Missouri Democrats call House dress code debate “ridiculous.”


Women who serve in the Missouri House will face a stricter dress code when they return to the floor this week after a debate that Democrats say is an unnecessary distraction from the problems facing the state.

The new rules require lawmakers and staff to wear jackets such as cardigans or jackets. The Republican lawmaker who introduced the change said it was done to show decency and men’s dress code. Democrats called it ridiculous, saying women’s fashion choices shouldn’t be scrutinized.

Rep. Ann Kelly, a Republican who introduced the amendment, said it cleans up language in the House’s existing rules so that the dress code for women reflects the dress code for men.

“It’s very important to maintain a formal and professional atmosphere on the House floor at all times, and I had to move this amendment to make that happen,” he said during Wednesday’s debate.

Its original amendment stated that women would be required to wear professional attire, specifically a “jacket” that included “blazers and knit blazers.” After heated debate, a revised amendment was passed to clarify that cardigans can also be worn.

Men in the Missouri House of Representatives were required to wear a jacket, shirt and tie. Under the old dress code, women had to wear “a jacket or sweater with a dress or skirt or trousers and matching dress shoes or boots.” A second layer of clothing is not required.

Kelly said decency is the main reason for his proposal, an idea that Democrats have embraced.

“I’ve seen a lot of lack of decorum in this room in my two years here, and not once has it been someone’s blazer or lack thereof that has been the cause of such indecency,” the spokesperson said. Ashley Awn, Democrat. “There are so many ways to break the decor in this room. But the woman, what she wears, it’s funny.

Further, Ane said that although she followed the rules, she was asked a personal question about her clothes.

“Do you know what it’s like to have a bunch of men in this room staring at your ceiling trying to figure out if it’s appropriate or not?” he says.

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Virginia Ramseyer Winter, an associate professor at the University of Missouri School of Health Professions and director of the Center for Body Image Research and Policy, said lawmakers should not have debated it because it would create unnecessary emphasis. about women’s appearance instead of problems.

“I think it reinforces the idea that we value women based on their looks over other important things like their intelligence and contributions,” she said.

Ramseyer Winter and other critics of the measure said the debate would echo the abortion restrictions lawmakers approved last summer after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

“I think it sends a message that we need to control women’s bodies,” she said.

Rep. Rachel Prudy, a Democrat, opposed the change until adding “cardigan” to the amendment. He noted that it will not be easy for pregnant women to meet this requirement, because “they don’t make jackets or blazers for pregnant women. This can be very uncomfortable, especially in a pro-life setting.

The dress code was just one small part of a set of rules approved by state lawmakers last Wednesday.

“In this package of rules, I think we should have a discussion, but instead we are fighting again for women’s right to choose something. And this time it was closed like this,” Prudy said.

Legislators in other states have deemed the dress code sexist and culturally insensitive. Congress’ long-standing ban on sleeveless tops and open-toed shoes sparked a fight before those rules were updated in 2017.

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Missouri Republicans said the criticism of the dress code went too far because all the rules explained what was required.

“This is a normal process for any organization dealing with a professional work environment,” said Republican state Rep. Doug Ritchie. “We have a political context that we have to manage, so it’s time for some members to step up and try to make something out of it.”

Still, Democrat Peter Merideth refused to vote to change the dress code because he didn’t want to tell women what was appropriate or inappropriate. There are 43 women and 116 men in the ward.

“It’s ridiculous,” he said. “Our people sent us here to legislate…not to fight over mandates and rules about women’s clothing.”

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