Republican lawmakers in Missouri enact law forcing women to cover their arms in state House chamber

Democrats in Missouri criticized their Republican counterparts for attempting to enforce a tougher dress code on female state House legislators.


State Representative Raychel Proudie, a Democrat, said on the floor during at times tense debate earlier this week, “There are some very serious things within this package that we should be debating, but instead we are fighting for a woman’s right to choose something and this time it is how she covers herself and the interpretation of someone who has no background in fashion.”

Heartland Signal, a website and a division of Chicago-based, left-leaning radio station WCPT 820AM, released a video of the discussion on Twitter.

Proudie was protesting Republican state Rep. Ann Kelley’s efforts to change the official rules of the House to require women to wear blazers inside the chamber. According to The Washington Post, the GOP-led House eventually enacted significantly modified regulations requiring female legislators to cover their arms but allowing for cardigans and other types of outerwear.

State Representative Ashley Aune, a Democrat, said, “You know what it feels like in this chamber to have a lot of males in this room staring at your top to judge if it’s suitable or not?” She added that the entire argument was “crazy.”

Kelley looked to be becoming angry at this time. She responded by saying that it was certainly “crazy” that her colleagues were having such a contentious discussion over her suggested adjustments.

Kelley remarked, “Lady, you’re right, it’s insane. “Why should we even discuss about anything like this on the House floor in the House chamber? It is utterly ludicrous.”

Aune retorted by pointing out that Kelley’s idea was what sparked the discussion.

Kelley was still working. ” You would think that ladies could manage that if you just told them to dress professionally,” she continued.

New Attire To Comply

Proudie and other MPs made the point that the modifications may be challenging for lawmakers, who might have to rush out and buy new attire to comply.

When the General Assembly meets in Missouri every two years, the Missouri House, like most statehouse chambers, must adopt new rules. Prior regulations, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, permitted “dresses, skirts, or trousers worn with a jacket or sweater and acceptable dress shoes or boots.”

Insider’s request for comment was not immediately answered by Kelley’s office.

Other Reports, Dress Code

Democrats criticized a revision to the Missouri House’s dress code for female lawmakers on Wednesday, which was supported by Republicans.

According to Rep. Ann Kelley, R-Lamar, it is imperative to constantly maintain a formal and professional tone, therefore she advocated specifically mandating female lawmakers to wear coats on the House floor.

Every two years, at the opening of the General Assembly, legislators discuss modifications to the House’s rules.

In the past, it was permitted to wear “dresses, skirts, or slacks worn with a jacket or sweater and proper dress shoes or boots.”