It’s not tantamount to sexual assault, but telling a woman to smile is certainly in poor taste and more than questionable when it comes from a married politician.
Speaking with MSNBC’s Katy Tur, Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, encouraged the dour-looking journalist not to get so down about the state's looming gubernatorial race. The father of five told the recently married anchor “I just want you smiling,” before adding that “Virginia’s for lovers.”
Maybe the governor wasn’t flirting and maybe this isn’t that big of a deal. Sometimes accidental misogyny just happens. Rewind to 2016 though, and remember when Reince Priebus suggested on Twitter that Hillary Clinton’s failure to smile on the debate stage made her seem distant. That tweet launched at least a thousand think pieces. Now, when a Democrat politician does it, nobody notices.
Maybe the debate critique Reince offered was different in substance and tone than McAuliffe’s weird dad-flirting. If Hollywood and D.C. want to get serious about sexism, perhaps they should start applying the standards equally. In the meantime, the sitting governor of Virginia should stop flirting with the news anchor.