First, it was her shoes. Then her 'fake' smile. And now, yet another irrelevant aspect of Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris's appearance and behaviours is doing the rounds on social media - her laughter.
The trolling came from none other than incumbent Republican United States President Donald Trump who is running for a second term against Democratic nominee Joe Biden. On Monday, while addressing one of three rallies, Trump made a rather irrelevant point to attack Harris, the first-ever Asian-American and Black woman to get a VP candidacy.
Addressing his supporters in Allentown, Pennsylvania, Trump said, “(Joe) Biden’s running mate Kamala Harris… Did you see her last night on television with a laugh?”
Referring to her and Biden's appearance on popular US television show '60 Minutes', Trump said, "Did you see his performance on that show? The only thing almost as bad was Kamala, with the laugh. Haha, that’s so funny. Hahaha. She kept laughing. I said, ‘Is there something wrong with her, too?’?"
Her further went on to tell his supporters that they can't let her become the next VP because she kept laughing.
“She will not be the first woman president, you can’t let that happen. I said, ‘Is there something wrong with her?’ She kept laughing at very, you know, serious questions,” he said.
While Trump is quick to jump the gun of political correctness when it comes to talking about women that oppose him, the dig at Harris's laughter is not random. Indeed, it's perfectly predictable considering the hue and cry her opponents and critics made about her smiles and "smirks" during the Vice Presidential debate with Mike Pence.
While supporters called it sassy, critics called her "over" smiling contrived, presumptuous and overall ulikeable. Pence's joviality or lack of it didn't make it to headlines as much as the fly on his head. Incidentally, she isn't the first one.
In 2016, while Hillary Clinton was reading out her victory speech, a host from MSNBC tweeted what every woman must have heard at some point in their lives; he tweeted that Clinton should "smile."
A few weeks later, Clinton was criticised for not smiling enough. Then-Republican National Committee Chairman had said that Clinton looked too angry and that, in his eyes, was unappealing.
Clinton, who has faced such casual sexism all her career, once told CNN during an interview that she felt being asked to smile more was sexist. Citing that there are male politicians who speak too loud or don't smile often, Clinton said, "Well let me say, I don't hear anybody say that about men."
But that was not it. When she later faced Donald Trump at the Presidential debate, Clinton stood by quietly, smiling all through, as Trump addressed the audience. While the debate covered important topics, like Trump's sexist comments all through his campaign, Clinton's critics had something else on their minds - why is she smiling so much?
But why does it matter how much Harris smiled or how she laughed? Well, it does. According to a report in the Washington Post, women candidates or women in politics are judged far more on their likeablity factor than their male counterparts. So while a White man like Pence need not follow the rules and interrupt Harris because he need not worry about being likeable, Harris would have to worry about a number of things like maintaining her profile as a warm, relatable person.
Incidentally, these rules often result from existing gender roles that colour the core behaviour patterns of voters. Which makes one wonder if criticising Trump for taking a dig at Harris is just a superficial response and would not change the reason why women smile more or less.