Missouri Republicans Have Found Their Post-Roe Enemy: Cardigans

Missouri Republicans aren't done telling women what to do with their bodies

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click to enlarge The Missouri legislature discussed the dress code today.
The Missouri legislature discussed the dress code today.

Missouri has a lot of problems, but if you were in the statehouse today, you would have thought the biggest one was what female legislators wear.

Peter Merideth (D-St. Louis) shared the news on Twitter, "Debating the house rules on the floor today, and the first amendment offered by a Republican is about making stricter the rules of what women have to wear in here."
Merideth continued:

"Yep, the caucus that lost their minds over the suggestion that they should wear masks during a pandemic to respect the safety of other is now spending its time focusing on the fine details of what women have to wear (and specifically how many layers must cover their arms) to show respect in this chamber," Merideth added. He also clarified that lawmakers "thought a couple women last year didn't dress nicely enough for their standards."

The proposed change came from Representative Ann Kelley (R-Lamar), who argued that women should "always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere" and suggested that all women legislators be required to wear a blazer on the house floor, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports.
Lawmakers can change the House dress code every two years. Previously, the dress code stated that women could wear "dresses or skirts or slacks worn with a blazer or sweater and appropriate dress shoes or boots." The rules require women to wear a second layer over a dress or top, and some lawmakers preferred to wear shawls or other items that weren't jackets. The madness had to be stopped.

The proposed dress code says "proper attire for women shall be business attire, including jackets worn with dresses, skirts, or slacks and dress shoes or boots." But Representative Brenda Shields (R-St. Joseph) suggested they amend the dress code to allow cardigans to count as jackets, which led to a seemingly ludicrous debate, Representative Jamie Johnson (D-Kansas City) detailed on Twitter.

"Just finished floor debate explaining why knit blazers do not include cardigans on an amendment restricting what women can wear in the House. Why would we need to add additional barriers to the idea that anyone could represent the people...."

Ultimately the amendment was allowed to stay in, and women lawmakers were allowed to cover their arms with cardigans. As the Post-Dispatch pointed out, women hold less than a third of the seats in the Missouri House, surely this debate is not helping encourage women to run for office.

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About The Author

Rosalind Early

Rosalind is the editor-in-chief of the Riverfront Times. She formerly worked for Washington University's alumni magazine and St. Louis Magazine. In 2018, she was selected as a Rising Leader of Color by the Theatre Communications Group. In 2014, she was selected as an Emerging Leader by FOCUS St. Louis. Her work...
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