Why No One Should Have To #SmileForJoe

Photo: latimes
hillary clinton

Save your breath, Joe. We don't need street harassment mansplained to us.

"Hey, baby, why don't you give me a little smile?"

It's the sort of thing most women have heard more times than they can count. It usually happens when you're alone, or maybe with a female friend or two. It doesn't usually happen when the whole damn world is looking.

But this week, for Hillary Clinton, it did.

As Clinton gave a victory speech in Florida, Joe Scarborough of Morning Joe decided to give Clinton a bit of unsolicited advice that made women everywhere collectively cringe:


This internet equivalent of very common street harassment has blown up on social media since the #SmileForJoe hashtag was created by Samantha Bee of Full Frontal. And guess what? Women aren't smiling, and they aren't letting Scarborough's comment slide.

While Scarborough may believe that this is a case of faux internet outrage, it's anything but, and his dismissive attitude amplifies his blatant misogyny. Telling a woman to smile isn't a friendly bit of advice. It's a power play it's sexual harassment.

The reason women are speaking out against it now is because it's a hell of a lot safer to air your grievances with sexism on the internet than it is to confront a stranger who might kill you. I cannot recall the amount of times I've been told by strange men to smile. What I can recall is the cocktail of rage and fear and adrenaline that kicks in every time I hear it.

As if the initial command to smile wasn't bad enough, Scarborough is now actively dismissing women and invalidating their feelings by refusing to apologize. Mansplaining his motives doesn't make it better, and telling women they're wrong for being angry is adding insult to injury.


Scarborough feels like he doesn't have to apologize because all the candidates are scrutinized, but this comment was very gendered and problematic. The fact that Scarborough doesn't understand the root of this outrage shows how deeply ignorant he is about the bias he's openly perpetuating against women.

He even went so far as to pull the "I don't see gender" card, saying, "I don't look at HRC as a woman anymore than I did Thatcher. I look at her as a tough candidate who can handle it."

He's right: Hillary Clinton can handle his harassment and far worse, but that doesn't mean she should. She's running for President of the United States, not competing in a beauty pageant. And come on, you don't see gender?

We're supposed to believe that the guy who just promoted common sexual harassment on the national stage is so evolved that he views all humans equally and without bias? Let's pack up ladies, feminism is solved. Give me a break.

Check yourself, Joe. Hillary Clinton doesn't have to smile for you, and neither does anyone else.