The menfolk sure do love to tell us ladies what to do! Is anyone surprised that a patronizing dress code for Montana state legislators was written by a male Republican?
Montana’s one-page list of fashion guidelines (officials say they are not formal rules) were handed down Dec. 5 in what Representative Keith Regier, the House Republican majority leader, said was a response to questions from newly elected lawmakers about what to wear on the floor.
“We do hold decorum at a high standard,” Mr. Regier said. “What we’re saying is: Be appropriate in what you wear. Don’t wear something that could be a distraction from the legislative process.”
(… yes that would be the same Mr. Regier who compared pregnant women to pregnant livestock — repeatedly — during debate over anti-choice legislation … but I digress …)
The seven-point list covers men’s attire, calling for a suit or a jacket and tie, dress slacks and shirt, and “dress shoes or dress boots.” But the guidelines for women are a little longer and more detailed, and had many female lawmakers rolling their eyes. The list includes what kinds of footwear they should avoid (flip-flops, tennis shoes and open-toe sandals), declares that leggings are not considered dress pants, and encourages modesty on skirt lengths and necklines.
“It’s like something out of ‘Mad Men,’” said Representative Ellie Hill, a Democrat from Missoula, referring to a television drama set in the 1960s. “The whole thing is totally sexist and bizarre and unnecessary.”
Apparently the dress code was written by a Republican staffer who decided to model it on Wyoming’s — but stricter:
Montana GOPers also removed an item from the Wyoming dress code allowing sleeveless dresses–IF and only if they were worn under jackets that is. Apparently however, the thought that some woman might be sleeveless underneath her suit coat was too much for MT Republicans, so they took it out.
Finally, although Wyoming lawmakers have generously been allowed to wear knit dresses–if sufficiently covered by a jacket. That language is also removed from the MT dress code. Perhaps one of these items was the mysterious item number six which was missing from Montana’s dress code. That document skips from 5 to 7.
I’m trying to imagine the guy whose job it was to write the dresscode for Montana’s female legislators. Did he sit around and think of all the ramifications of a knit dress? Did he perhaps have this in mind?
I’m trying to imagine where the poor guy’s mind went. “Nope! Can’t have a sweater dress! Too many curves!”
Look, I don’t have a problem with things like “no flip-flops” when it’s applied to both men and women — hey, men wear flip-flops, too! — even though I think it’s asinine and patronizing. Do legislators really not know what “business attire” is? Whatever, it’s Montana … it’s a casual place. But no sleeveless dresses even when worn under a jacket is just sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong.
I once had a job back in the ’80s in a teensy weensy two-person office where my Israeli boss told me I needed to wear stockings to work. (This was the same boss who — even though I was never late — tried to tell me what route I should take to work because, mansplaining!)
Nobody wears stockings in Southern California, it’s too damn hot for one thing; also, I’m pretty sure women stopped wearing stockings at all somewhere around 1973, I’m not sure. But I told him I was not going to wear stockings to work and he could find my replacement if he wanted to. I kept the job.
Ladies, there are some men in the world who just love to tell you how to run your life. Sadly, too many of them are elected to office.