Democratic lawmaker Marcy Kaptur said she’s appalled at the way women on Capitol Hill dress, stunning other lawmakers who were in a meeting with her yesterday. “I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,” she said. “And what I’ve seen…it’s really an invitation.”
Kaptur, the 71-year-old U.S. Representative for Ohio’s 9th congressional district, was in a private meeting with fellow lawmakers “to discuss sexual harassment issues,” according to Politico. People in the room were so shocked they were left speechless. “’Nearly everyone in the room’s mouths were wide open aghast,’ one of those sources said.”
“Maybe I’ll get booed for saying this,” Kaptur continued, “but many companies and the military [have] a dress code…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.”
The dress code for female members, staffers and reporters has been relaxed in recent months after Ryan moved to modernize the rules following outcry about women not being able to wear sleeveless dresses in and around the House chamber. Both women and men are still expected to dress professionally, but the sergeant-at-arms isn’t as strict in enforcing rules about women’s shoulders being covered when present in the House chamber or Speaker’s lobby.