In America, we have the right to bear arms. Or is it to arm bears? Or maybe to bare arms? Something like that. Land of the free, home of the brave, and so on.
Tired of sweating in the D.C. heat, women in the House of Representatives recently took a stand against an outdated dress code banning sleeveless dresses. The rules of the dress code aren’t actually that specific, simply saying that people on the House floor must wear “appropriate business attire.”
Lately, however, that rule is being interpreted and enforced in a very specific way.
“A young, female reporter recently tried to enter a guarded room known as the Speaker’s lobby outside the House chamber, but her outfit was considered inappropriate because her shoulders weren’t covered. She was wearing a sleeveless dress.
Forced to improvise, she ripped out pages from her notebook and stuffed them into her dress’s shoulder openings to create sleeves, witnesses said. An officer who’s tasked with enforcing rules in the Speaker’s lobby said her creative concoction still was not acceptable.”
Rep. Martha McSally (R-Arizona) took to the floor on July 12 in protest of the new Capitol Hill fashion police.
And two days later, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-California) organized #SleevelessFriday, capping off with a group photo of Congressional women showing off their metaphorical guns.
There’s a long history of women on both sides of the aisle working together to update congressional norms.
In 1969, Rep. Charlotte Reid (R-Illinois) wore *gasp* pants and caused quite a stir. It wasn’t until 1993 that pressure from newly-elected Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Illinois) that the Senate updated their rules to allow women to wear pants. In 2011, women of the House banded together to demand a women’s restroom be added near the House floor something their male counterparts had had all along. And they got it.
Of course, yes, there’s a lot of other world-redefining, life-altering stuff happening right now in Congress like the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad health care bill that needs our attention. In fact, now would be a pretty great time to give your senators a quick call to let them know how you feel.
This story is a reminder of how great it can be when Democrats and Republicans work together even if it is just to fight for a better dress code.
For his part, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) has committed to updating the dress code, telling reporters that he’ll be working with the House sergeant-at-arms to clarify the code and its enforcement.
In the meantime, it’s good to see a little reasonable action coming from the political abyss. It’s something we don’t hear about nearly enough.