House Speaker Paul Ryan just asserted, “Members should wear appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House, however brief their appearance on the floor may be.”
That apparently means women are not allowed to wear sleeveless garments, sneakers or even open-toed shoes — regardless of the 90-degree temperature outside.
In fact, several female journalists reported they were turned away from the lobby because of their bare arms and shoulders.
The CBS News reported Haley Byrd, a reporter for Independent Journal Review, was told she couldn’t enter the Speaker’s lobby because she was wearing a sleeveless dress. She was forced to improvise by tearing off sheets of paper from her notebook and stuffing them into her armholes to create sleeves. Despite her burst of creativity, she was told her attire was still not acceptable.
CQ Roll Call’s Kellie Mejdrich also said she was warned the next time she dared to bare her shoulders, she would be thrown out of the premises.
The dress code policy has been in place since the time of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and previous speakers. However, women think it’s now being emphasized because it's summer. Men are also required to wear suit jackets and ties. The dress code is also enforced only inside the Speaker’s lobby — not along the rest of the chamber’s parameters.
Also, the rules are not clearly defined and are open to interpretation. They are also subject to the discretion of chamber security. Billy House, the chairman of the Standing Committee of Congressional Correspondents, stated the dress code stems from the notion of “proper decorum” and the committee expects these unwritten rules to be enforced uniformly.
“However, for anyone hoping to find any actual, official code of attire? Good luck,” he told CBS News.
So not only is this rule sexist, it is also confusing as hell.
People on Twitter are now using “The Handmaid’s Tale” to call out the dress code.
Love the new uniforms for women on Capitol Hill. pic.twitter.com/AxZoehm1cz— Sarah Lerner (@SarahLerner) July 6, 2017
New Speaker's Lobby dress code. pic.twitter.com/WZ2tm0IgK7— Schooley (@Rschooley) July 6, 2017
Updated dress code for fee-male reporters in House Speaker's office pic.twitter.com/DUnKOyXgZl— TheFeralOne (@tracey_f) July 7, 2017
oh yes by all means policing women's shoulders is what the house speaker should be focused on rn https://t.co/5UEozS6Lnx— alexandra j. roberts (@lexlanham) July 6, 2017
If Speaker Ryan's going to be taking work time away from health care talks to set dress code rules for women, I'd like to suggest this. pic.twitter.com/LEJ50Y7wJO— JoAnn Ross (@JoAnnRoss) July 7, 2017