Missouri lawmakers on Wednesday passed new dress code for women in the State House, requiring them to cover their shoulders. The stricter dress code was part of a wider package of new regulations passed by a vote of 105-51.
The dress code drew immediate criticism from local Missouri politicians, who took to Twitter to express their frustration. The new dress code even has its own hashtag: #Sweatergate.
“I never thought my first national interview would be about what I can and can’t wear as a female legislator,” said Missouri Democratic Representative Ashley Awn.
Aun made a passionate statement against the bill in the House of Representatives, asking her fellow lawmakers: “Do you know what it feels like to have a group of men in this room looking at you trying to decide if it’s appropriate or not?”
The Missouri House has 116 men and 43 women. The majority in the House of Representatives belongs to Republicans: 111 Republicans against 52 Democrats.
In response, Republican Congresswoman Ann Kelly, who sponsored the bill, said: “You’d think all you had to do was say ‘dress professionally’ and women would be fine with it.”
The Missouri Senate has no rules requiring women to wear jackets or blazers.
In a statement on FacebookKelly wrote, “How is encouraging professionalism wrong? If there’s ever a time to honor tradition and be professional, it’s on the floor of the Missouri House of Representatives; I will not apologize for advocating these things.’
“Maybe believe that women — who are at the center of your latest madness — can dress professionally as they wish without your feeble efforts to control and disenfranchise women,” said a comment on Kelly’s post on Monday.
“Absolutely disgusting that as a grown woman in power in a country where people are struggling, you are more concerned about your shoulders than the real issues facing your constituents,” read another.
A third Facebook user compared the new ruling to the dystopian drama The Handmaid’s Tale.
While Kelly’s original amendment said women should wear a “jacket,” which could also include “blazers and knit jackets,” a revised version was later passed to clarify that a cardigan could also be worn.
Under the previous dress code, women had to wear “dresses, skirts or trousers with a blazer or sweater and matching shoes or boots” without the required second layer, according to Associated Press.
Avne was not the only member of Congress to comment on the new restrictions.
Maggie Nurenburn, a Democrat from Missouri, posted photos of her bare arms, writing in a separate tweet that it is “stunning that members of the Missouri House of Representatives are allowed to carry guns on the floor of the chamber, but female legislators are prohibited from displaying the same.”
“The debate has just ended on why knitted blazers don’t include cardigans in an amendment to limit what women can wear in the House of Representatives” said another Missouri Democrat, Rep. Jamie Johnson, on Twitter. “Why do we need additional class barriers to the idea that anyone can represent the people?”
Even out-of-state politicians responded, including California Congressman Eric Swallell chirping“Republicans continue to codify their brand of sexism and misogyny, but let’s hear more about it indignation of the gas stove,” in response to an article about Missouri adopting a dress code.