CBS News reports that a "young female reporter" was not allowed into the speaker's lobby, which is outside the House Chamber in the Capitol because her shirt was sleeveless. "Apparently, the coverage of women's toes and shoulders is important business for the current House leader," whined Jezebel writer Stassa Edwards.
I'm having a hard time getting worked up over this poor reporter's plight. It was hot, you see, so comfort is king! Or rather queen, because what do men wear to work at the Capitol when it's hot? Button down shirts, ties, and (shudder) suit coats.
This morning, I worked at a co-working space in town, because it worked better for my schedule. It's a drop in type of place, and free, so it's pretty awesome. It also gives me a pretty good view of what other people wear for work. Lots of people were casually dressed--shorts, t-shirts, etc, but as for those who were dressed for meetings, the women had far more weather-appropriate clothing. Flowy knee-length skirts with short sleeve blouses (a few with sleeveless blouses), seemed to be the norm for the women. The men? Suits. Full on suits. Ties, black shoes, dark socks, dark pants. It's currently 92 degrees out in a country where you can't count on a given office to have air conditioning.
Here's the deal: Reporters should always dress conservatively. They shouldn't push the boundaries. Why? Because they are there to report the news, not be the news. If you want sleeveless blouses to become acceptable attire in Congress, Nancy Pelosi is the person to make that wave, not a "young" reporter.
Having to dress appropriately isn't oppression--and if it is, the men are surely more oppressed than the women here. It's not sexist. It's not even mean. It's part of being professional and respecting the institution. That institution isn't nearly as important in your new startup that began last week, but in Congress, it certainly is.
It's unfortunate that the rules were not clearly spelled out, but you should always follow the cues of the leadership, whether it be congressional leadership or corporate leadership. If you want to know how women at Facebook should dress, look at Sheryl Sandberg and not at Jane the newest intern. If you want to know how a congressional reporter should dress, look at the experienced reporters.
Speaker Paul Ryan recently reminded all Congress members to dress appropriately.
Why? Well, following the rules and the traditions "will foster an atmosphere of mutual and institutional respect." So, ladies, cover your shoulders. Men, pull on that suit coat. Stop whining.