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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

A cry for decency in the House

Democratic Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur of Ohio has been in the House nearly 35 years. That is far too long.

However, what she shared with Democrats in private was excellent advice. She told her colleagues, ladies, dress professionally.

From a very good report in Politico by Heather Caygle:
“I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,” Kaptur said, according to the sources present. “And what I’ve seen … it's really an invitation.” The comments left many others in the room stunned, the sources said.
Kaptur said women on Capitol Hill should have to abide by a stricter dress code, like those adopted by the military or corporations.
“Maybe I’ll get booed for saying this, but many companies and the military [have] a dress code,” she said. “I have been appalled at some of the dress of ... members and staff. Men have to wear ties and suits.”
In a statement to Politico later Wednesday, Kaptur said she never meant to suggest that women are to blame for harassment they experience.
“When I was first elected to Congress my office and I became a refuge for female staffers who had been mistreated by their bosses. Some of them in tears many days. It is something I carry with me to this day and something I brought up during our Caucus meeting," she said.
"Under no circumstances is it the victim's fault if they are harassed in any way. I shared the stories from my time here in the context of the ‘Me Too’ legislation and how we can elevate the decorum and the dress code to protect women from what is a pervasive problem here and in society at large.”
Two Democratic sources said other members and staffers present in the meeting were so surprised that no one knew what to say. “Nearly everyone in the room’s mouths were wide open aghast,” one of those sources said.
I agree with Kaptur that men are responsible for their actions.

But it is not slut-shaming to tell a woman to dress professionally.

In fact, we should not have to tell women to dress professionally.

Men don't show off their chests in Congress. Why should women?

That people were aghast shows she needed to speak up because so many highly educated and well-paid people just do not get it.

Society had dress codes. They were not perfect but instead of amending the dress codes, we threw them out.

If we have to require Congress and its staff to dress like monks and nuns, so be it. They work for us, and we tire of paying settlements for sexual harassment lawsuits.


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  1. When I was still working I had a utility clerk who liked to wear low cut tops and lean over so customers and male employees could get a good view. I called a meeting with my female finance director (the clerk's immediate superior)and my female assistant administrator, and instructed them to have a talk with her. She quit wearing the low tops. Easy fix.

  2. Whatever happened to "Dress For Success"?

    1. For some, a low-cut top *is* dressing for success.

  3. If women expect to be treated exactly like men, they should have to dress like men, so if that means wearing a suit and tie, so be it.

    1. I shudder to think of more women in pant-suits; it isn't a good look.

      Though possibly I'm biased, as there is a notorious unindicted felon who has a penchant for wearing them.

  4. There is a time and a place for everything -- and, I am sure, many social opportunities for any women who so desire to show off their assets to legislators and other staffers and interns (if any are looking for fun or if they want to be sure anyone they're attracted to knows their attractive or for whatever reason). But, if it's not in such social settings and it's a matter of business, like soldiers of either sex in the military doing their military business, it only makes sense that there be some dress code standards at least.

    And it is the problem of men if they can't control themselves from making unwanted advances, especially if they are determining a bit of skin showing automatically makes a woman an available and ready slut. It's the problem of what disrespect is in the man's brain -- but such cads are looking for reasons to be cads and are ever ready to jump on whatever they can twist into a provocation. A dress code or at least guidelines would be a memo to them, and a constant reminder, that their forwardness, to put it mildly, is not appreciated.

    1. "And it is the problem of *some* men..."
      Fixed it for you.
      Don't paint all men with your wide brush. Most still behave as gentlemen.

  5. "Good fences make good neighbors." A dress code is a good fence, especially in a professional environment or workplace. That said, a modest but attractive well-cut dress on a woman or suit on a man can still enhance their appearance and project an aura of ease, confidence, and mastery of the situation.

    Even the U.S. Army is going back to the pinks and greens, and I agree with that enthusiastically. I wish I had been issued that uniform. It's a welcome reminder of the time when men were men, women were women, and Vive la difference! The key to the situation here is discretion.

    - Elric

  6. In most American jurisdictions, Sexual Harassment in the Workplace has to do with not just something someone said or did, but also the environment.

    i was accused of sexual harassment for reasons even HR could not figure out. Meanwhile, the women that accused me were not only showing cleavage as was the style, but they openly told sexual jokes and commented on the guys. Apparently that's acceptable. I sat in meetings with female management and heard - "men are only good for one thing, and if I didn't need it, I wouldn't have anything to do with them". Then there was the time a Department Head and her Manager showed up late for a meeting in a room of 14-15 employees, mixed genders, to state "men are OK once you train them".

    I've got others.

    1. And I've known Ms. Kaptur for over 40 years. She was a feminist before the movement was hijacked around the mid-70's as a way of females getting special treatment. Ladies like her that I knew were all pretty mad. Kind of how loud mouths like Jessie, Al, and Black Lives Matter figured out how to monetize shaming whitey.

    2. Luckily Gerard Van der Luen posted just the thing to address sexual harassment in the workplace, over at

      GE Training Film- Sexual Harassment and You

  7. Does professional attire mean no more red sequined cowboy hats for Frederica Wilson?

  8. Doesn't slut shaming require the presence of a slut?

  9. I can't recall who said this, but a male character in a movie saw a young woman dressed in a provocative manner and said, "It pays to advertise!"

  10. OK, here's my story...

    2011, I think. Forgot an important folder for a meeting in Baltimore and had to stop by the office in Rockville before heading up. Just ahead of me, a young woman was kind enough to hold open the front door. The first look I took at her face, that was it. A classic Love At First Sight feeling. Never had one before and hope I never do again. She was the most beautiful girl I'd ever seen in my life...

    Long story short: I wound up mentoring her to replace me on an Executive Committee Employee Resource Group. This required a bunch of meetings, including one down in DC where I drove. Did the thought cross my mind? Yeah it did. Did she show some boob from time to time? Yeah she did. But I knew that Crossing The Line could have serious - nay, catastrophic - consequences for my career, my marriage, and my Christian Faith.

    Sure I miss her. Probably will til the day I die. But, despite my many failings elsewhere, I can feel good about Doing The Right Thing on this.

  11. Biology 101, men and women are different. Political dogma 101. Men and women are the same. Both can not be true. Biology can not be changed and political dogma will not be changed.

  12. So men are going to pass a law that prevents women from dressing like floozies in Congress?

    Yeah, sure they are! Except, um- "Under no circumstances is it the victim's fault if they are harassed in any way."

    So let's-
    "Dream, the impossible dream!
    To love, pure and chaste from afar...
    This is my quest, to follow that star
    No matter how hopeless, no matter how far."

    After all, that's what government is for, right? To follow hopeless quests like making women equal!