If you watched the State of the Union last night, you probably couldn't help but notice the look on Nancy Pelosi's face. (Everyone else sure did.) If you ask me, it was just her resting face, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders apparently thinks it's a problem. Sarah Sanders said Nancy Pelosi should smile more, and her comments are really disappointing to hear.
On Wednesday, Jan. 31, Sanders appeared on CNN to discuss the State of the Union speech from the night before. After Chris Cuomo commented on the divisiveness in the room and Pelosi's facial expressions, Sanders responded:
“I think that 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 continued: "She seems to kind of embody the bitterness that belongs in the Democrat party right now."
Sanders was responding to Pelosi's facial expressions throughout the Jan. 30 State of the Union speech where Pelosi appeared to have a, shall we say, less-than-enthused look on her face. Soon after, screenshots of the politician at the event went viral. But Sanders clearly wasn't as entertained by it as everyone else was.
Honestly, Sanders' comments are really not OK.
Telling women they should "smile more" is a pretty standard sexist trope. So Sanders missed the mark with her comment — instead of highlighting how Pelosi seemed to give the president her undivided attention with direct eye-contact (regardless of her facial expressions) or addressing the divisive mood, Sanders critiqued the politician based on her interpretations of her demeanor and pushed her into general stereotypes. According to Sanders, since Pelosi wasn't smiling, it meant she was "bitter," and less invested in political progress. In addition to that, it's just flat-out sad that one powerful woman attacked another powerful woman for not smiling.
Twitter users despised Sanders' comments.
While it's upsetting to hear these type of comments come from one woman to another, it's not really all that shocking.
On Dec. 12, 2017, less than a day after Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called for President Donald Trump to resign from office amid several sexual assault and harassment allegations, he fired back on Twitter, saying she would "do anything" for "campaign contributions," which many took as a sexual slur. He wrote,
Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Chuck Schumer and someone who would come to my office “begging” for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump. Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!
Following a stir of controversy that resulted from Trump's tweet, Sanders backed the president during a press briefing the same day, denying his comments had been intended as a slur. She said, “I think only if your mind was in the gutter would you have read it that way, so no."
This isn’t new, this isn’t a new sentiment, this isn’t new terminology. He’s used it several times before. As I said a few minutes ago, he’s used it several times before referencing men of both parties in fact. I think that there if you look back at the past comment’s he’s made, it was very clear was his reference was.
But not everyone bought it.
And in October 2017, during a news briefing, a reporter questioned Sanders about the fact that Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women, asking if the White House's official position was that "all of these women are lying?" Sanders then responded, “Yeah, we’ve been clear on that from the beginning, and the president’s spoken on it," according to USA Today. (Trump also tweeted that he had never met his accusers.)
That said, I think Sanders could have done a little better with her response. Perhaps if she accepted it wasn't always necessary to be happy or positive, she could avoid situations like these.