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Women share their 'smiles' after news host tells Hillary Clinton to cheer up

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Anna Pollitt
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Bidding for leadership of the free world is a serious business, but a major network news host is of the opinion Hillary Clinton should cheer up [love] about it.

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough was firing out Twitter observances on Primary Day when he spotted something important. Clinton had just won the Missouri primary and was not smiling!

Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton. Not smiling for Joe.

The backlash against Scarborough's ill-advised comment was immediate and brilliant, with women everywhere taking up the challenge to #SmileForJoe.

An explosion of selfies showed women's glowering, bemused and incredulous responses:

Aside from the condescending and demanding tone in Scarborough's tweet, there's the subtle implication that Clinton should show gratitude for her win. Would Scarborough have turned smile police if it had been Bernie Sanders making the victory speech? 

Nah, a serious, finger-stabbing, tie-wearing man is above such irrelevancies. Women, on the other hand, well we just look more approachable and receptive when we smile. It's remiss of us to not to.

Antagonistic call outs in the vein of Scarborough's have long been a pain for women. Many articles over the past decade have picked over the sexist street remarks "smile" and "cheer up" women get from men they don't know. 

Even the type of men who still say them, dressing it up as banter, are now probably aware they're a cliche. For an influential news host to use the line on the woman who could be President is breathtaking. It's like Tom Bradby saying the Home Secretary should smile when she's introducing a new bill in the House of Commons.

Scarborough is not sorry for his tweet. He responded at length to the #SmileForJoe campaign with a column in The Washington Postin which he says he would never tell a woman walking down the street to smile, but was "critiquing" Clinton's political skills.

He also included a sarcastic defence that his tweet isn't as bad as it could have been.

"My seven-word tweet was the greatest offence committed against womankind since misogynists like Henry VIII and Bobby Riggs roamed the earth.” - Joe Scarborough

He regularly praises Clinton and often gives Trump and other male politicians a hard time, he argues.

But he misses the point that it is always criticism addressing their actions, never their looks.

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Anna Pollitt

Anna is a freelance writer and editor who’s been making her dime from online since 2007. She’s a regular at Stylist.co.uk, ITV News and Emerald Street and moonlights as a copywriter and digital content consultant. The baby is borrowed.

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