Lawmaker Tells Woman Staffer to "Smile for Us" on the Texas House Floor

Lawmaker Tells Woman Staffer to "Smile for Us" on the Texas House Floor
YouTube via AgendaWise
Minutes into his Wednesday morning inquiry on the Texas House floor, Rep. Jonathan Stickland interrupted himself.

"Can we get the parliamentarian to smile for us today?" he asked, with a grin.

His question was directed at Assistant Parliamentarian Shalla Sluyter, who's spent the session working double-time to provide nonpartisan guidance on parliamentary rules and procedures to the House (and with the kind of bills we've seen pass through the House so far, lawmakers haven't made her job easy).

Stickland commented on how Sluyter hasn't been smiling enough lately, and chuckled with fellow far-right Rep. Tony Tinderholt, who was standing behind him. Sluyter, who was selected for the job after clerking for the both the Texas Supreme Court and Third Court of Appeals, did not smile.

Of course, this is nothing new. Men have been asking women to smile for them for decades — it's one of the more classic lines flung at women walking down a street, teaching a class, commanding a meeting, or even running for political office.

But patronizing women with sexist comments also appears to be one of Stickland's favorite tools. Last year, Stickland was forced to apologize for once pronouncing "rape is non-existent in marriage," and that husbands can "take what they want." The Bedford Republican has also supported a handful of laws that specifically limit women's rights.

Like his attempt last session to ban abortions after 20 weeks or a deal he tried to make with the Senate to expedite a bill to prohibit elective abortion coverage in Texas health care plans.

His male GOP colleagues aren't any better. Rep. Tinderholt even tried to turn his misogyny into a law this session with a bill that would stick women with murder charges for having an abortion because, he says, women need to be taught how to be more responsible with their bodies. Stickland happily helped Tinderholdt rally support for the bill. And remember when Sen. Charles Schwertner shattered a glass table with a gavel while trying to silence a woman testifying against an anti-abortion bill he supported?

Stickland's comment comes during a particularly trying week for women's rights in the Texas House — at least five different bills aimed at restricting the right to a legal abortion have been placed on the calendar. On Tuesday, a dozen women gathered in the capitol building dressed up like characters from The Handmaid's Tale (a dystopian novel where women are simply used as reproduction tools) to symbolize how the state's limited abortion access is nearing dystopian-levels.

I guess we shouldn't be surprised that this is how Stickland, a lawmaker who's spent his career writing bills telling women what they can or cannot do with their bodies, treats his female colleagues.


Since 1986, the SA Current has served as the free, independent voice of San Antonio, and we want to keep it that way.

Becoming an SA Current Supporter for as little as $5 a month allows us to continue offering readers access to our coverage of local news, food, nightlife, events, and culture with no paywalls.

Join today to keep San Antonio Current.

Scroll to read more San Antonio News articles

Join SA Current Newsletters

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.