Women Reporters Are Being Turned Away From Covering Congress; Here’s Why

House Speaker Paul Ryan’s office is throwing yet another obstacle in the way of the free press, but this one only affects female reporters. Women who dare wear sleeveless tops or dresses during blistering hot D.C. weather are being turned away from House press gatherings — all for the perceived sin of showing their shoulders. Sharia Law anyone?

According to numerous reporters, women have been barred from the Speaker’s lobby for wearing sleeveless dresses and blouses. CBS reports that recently, “a young, female reporter” tried to enter the Speaker’s lobby—a room outside of the House chamber where reporters generally ask legislators questions—but was turned away because the sleeveless dress she was wearing “was considered inappropriate because her shoulders weren’t covered.”

The unnamed reporter, apparently desperate to simply do her job, “ripped out pages from her notebook and stuffed them into her dress’s shoulder openings to create sleeves,” CBS reports. Her improvised outfit was still deemed unacceptable and she was turned away. At least three reporters confirmed that they had received a warning about the apparently arbitrary dress code. One report, Independent Journal Review’s Haley Byrd told CBS that she was kicked out of the Speaker’s lobby in May—the same day House Republicans passed their health care bill—for wearing a sleeveless dress. On Twitter, two reporters confirmed that either they or colleagues had been barred or warned for daring to bare their shoulders.

Source: Jezebel

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Sure, if a man showed up with a wife beater, he’d probably be kicked out of the House too, but sleeveless has long been an acceptable choice among professional women, especially during hot weather.

Ryan’s office didn’t issue a reason for the arbitrary interpretation of the existing dress code, which is simply that reporters wear “appropriate attire.” It’s not a big leap, though, to say that they are trying to de-sexualize women. Not only are they banning sleeveless attire, but they’re also banning open-toed shoes.

Remember, this is the party that tries to claim moral superiority over Muslims because (in part) of the strict dress codes among women in some Islamic countries.


Featured image via Drew Angerer/Getty Images