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Florida GOP Announces Dress Code Designed To Make Women of the State Capitol Cover Up

Manager is holding Dress code policy.

Watch out, professional women! Florida’s GOP-led state house of representatives has been working hard to find new ways to control your bodies. Not content with their ongoing struggle to ban abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy, the Republican majority felt compelled to introduce new dress code guidelines for employees in the state Capitol that seem more fitting for 1950s high schoolers than they do for adult lawmakers in 2023.

In Tallahassee, a flyer posted around the capitol building, titled “When Should I Wear This to Work?” shows color-coded images of both women and men in varying states of dress. The images are broken down into four categories: what is okay to wear “in the chamber… when members are in the building…when members are not in the building,” and what is “never work appropriate.” 

What sort of clothing could be so egregiously inappropriate that the members of Florida leadership would take their time away from important state matters, like dealing with the opioid crisis, racial discrimination in schools, and human trafficking to focus on a dress code? Basically, it turns out we need rules stating elbows and legs must be concealed because they are too damn sexy and distracting for Republican men to handle.

Something similar happened just two weeks prior in Missouri, where the state house GOP used their session time to argue and vote to amend their dress code to state that women must wear jackets at all times on the house floor. 

During that debate, one of the many dissenting, albeit minority, democratic voices, Rep. Peter Meredith, argued, “Y’all had a conniption fit the last two years when we talked about maybe, maybe wearing masks in a pandemic to keep each other safer. How dare the government tell you what you have to wear over your face? Well, I know some governments require women to wear things over their face, but here, oh, it’s OK because we’re just talking about how many layers they have to have over their shoulders.”

Florida state house Rep. Anna V. Eskamani tried to find the humor in the situation and posted a snapshot of the Capitol building flyer to her Twitter, along with the message, “ICYMI: This was dropped off at our office in Tallahassee. Since ballgowns are not mentioned I guess we can still get away with those [crying and laughing emoji].”

The house floor has the most conservative clothing rules, requiring that all attending wear a full suit. Then, when the house is out of session and members aren’t in the building, the underlings are apparently allowed to go wild. This is the laxest the newly defined dress code gets, with women allowed to uncover their arms, as long as the shoulders don’t peek out. 

But when members of the house are in the building, even if remaining workers aren’t on the floor, they must keep their arms covered. We all must protect the vulnerable members of Florida’s state house, it seems, for they cannot help themselves when it comes to those sweet sweet elbows. 

Under the “never work appropriate” section, which is coded in an alarming red background, are 14 images, including nine women with bodies that are apparently too sexy to have jobs, four slob-kabob men, and one disembodied floating tie-dye shirt that is potentially just too sexy. The text for this just-say-no section reads, “Dress or skirt shorter than one inch above the knee. Low cut blouses or dresses. T-Shirts with writing. Jeans with holes. Men shoes with no socks Leggings for slacks. [sic]” To be fair, at least one of those rules appears to be aimed at the boys.

Patterned suits are also always banned, according to the flyer’s red-zone pics. But where does one draw the line? Are pinstripes ok? What about the south’s classic seersucker? And where on the boob exactly is the low-cut line? If above-the-knee skirts are okay, but only up to one inch above the knee, who is going to pay to bus out a couple of nuns with rulers every day to do the actual measuring?

Sigh. Some humor while discussing ridiculous dress codes is inevitable, but it is distinctly unfunny that what Florida is doing is part of an alarming trend. Before Florida, early this year, the Republican-led Missouri state house of representatives voted to amend their dress code to require women to wear a formal second layer to cover their arms.

The change was introduced to the chamber by Republican State Rep. Ann Kelley, who said the amendment to the dress code was only fair. “Men are required to wear a jacket, a shirt, and a tie, correct? … If they walked in without a jacket, they would get gaveled down in a heartbeat. So, we are so interested in being equal,” Kelley said during the debate. 

Kelley’s explanation for “equality” in dress forgets that not all genders’ bodies are the same. After Democratic state Rep. Raychel Proudie argued that blazers are not always wearable when a person is pregnant, Republicans conceded that “jacket” could refer to “blazers, cardigans, and knit blazers.”
Missouri state Rep. Ashley Aune told CNN Newsroom she believes the time spent on managing women’s dress code signifies that state Republicans aren’t focusing on “important issues.” It’s fair to say the same of the legislators in Florida. It’s almost too scary to think what politicians might accomplish with their energy if they were to stop policing women’s bodies.

(via Miami Herald, CNN, @eileenvan55 on Twitter, MO House Rules, featured image: designer491/Getty)

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