Once again, it seems that the men – specifically Speaker of the House Paul Ryan – feel as though they can decide what is appropriate for women. This time the men of the House have decided that despite the ever-increasing heat of the Washington DC summers, women are not allowed to wear sleeveless dresses and shirt inside the Speaker’s lobby – where reporters get to ask legislators questions.
Now, this dress code isn’t necessarily a new code, however, what is actually written in the rule is extremely vague. According to Jezebel, the rule states that women should wear “appropriate attire,” which can be interpreted to mean whatever Ryan decides it to mean, as he is the person that gets to enforce the rule. The Speaker of the House has decided that sleeveless shirts and dresses violate this code, indicating that women’s shoulders are now inappropriate to show in the House.
Of course, there is a difference between a completely sleeveless top, such as a strapless dress, and a sleeveless shirt in the sense that the latter is simply a tank, that covers bra straps. One might say that a completely strapless top might be inappropriate for a business environment – a judgment I will leave up to the reader. But a sleeveless dress, especially one that has a modest neckline covering everything except shoulders should by no means be considered inappropriate. Since when are shoulders and side arm a distraction?
Apparently, Speaker Ryan finds shoulders distracting given his insistence on this dress code. According to witnesses, many female reporters were told that they were in violation of the dress code. Some were warned, saying that they would not be allowed back into the Speaker’s lobby if they wore a similar outfit in the future.
Others, however, were barred from the room during interviews. One savvy reporter actually tore pages out of her notebook and put them in her dress to cover her distracting shoulders. She was still asked to leave even though she no longer barred the tops of her arms.
The new interpretation of the dress code doesn’t just ban sleeveless tops, it also bans open toed shoes. This means that reporters, lawmakers, and staff are not allowed to wear sandals or peep-toe shoes. So, despite the heat, everyone must feel just as stuffy and uncomfortable as Speaker Ryan looks all the time – or at least while working in the House.
To make sure that everyone was aware of the vague dress code, Ryan actually took time out of a House meeting to remind everyone that “members should wear appropriate business attire.” Of course, he didn’t go into the specifics about what that entails in his opinion.
Either way, it is becoming clear that the Republican’s in government have their priorities a bit mixed up. Instead of making sure women around the country have access to important medical care – prenatal, cancer screenings, birth control, etc. – they too busy deeming which body parts on women are considered appropriate or inappropriate.