Carly Fiorina Just Called out a Classic Sexist Expectation of Women

October 29th 2015

Former Hewlett Packard CEO Carly Fiorina called out a sexist trope during Wednesday night's GOP debate, hosted by CNBC. Debate moderator Carl Quintanilla began with an unconventional question: "what's your greatest weakness?"

After many of the men on stage dodged the question, Fiorina stated that during the last debate she was told she didn't smile enough. None of the male candidates perceived their smiling as a weakness or weak point. Many on Twitter immediately picked it up as a not-so-veiled dig at the fact that women are constantly told to smile.

Related: Stretch Mark Shaming Is a Real Thing and Women Are Fighting Back

Women are scrutinized over weight, body type, stretch marks, thigh gaps and other inane standards. They are also often told to smile—whether it's a form of street harassment, or an accusation of having "resting bitch face," which the New York Times describes as "a face that, when at ease, is perceived as angry, irritated or simply … expressionless. It’s the kind a person may make when thinking hard about something — or perhaps when they’re not thinking at all."

Artists and Tumblr accounts document these double-standards, highlighting that telling a woman that she doesn't smile enough is yet another sexist societal expectation. One we should quickly break down.

Related: How Women Responded to Catcallers In The Past

It expects women to perform for male audiences—to look happy, perky, and approachable. Women who are not smiling, are often perceived of having a "bitchy" look on their face. This notion of women being "bitchy" if not smiling dovetails on the sexist notion that women are perceived as bossy or strident when they are assertive or not conforming to the standards of "femininity" placed on women by society.

Fiorina, a powerful women in her own right—a former CEO, and the only woman in the GOP field—should not be told to smile.

Related: Watch This British Comedian Slam Thigh Gap Standards

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