on CNN's morning program, "New Day," Wednesday, Sanders sang Donald Trump's praises for his State of the Union speech, and then delivered the jaw-dropping suggestion that House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi should smile more.

"That room ... was grossly divided, I've never seen Nancy Pelosi's face like that," said host Chris Cuomo, commenting on Pelosi's stony expression as she listened to the speech. "How can he unify that room?"

Sanders' response? "...I'm going to be a little bit in disagreement with you. I think Nancy Pelosi looks like that all the time. I think she should smile a lot more often. I think the country would be better for it. She seems to embody the bitterness that belongs in the Democratic Party right now."

While it should be no surprise that Sanders, who stands behind a podium with the White House seal and regularly lies to and misinforms the American people, would borrow a line from an average cat caller on the street, it is doubly upsetting for another reason: Sanders is only the third woman to serve as White House press secretary. Even people who oppose her boss's policies might have expected better from her.

But let's recall that her job is basically to justify the actions and/or deflect accusations away from of a man who was infamously heard, loud and clear on tape, boasting that serial sexual assault was a perk of his "star" status.

And to date, Sanders has covered for the President in the face of at least 15 women accusing him of sexual misconduct, repeatedly parroting his denials and throwing doubt on the women's stories. She has backed every anti-women policy of the Trump administration, on issues ranging from equal pay to reproductive health care.

Sanders' suggestion is a classic, sexist line as old as time. Regardless of how much harm or harassment a person consciously intends to cause a woman by using it, the request itself assumes that women owe the world -- and principally men -- something. They don't -- not even a smile.

Moreover, as writer Erika Hardison notes: "the sexualization behind telling women to smile is alarming. It makes women feel that we are only meant to be happy and pretty, and it's a passive way to engage into an unwanted conversation. Asking a woman to smile is a selfish act, and it's rarely in a caring tone; it's condescending and it turns a simple gesture into something sexual. Instead of asking a woman how she actually feels or being open minded to the idea she might not be interested, there are men that will berate a woman into doing something that she isn't comfortable doing. That is unacceptable."

Artist Tatyana Fazlalizadeh echoes Hardison's sentiments in her anti-sexual-harassment art series, titled "Stop Telling Women to Smile," in which she addresses gender-based street harassment by creating a visual and bold presence for women in an environment where they do not always feel comfortable or safe.

Sanders' comment was out of line. Pelosi's expression was not. Trump is not giving Democratic lawmakers, men or women, much to smile about.

Pelosi said as much in her tweeted response to Trump's speech, noting its self-congratulatory tone and lack of vision. "He promised unity, but sowed division," Pelosi wrote. "America deserves better."

Clearly, Pelosi is not happy with the President or his policies. So why should she smile?

As one of the most politically accomplished and experienced women in Washington, who has served her country far longer than both Trump and Sanders, it is disgraceful that either of them would try and reduce Nancy Pelosi to a "pretty woman" who should just be quiet and smile. Going way beyond partisan politics, Sanders' comments are offensive and demeaning to all women.

Even worse? The White House Press Secretary's comments are a depressing reminder of how women can be just as sexist towards other women as men.

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 133802

Reported Deaths: 2402
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin34033991
Ramsey14073360
Dakota9823138
Anoka8661150
Washington593272
Stearns582543
Scott338234
Olmsted325230
St. Louis296569
Wright248314
Clay229743
Nobles226816
Blue Earth20437
Carver17897
Sherburne168522
Kandiyohi16705
Rice163310
Mower151717
Winona125019
Crow Wing101022
Chisago10022
Lyon9656
Benton9409
Waseca9289
Beltrami8917
Otter Tail8627
Todd8055
Steele7593
Nicollet73017
Itasca72717
Morrison7269
Douglas6963
Freeborn6694
Polk6434
Le Sueur6235
Martin61317
McLeod5974
Goodhue58511
Watonwan5784
Becker5614
Pine5430
Isanti5415
Chippewa4353
Carlton4341
Mille Lacs40615
Dodge3940
Hubbard3902
Wabasha3780
Cass3705
Pipestone35017
Rock3284
Meeker3263
Brown3213
Unassigned29053
Yellow Medicine2836
Cottonwood2800
Murray2783
Redwood27511
Roseau2640
Fillmore2600
Renville25211
Sibley2523
Faribault2310
Wadena2313
Jackson2101
Kanabec20910
Houston2041
Swift2011
Pennington1911
Lincoln1820
Stevens1821
Aitkin1792
Koochiching1694
Pope1560
Big Stone1380
Wilkin1344
Lac qui Parle1333
Marshall1211
Lake1190
Norman1150
Mahnomen1132
Clearwater1110
Grant984
Red Lake782
Traverse560
Lake of the Woods441
Kittson400
Cook160

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 115574

Reported Deaths: 1621
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk18874288
Woodbury718394
Johnson584430
Black Hawk557498
Linn5513129
Dubuque518657
Scott454138
Story398918
Dallas344344
Pottawattamie323544
Sioux242516
Buena Vista225512
Marshall201436
Webster183015
Plymouth165727
Wapello152562
Clinton148326
Muscatine144258
Des Moines138610
Cerro Gordo136225
Crawford135514
Warren12477
Carroll114512
Jasper109634
Henry10545
Marion100710
Lee95410
Tama94437
Delaware77812
Dickinson7347
Wright7191
Boone7179
Mahaska68724
Bremer6719
Harrison65311
Washington65311
Jackson6283
Benton5812
Lyon5497
Clay5284
Louisa52115
Winnebago48719
Hardin4757
Winneshiek4749
Hamilton4684
Kossuth4660
Cedar4605
Poweshiek45611
Buchanan4514
Jones4444
Floyd43311
Emmet42917
Clayton4193
Iowa4059
Cherokee4022
Page3990
Mills3971
Sac3974
Guthrie39115
Cass3883
Franklin38018
Butler3782
Fayette3744
Shelby3721
Allamakee3638
Madison3603
Chickasaw3561
Clarke3493
Humboldt3233
Hancock3164
Palo Alto3102
Calhoun3074
Grundy3075
Osceola2791
Mitchell2750
Howard2699
Monroe25911
Monona2441
Jefferson2381
Taylor2362
Union2324
Appanoose2253
Pocahontas2232
Fremont2021
Lucas2016
Ida1922
Greene1860
Davis1764
Van Buren1742
Montgomery1737
Adair1611
Keokuk1601
Decatur1500
Worth1440
Audubon1421
Wayne1203
Ringgold882
Adams810
Unassigned260
Rochester
Clear
21° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 15°
Mason City
Clear
18° wxIcon
Hi: 30° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 10°
Albert Lea
Clear
19° wxIcon
Hi: 28° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 19°
Austin
Overcast
27° wxIcon
Hi: 29° Lo: 15°
Feels Like: 21°
Charles City
Broken Clouds
21° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 17°
Feels Like: 21°
Temps gradually warming through the week!
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Snow causes sales increase at local sporting goods store

Image

Initiative to make Rochester more age-friendly

Image

Sara's Evening Forecast - Monday

Image

Searching for Human Rights Coordinator

Image

PPE Supply at nursing homes

Image

Leadership Conference at RCTC

Image

Election Preview MN 26B

Image

Pop up Voting starts tomorrow

Image

Traffic Fatalities and Winter Driving

Image

Groundbreaking For New Regional Career Center

Community Events