Republicans controlling the Missouri State House have come under heavy fire after starting their new session by tightening part of the dress code in a way that only affects women.
The updated code required women to wear a blazer in the House bedroom before it was changed to only require women to cover their arms, meaning jackets and cardigans will also be allowed. Outraged Democrats called the measure “ridiculous” on Wednesday, according to The Washington Post.
Raychel Proudie, a State House Democrat, said in the chamber that “we are fighting, again, for a woman’s right to choose something. This time it’s his way of covering up, and the interpretation of someone who has no training in fashion.”
“I spent $1,200 on a suit, and I can’t wear it to the People’s House because someone who doesn’t have the range tells me it’s inappropriate,” she said. added.
The previous code said that “dresses or skirts or trousers worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots”.
Republican Ann Kelley argued that women should wear jackets because “it is essential to always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere”.
She suggested the dress code be changed so that “appropriate attire for women is business attire, including jackets worn with dresses, skirts or slacks and dress shoes or boots”.
Fellow Republican Brenda Shields said “all we’re trying to do today is take the same rules we have and make them clearer.”
Pete Merideth, Democratic State Representative tweeted that “the caucus who lost their minds over the suggestion that they should wear masks during a pandemic to respect the safety of others now spend their time focusing on the small details of what women should wear (in particular how to cover your arms) to show respect here”.
He added that Republicans were “changing the dress code because they felt a few women last year didn’t dress well enough for their standards.”
Republicans have come under fire on social media, with former US House Republican Rep. Joe Walsh Tweeter“Um… what country is this? What century are we? Ridiculous”.
“I mean it’s 2023. It’s amazing,” Maria Shriver wrote.
“Fun fact; the Australian parliament already mandates against us naughty ladies showing a bit of a shoulder. I have to keep a lid on things in the House,” Australian MP Dr Monique Ryan added.
“Women demand the right to bare arms, especially in the ‘show me’ state. Maybe if we called them “guns” instead of “weapons” those fools would back off. #MarjorieTaylorGreene, who often goes sleeveless to Congress, would not be so welcome,” Los Angeles Time columnist Patt Morrison tweeted.
“FOR YOUR INFORMATION. I do some of my best work in pajamas,” former Democratic state Rep. Trish Gunby wrote.
Missouri House rules can be debated every two years when a new session begins. Less than a third of the members of the Missouri House are women, the St Louis Post Dispatch Noted.
The dress code also applies to men, but this part of the code was not changed on Wednesday. It states that “proper attire for gentlemen should be business attire, including coat, tie, dress slacks and dress shoes or boots.”
“You sure don’t have the money from the salary we earn to go out and buy a bunch of new clothes or bespoke clothes, and I hope you can keep wearing your cardigan and voting on behalf of the people who have sent here,” Ms. Proudie added.
“You would think, you would think, all you would have to do is, say, dress professionally, and women could handle that,” Ms Kelley said in arguing for the updated code. “You’d think elected officials could handle that.”
She was debating Democrat Ashley Aune, who noted that Ms Kelley was wearing a sequined top at the time.
“But we walk around here in sequins and velvet for the lady’s point,” Ms. Aune said. “So what is appropriate, and why do you decide?”
“We have to overcome the glitter. This is ridiculous,” Mr. Kelley replied.
“Appropriate attire for women should be business attire, including jackets worn with dresses, skirts, or slacks, and dress shoes or boots,” the dress code for women now states.
Democratic State Representative Jamie Johnson tweeted“Just finished a floor debate on why knit blazers don’t include cardigans on an amendment limiting what women can wear in the House. Why would we need to add additional class barriers to the idea that anyone could represent the people”.