“Ridiculous”: Democrats fume after Missouri House GOP tries to impose dress code on women lawmakers

Lawmaker warns of "bunch of men in this room looking at your top trying to decide whether it's appropriate or not"

Published January 12, 2023 11:30AM (EST)

Politician standing in government building. (Hill Street Studios/Getty Images)
Politician standing in government building. (Hill Street Studios/Getty Images)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

Legislators in the Missouri House of Representatives sparred on Wednesday over a Republican amendment to regulate what types of clothing women lawmakers should be permitted to wear while at work.

House Resolution 11 was cleared by the GOP-dominated Consent and House Procedure Committee. And while it has not yet been submitted to the Missouri State Senate, passionate arguments have burbled from assemblymembers on both sides of the political aisle.

State Representative Raychel Proudie (D-53rd District), for example, lambasted the proposal as inherently absurd, overtly sexist, and unworthy of consideration:

I want you all to pay particular attention, because there's going to be times on this floor where there are things that should not require debate and comment. I contend that these are one of these things. There are times to have your name said, to be recognized, to be called upon. This is not one of those things. There are some very serious things that are in this rule package that I think we should be debating, but instead, we are fighting again for women's right to choose something. And this time is how she covers herself and the interpretation of someone who has no background in fashion, because – again, this isn't a shot – it's inappropriate to wear sequins before five o'clock telling me that I can't wear a crispy, good St. John sweater if it has too many buttons. I spend $1200 on a suit, and I can't wear it in the people's House because someone who doesn't have the range tells me that it's inappropriate.

That's not why any of us were elected, Mr. Speaker. None of us. I urge us to vote no on this because it's ridiculous. And also, congratulations. I'll keep that to myself. To any of us who may be with child, you surely don't have enough or have the money off the salary that we make to go buy a bunch of new clothes or tailored clothes. And I hope that you're able to continue to wear your cardigan and vote on behalf of the people who sent you here.

Next, State Representative Ashley Aune (D-14th District) came to blows with one of HR 11's co-sponsors, State Representative Ann Kelley (R-127th District), over why Republicans are pushing unnecessary – and creepy – restrictions on female attire.

Aune's frustration was palpable:

You know what it feels like to have a bunch of men in this room looking at your top trying to decide whether it's appropriate or not? Are we going to have [Chief Clerk and House Administrator] Dana [Rademan Miller] be checking our tags for whether it's a knit blend or a polyester blend or the silk count? I mean, this is, this is ridiculous.


Lady. You're right. It is ridiculous. It is absolutely absurd that we even have to talk about it on the House floor, in the House chamber?


I agree! So why are you doing it? Why did you bring it up?


Why should we talk about something like this? It is absolutely ridiculous.

Aune, exasperated by Kelley's seemingly self-defeating defense:

You brought this to the floor, lady, you tell me.

Kelley's response was to blame women:

You would think, you would think, that all you would have to do is, say, dress professionally, and women could handle it. You would think elected officials could handle that.

Aune, refusing to take the bait:

You would think, you would think. But we're walking around here in sequins and velveteens for the lady's point. So, what is appropriate, and why do you get to decide?

Kelley, unable to provide substantive answers:

We need to get over the sequins. That's ridiculous.

Watch below or at this link.

By Brandon Gage

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