When I woke up Friday morning, the last thing I expected to see among viral videos and buzz-worthy news articles was a photograph of Congresswomen making national news. The photograph accompanied an article titled “Right to bare arms: US Congresswomen protest against dress code” from BBC News1. I will admit, having not read the title closely, I expected another news story surrounding a debate on our Second Amendment right to possess guns. But as I read on, I realized that this article actually detailed a clever challenge to the status quo.
On July 14th, US Congresswomen protested an outdated dress code by meeting on the steps of the US Capitol building wearing sleeveless tops and dresses. The current dress code requires professional clothing for all attendees, including suit jackets and ties for men and sleeved clothing and closed toed shoes for women1. After multiple reports of only female reporters being denied access to the Speaker’s lobby, a room where reporters and lawmakers are allowed to conduct interviews, politicians from both parties began to discuss how to fix these, in my opinion gender-biased, set of guidelines. These women intended to create a conversation surrounding this issue and highlight how women can dress professionally, even while showing a little more skin.
Although the issue of an overly-conservative dress code remains pertinent to this protest, their concerns also emphasize the lack of equality for women both in and out of Congress. In a quote obtained by CNN, California Democrat Linda Sanchez noted that “the rules are kind of archaic”, using the struggle Congress members faced to build a women’s restroom to illustrate this point2. The concerns of women politicians are often dealt with by unconcerned leaders who have little regard for the wants and needs of their female counterparts.
As I read this, I could not understand why the concerns raised by women politicians took so much time and effort to correct- simple actions to address these issues would make everyone’s job easier. But within a historically male-dominated government, the 105 women making up 19.6 percent of all Congress members have to fight hard to make their voices heard3. The overwhelming support to change the dress code might be considered a small victory, but in the long term small actions can result in larger, systematic changes.
- Right to Bare Arms: US Congresswomen Protest against Dress Code.” BBC News. BBC, 15 July 2017. Web. 18 July 2017.
- Deutch, Gabby, and Emily Karl. “Congresswomen Protest for ‘right to Bare Arms’.” CNN. Cable News Network, 14 July 2017. Web. 18 July 2017.
- “Women in the U.S. Congress 2017.” Women in the U.S. Congress 2017. CAWP. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 July 2017.