In the sweltering, D.C. heat, congresswomen on both sides of the aisle united to exercise their right to bare arms. No, that was not a typo. Their stand for a modernized dress code in the House of Representatives was spurred on when a number of political reporters were not permitted to enter the House lobby due to wearing sleeveless shirts and dresses.
The procedural terms themselves are up for interpretation. For the U.S. House of Representatives, it requires that members "dress appropriately." This is elaborated upon by reminding male members to wear a "traditional coat and tie;" however, female House members are only asked to wear "appropriate attire." In the absence of anything more specific, this has come to mean refraining from wearing sneakers, open-toed shoes, and anything sleeveless.
In response to the vague dress code, GOP congresswoman Martha McSally (R-Ariz.) said, at the end of her speech receiving the Southern Arizona Congressional First Responder Distinction Award, “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. With that, Mr. Speaker, I yield back.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) announced that he will be updating the dress code to be "modernized" during a press conference on July 13 saying, “A dress code in the chamber and in the lobby makes sense,” he continued. “But we also don’t need to bar otherwise accepted contemporary business attire. Look for a change on that soon.”
Taking matters into their own hands, the women of Congress decided to make their thoughts on the matter perfectly clear. In a tweet that same day, Representative Jackie Speier (D-Ca.) announced that she would be wearing a sleeveless dress the following day and encouraged her colleagues to do the same. Dubbing the event "Sleeveless Friday," Speier made the simple and punny argument that "women have the right to bare arms."
Her tweet was met with a wave of support as her fellow Congresswomen and Representatives joined her not only on the steps but around the country. Many shared photos of "Sleeveless Friday" on Twitter.
Representative Jackie Speier also tweeted that some Congressmen showed up to work that day wearing short sleeves in solidarity. Given that they are required to wear a coat and tie to work, maybe a more modernized update across the board is needed?
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