Congress Misogyny Is Standing In The Way Of Journalists Doing Their Job
Politics and Activism

Congress Misogyny Is Standing In The Way Of Journalists Doing Their Job

The "appropriateness" of women's clothing is too often subjective, so too often it stands in the way of productivity

28
freedomworks.org

A number of women reporters have had an unfortunate run-in with one of the rules of Congress, newly enforced under the Trump administration. That rule? Dress code.

Congress has always had a standard of dress, but in the last few months the number of women reporting being denied access to certain parts of the Capitol because of their clothing has risen. Most recently, a young woman tried to enter a guarded room outside the house chamber, known as the Speaker's lobby, but was turned away because of her sleeveless dress. The Speaker's lobby is a popular location for reporters to wait when they are hoping to conduct brief interviews with lawmakers. So in this case, the dress code interfered with this young woman's work.

We've all been hearing stories of girls getting sent home from school to change clothes for years. Debates abound about the fairness of these policies, with many pointing fingers to the sexism of disrupting a girl's learning to make sure she doesn't disrupt a boy's. It's true that in schools dress codes are far more lenient for boys, who never have to think about the "fingertip rule." In Congress, however, things are a little different.

In the Capitol, men are held to an extremely rigid standard of dress. Even in the intense summer heat of Washington D.C., every man who enters the building is expected to show up wearing a suit, complete with jacket and tie. In this case, the rules of dress for women are actually the more lenient set.

And yet this still creates a problem. The only guidelines women have been given about their clothing choices are that "they're not allowed to wear sleeveless blouses or dresses, sneakers or open-toed shoes." Everyone also received a vague reminder from speaker Paul Ryan that "Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House however brief their appearance on the floor may be." There are no signs anywhere with guidelines listed, and the rules are only enforced on the House side of the Capitol, not the Senate, making everything more confusing.

It is no wonder so many women reporters have gotten called out for not following the dress code. "Business attire" means something very specific for men, but this same level of specificity does not exist for women. Our choice of clothing is always a judgement call made based on where we are going, what we have to do there, who we're going to see, and even what gender most of the people we are likely to interact with will be. We women are pretty savvy at navigating the murky waters of women's business attire, but sometimes even the best of us get it wrong.

The "appropriateness" of a woman's clothing is always subjective. Even on Capitol Hill, hence why the rules are more strictly enforced by the House than the Senate and why some Speakers double down more on the rules than others.

This subjectivity leaves women at a disadvantage. Because it means that it is not ultimately our call whether our clothing is appropriate. It's someone else's. Which means someone else gets to decide whether our appearance will disrupt our workday or not, which takes away some of our autonomy.

The recent incidents on Capitol Hill are far from the worst instances of women having their clothing and bodies policed by others. But they are still part of a larger epidemic of hoops women have to jump through to make it in this world. We need to work on getting rid of these hoops. On Capitol Hill and everywhere else.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Lifestyle

Founders Of Color Q&A: Yarlap's MaryEllen Reider On Destigmatizing Women's Health

The father-daughter duo co-founded the brand and has since generated a passionate, dedicated community of women.

MaryEllen Reider

I was lucky enough to meet MaryEllen Reider over a decade ago as a fellow freshman in college. Since then, I had the luxury of being able to witness her evolution from the faithful companion I went to my first job fair with to the woman who is now a pioneer in destigmatizing the portrayal of women's reproductive health.

Keep Reading... Show less

My favorite Editor was feeling under the weather yesterday. All I wanted was to make her a vegan iced matcha latte. With distance forbidding it, I instead decided to write up this quick, easy recipe. I made it to be vegan and organic for optimal health benefits.

Matcha green tea is made from grounded green tea leaf and it comes with the most antioxidant boost ever.

Keep Reading... Show less

This coffee brand is USDA organic. Newman's Own Keurig coffee flavors are all organic. They have French Roast, Decaf, and a Special Blend. I'm in a committed relationship with the French Roast flavor. The smell alone from dispensing 1 cup of coffee sets a whole cafe jazz vibe.

I'm already relaxed when I smell the coffee all ready for dressing. The way I make my coffee is simple and sweet, literally. I add a spoon of organic brown sugar and a splash of organic almond vanilla milk. This cup of coffee has changed my life forever. I have never been so productive in my life and I truly believe it's because the coffee is organic.

Keep Reading... Show less

These organic, cruelty-free skincare products are great for hot, sweaty summers. I use them every day, so you will find my honest opinion about them all. I highly recommend using organic products because they are least likely to be harmful to your body.

This may seem like an extra step when it comes to your beauty routine, but it's really easy. These 5 products could be the start of your next beauty venture.

Keep Reading... Show less
Lifestyle

These 5 Black Handbag Designers Should Be On Every Accessory Lover's Radar

With the push to support more Black-owned businesses, we've put together a list of Black owned handbag designers.

Ever since the current upheaval of societal silence happening in the country caused by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, there has been a bigger push for people to support Black-owned businesses.

Granted, there are a lot fo Black-owned businesses to support, it just takes time to find them. With that being said, fashion is a sector, just like any sector really, in a culture that still has people of color calling out for more diversity.

Keep Reading... Show less
Health and Wellness

Feel A Lil' Better: Because Therapy Dogs Aren't Just Cute, They're Working

Your weekly wellness boost from Odyssey.

No matter how good (or bad) you'd describe your health, one thing is for sure: a little boost is ALWAYS a good idea. Whether that's reading a new, motivating book, or listening to a song that speaks to your soul, there are plenty of resources to help your health thrive on any given day.

There are many different ways people overcome obstacles in their lives. Thankfully, the stigma surrounding therapy is slowly (but surely) slipping away and we're opening up about our problems and needs. For some, a good workout is just as relaxing. Others are learning how meditation can be a helpful tool in their mental health journey.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments