Dress codes, and women’s dress codes, in particular, have been garnering a lot of attention as of late. Those with a more feminist approach claim that the practice is sexist and women should not be held responsible for how men behave. A more conservative stream of thought believes that there is a time and a place for certain attire, and the act of dressing appropriately is synonymous with respect.
Most recently, a group of congresswomen joined in on the topic after a reporter was banned from the Speaker’s Room as a result of her clothing. The offending article in question? A sleeveless dress.
According to CBS News, the female reporter was stopped at the door and informed of her fashion faux-pas. Desperate to enter the Speaker’s Room, she used notepad paper to fashion fake sleeves, but still, this was not acceptable. According to AccuWeather, the day in question was a scorching 97 degrees Fahrenheit (or 36 degrees Celsius).
Following the reporter’s banning from the Speaker’s Room, California Congresswoman Jackie Speier decides to speak up. In an interview with Vanity Fair, she explains:
“There have been members who have worn sleeveless attire in the House… We are at a place where we have a little control over our destiny. That’s not necessarily the case for reporters, so I mean, if you’re wearing a sleeveless dress and you can’t come into the Speaker’s Lobby, it kind of borders on a form of discrimination.”
Jackie goes to Twitter, stating that she will be wearing a sleeveless dress the next day and encouraging her fellow female colleagues to do the same. “Women have a right to bare arms,” she wrote.
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) July 13, 2017
Congresswomen from all over the United States take part in Sleeveless Friday, posing together for a photo which has since been posted to Twitter.
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) July 14, 2017
Other politicians publicized the initiative by posting their own tweets and photos. A few male colleagues, including David Cicilline and Alan Lowenthal, also showed solidarity by baring arms during the event.
— Jan Schakowsky (@janschakowsky) July 14, 2017
— Rep. Roybal-Allard (@RepRoybalAllard) July 14, 2017
In an interview with Vanity Fair, Jackie describes the experience as refreshing, saying:
“I haven’t worn anything sleeveless in a long time. Some of the older members were commenting on how free they felt!
Since Sleeveless Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan has stated that he will be working on modernizing the dress code. According to the Huffington Post, he explains:
“A dress code in the chamber and in the lobby makes sense. But we also don’t need to bar otherwise accepted contemporary business attire. Look for a change on that soon.”
As a result of the upcoming changes, Jackie does not see a need to continue the Sleeveless Friday initiative.
In the meantime, however, women everywhere are applauding her success.
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