Last week, a report from CBS News brought renewed attention to an unwritten rule that women aren’t supposed to wear things like sleeveless dresses and open-toed shoes in certain parts of the Capitol. The alleged dress code gave people a lot of feelings — some compared it to the rules in The Handmaid’s Tale, while others defended it as being pretty standard. And during a speech on the House floor on Wednesday, a GOP congresswoman weighed in.
After speaking about first responders in her district, Arizona representative Martha McSally concluded with this: “Before I yield back, I want to point out, I’m standing here in my professional attire, which happens to be a sleeveless dress and open-toed shoes,” she said. “With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back.”
The dress code, which calls for members of Congress to wear “appropriate business attire during all sittings of the House however brief their appearance on the floor may be,” applies to all members who go into a room outside the House chamber called the Speaker’s Lobby, as well as on the House floor. In one recent instance, a female reporter was barred from the Lobby because she was wearing a sleeveless dress.
This isn’t the first time McSally has made a point about a discriminatory dress code; when she was an Air Force fighter pilot, she sued then–Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld over the rule that military women wear an abaya while off base. “This is where we separate our men from our women, and we demean and humiliate just them,” she said of the rule.